Thursday, July 26, 2018

Our Up10tion Concert Experience

We fell in love with the Korean boy band Up10tion nearly two years ago. They are a less well known band mostly because they come from a smaller entertainment company. But we fell hard for them and have been promoting them ever since. 

We all thought they would never be "big" enough to come on a tour in the US. We figured we'd never see them live. But then suddenly one day, their tour was announced. It was also announced they would do a fan sign and hi touch and pictures and all sorts of extra fun things. It didn't matter what else was going on in our lives, or whether we were out of kpop fun money or not... we knew we'd be going.

Buying tickets was actually a fun experience this time too! The theater we chose to go to was very small, but all seated (no mosh pit) and so when we bought tickets, the seats all popped up and we just choose where we wanted to be and bam, we had them! Just like you do when you reserve seats at the movies! why can't all concerts be this easy! The joy of loving a small less popular group! 

Anyway. We had the VVIP package which meant we had up close seats, we got a the CD which was to be signed by them all at the event, the group photo and the hi touch! (high fiving them all!) We also got, along with all the fans, the chance to buy photo ops (think comic con) of fun little tiny polaroid pictures with as many of them individually as we could afford!  We could not WAIT!

Finally the day came. Toto and I flew to San Jose that evening, hoping to meet Megs there at the airport, but she did not luck out to get on the stand by flight we wanted, and so she had to wait for the next plane and come a few hours later. Toto and I got a Lyft to the hotel and spent the evening walking around downtown San Jose and getting an ice cream. Megs arrived at 12:30 am and we tried to sleep!

Next day, concert day! We hung out at the hotel filming things for our channel and then we went out to walk around and hang out with the other fans who were slowly accumulating at the gates of the theater. We sat there while Megs finished writing her cards to the boys (we were told we couldn't give them presents, but could give them cards, so why not??) And we hoped that we might see the boys when they arrived at the venue. 

We left our spot for a moment to get Subway down the street and as we were coming back, we ended up following a small little cute Asian boy as we crossed the street. Toto was all.. "that's Jinhoo, I know it!" I was like, no way. That's not him! Are you sure?  She was like, totally sure. But man.. he looked so NORMAL! 

But sure enough, he walked right into the back stage area and we followed him as we came back to our spot. Jinhoo, leader and oldest dude in Up10tion. We just followed him across the street, like it was totally normal.

So we sat there and then just a few minutes later Toto says.... ah!!! There's Gyujin... he's coming across the street now too! So we looked and sure enough, here comes another cute Asian boy... calmly walking across the street, down the sidewalk, right in front of us and into the back stage door. He grinned at us and waved. Probably because Toto had his name and face on her headband! Yes, he is her favorite of all the ten and we were lucky enough to see him arrive in all his normalness. 

Well, after that excitement, we had to go back to the hotel (which was just next door to the theater. We couldn't get closer seriously.) and get ready. After which, we came back and joined the fairly large line that had now formed. It's a good thing we got there when we did because they didn't have enough CDs and ran out just after we got ours. Sheesh. That was close. 

We waited a long time. Several hours. But finally, the boys were ready. They had all arrived by then and were transforming from the normal boys we saw walking across the street, to the amazing kpop idols they are. 

We watched them make their appearance and sit, all lined up in order of age, at the table and then we got to file past them with our CDs which they signed, while saying our name, shaking our hands and telling us thanks. I had planned to say Korean something or other to them, but I couldn't even make English come out, let alone Korean. They were breathtaking. Seriously. Beautiful people. Truly beautiful. And seeing them up close and in real life like that after watching them on a screen... it's so crazy sureal. I have no words. 

Anyway, after all the anxiety of this exact moment, it was over SO FAST! I did say "nice to meet you" in Korean to Wei, and I think I said, "My name is Suey" in Korean to Hwanhee... so I did manage that much. All the rest, I just said.. thanks for coming, so happy you are here, can't wait for the concert and I have no idea what else. One of them asked... how are you and i said nervous. I'm not sure he understood me, but I do know that they think it's crazy to be nervous though... lol. Like why? Xiao was the last one and since Toto was being held up by Gyujin, (who was making eyes at her because she had his face on her head, and he was all "You... earlier!" while pointing to the street,)  I was able to say a little more to Xiao and i told him good luck at the concert and that I was so excited... he just nodded, probably not understanding a word... but then the staff ushered  me away and told me to get out of there. GAH. 

Then we got in line and this time we filed by them all, giving them all a hearty high five and/or hand clasp depending on what they did. And then we stood behind them while they sat down and we got a group picture. After which we were ushered into the theater to wait for the concert.

Here are the group pictures! Toto (bottom pic) was in a different group so she could be behind Gyujin! The guys, from left to right in order from youngest to oldest are:

Xiao, Hwanhee, Gyujin, Sunyoul, Wooshin, Bitto, Wei, Kogyeol, Kuhn and Jinhoo.

Man, we were so hype after that. Toto said that Gyujin stopped her and held her hand instead of simply doing the fast high five... and then he said. "I love you!" So she was swooning all over the place! 

The theater was so small and we were so close it was hard to believe. Think smaller than a high school auditorium. We were on the second row in the middle. We were so excited and filmed some stuff and even got the whole audience to say hi to our phone and scream for Up10tion. It was awesome. Except for the fact that we lost connection half way into it!

Anyway, we didn't wait long before the concert started and then we had the best two hours ever! Seeing them dance so up close was AMAZING! And sing and smile and smirk and flirt and speaking English as best they could. Amazing. They had no interpreters... they just had practiced familiar sayings and had a little teleprompting but that's it. They did a Q and A at one point and then later they did charades where they acted out a key California/San Jose phrase and we had to guess. It was hilarious! They interacted with us as if we were all just gathered in a living room as friends hanging out and playing. Then they'd get up and sing and dance for us. Amazing. 

Above: clips from the concert
Below: the full clip of Hwanhee trying to get us to guess "Yosemite National Park" in the game of charades and all the other boys joined in to "help."

It was over too soon, that's for sure. But we loved seeing all our favorite songs and all the eye contact and seeing their goofs along with their crazy awesomeness.. so much fun.

Sigh. Then afterwards, we all lined up outside to wait for our turn to get an individual picture with them. The polaroid pics! Pick a Pose they called it! We had prebought our tickets for this, so we ended up not having to wait in the line. We had 10 pictures to share between us. I took one, Megs took four and Toto took five. We had to choose our boys and our pose. Of course, Toto did ALL THREE with cute Gyujin. She also took one with Bitto and Xiao. Megs choose Sunyoul, Kuhn, Xiao and Wei. And I took my one with Wei. (If we'd had more, I would have also done Hwanhee and Kogyeol. But dang. They are all the best!)

After it was over, we didn't want to leave. We hoovered for awhile watching them take pictures with everyone and seeing how they interacted. Some of them are so shy and awkward! Some of them so confident and not caring about the language barrier or anything. Wei is very outgoing and funny. Gyujin continued to be cute with Toto and held her hand the whole time they did the poses, and he also went "off script" and did his funny winky face with Toto when she asked him if it was okay. Bitto patted Toto on the head as she walked away. I'm sure he thought she was the cutest little thing! Megs says she can't forget the feeling of Xiao's cheek next to hers. And she was so blown away by the beautifulness of Kuhn and his manly manliness that made her actual feel small next to him! We stood there and relived it all and did not want to leave them!

Toto and Gyujin

Megs and Xiao

Suey and Wei

But we did. Still we hoovered outside the gate until everyone else had dispersed and the boys had gone in to change. But we knew they had to come out to walk back to their hotel... and so we stayed. Along with a few other die hards.. and so when they did appear, we watched them walk out, transformed back to their normal boy-ness, in their sweats and jeans, with all their stuff and entourage, and they walked past us and said bye and thanks one last time. They walked to their hotel which was right across the street from ours. And then, they were gone.

We got something to eat (it was nearly 1 am by now) and filmed ourselves gushing about it, then went back to the hotel and talked more while looking at all the footage and pics we took. Guys, it's really hard to come down after a concert. It took us awhile!

Finally we slept and then went home the next day. And now it's as if it was all a dream. Such a good thing we have pictures to prove that it happened! Best concert to date! Not sure there will be one to top it. 

Here's the vlog which details everything I've just written. Including Gyujin walking by at 3:50 in!

And a few random pictures:

Sunday, July 15, 2018

K drama Review: Moonlight Drawn by Clouds

Drama: Moonlight Drawn by Clouds

Genre: Historical romance
Starring: Park Bo Gum, Kim Yoo Jung, Jinyoung
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

This is a little older drama (aired in 2016) that has been on my radar to watch forever it seems! Finally! 

It's a historical one set in the Joseon Dynasty about the prince and his eunuch, and how they fall in love. Yes, his eunuch is actually a girl who has been disguising herself as a dude all her life to keep in hiding from the people who are searching for her dad (and his family). Her dad is a rebel who has tried to revolt against the dynasty.  

So somehow she ends up coming to the palace as a new eunuch. (How she got through that process is quite funny!) And ends up catching the eye of the beautiful, arrogant prince. He is a little baffled when he finds himself drawn to this little eunuch, but then he conveniently finds out she is a she and then he really runs with it! He truly doesn't care what everyone thinks.

Well, they have to be discreet still of course, but he's so cute and romantic with her!

Park Bo Gum: His smile is a killer

But it can't last of course because when he finds out who she truly is,  things come crashing down!

Of course there's a second male lead (not a love triangle but he does love her too) who happens to be the prince's childhood friend. And also belongs to the family that hopes to usurp the throne. Conflict!
Second male lead played by Jinyoung from the band B1A4.
He is adorable. His band is adorable. 

Anyway, this guy is awesome too and ends up playing quite the roll in everything. Also, there's another friend that we the audience fall in love with. So many awesome side characters as always!

The other friend who pretty much stole the show.

It's a great one for a fun, but not confusing, historical drama. Park Bo Gum is adorable. As is all the rest of them. The music is dramatic and epic, the love songs beautiful. Everything! I loved it.

Here's the trailer:

And a song with some awesome clips:

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Book Review: Grace and the Fever by Zan Romanoff

Book: Grace and the Fever by Zan Romanoff 
Genre: YA contemporary
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆  

Books about fandom have been intriguing me lately so when this one came to my attention, I immediately found it at the library and dove in.

It's about a girl who has loved a boy band for years, and even when it went out of style with her friends as they grew up, she continued to secretly love them. Even to the point of having a Tumblr blog that was extremely popular and followed by thousands.

But it was a secret from everyone in her real life.

So one day when the band comes to her city (LA? Yes, I think they are in LA... all bands come to LA) she is pondering "stalking" them at their hotel, though she really thinks it's probably not a good idea. Instead, that evening, she goes for a walk and runs into a dude, all alone, sitting there smoking by a car... just a few blocks from her house.

When he turns around and looks at her, she about dies when she realizes he is one of the dudes from the band. So they talk... but the paparazzi find them after only after a few minutes and it ends in chaos and confusion.

But, it's enough to get her noticed by this band and before you know it, she has this guy's number and he texting her and inviting her to things.

So I thought it was going to be about a relationship between her a band dude that she has loved her whole life.

But I felt like this was sort of a bait and switch story, because it actually seemed like it was more about her obsession with a couple of the OTHER guys in the band, the guys who she wrote about on her blog for years, speculating about how she thinks that they are together in a romantic relationship. She had written very detailed things about why she thought this. And so when she got up close and personal with the band, she was more invested in discovering their secret (because of course they weren't out and it was all speculation) then she was about getting close to the other guy.

Anyway. After awhile things completely fall apart as these things tend to do, and then it's about her trying to deal.

So did I like it? I have to say... ish. There was some interesting observations about fandom that I loved seeing thought up and said in words. (Mostly this feeling is hard to describe, you know?)  Like describing the feeling of being with people who love the same thing you do. It's pretty amazing. And it creates an energy that I feed on.

But in the end, I was a little disappointed by it. The relationship fell flat and the whole obsession over the other boys was just sad. Though,  I did relate because in my fandom, people do this very same thing. It's crazy. Some of the stuff that was said about this band could have totally been about BTS, but the author actually had One Direction in mind when she wrote it.

I'm glad I found and read it. But it's still not the perfect/best book to describe that overwhelming feeling of being in a crazy fandom.


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