MANILA - There’s a clear reason why Stray Kids are called the “super rookie” group of K-pop. And now, Filipino fans have personally witnessed why they are called as such.
In a packed Araneta Coliseum last Saturday, Bang Chan, Woojin, Changbin, Han, Lee Know, Seungmin, Hyunjin, Felix, and I.N. thrilled fans with a succession of explosive performances featuring some of their ultra-hyped hits.
Stray Kids opened the Manila leg of Unveil Tour “I am…” with their pre-debut song “Hellevator.” It was a fitting choice since the song and the entire performance around it were produced as part of the initial challenge in the survival show that featured the group’s dramatic journey to stardom.
Filipino Stays (name of the fandom) waved their lightsticks and screamed the fanchants as the nine-member group performed tracks which earned them recognitions including several Rookie of the Year and Best New Male Artist awards.
More hard-hitting performances followed, including “Grr”, “NOT!” and “Awaken.”
But it wasn’t just a rapid succession of their chart-topping songs. Taking a cue from the way they released four mini albums within a year, their more than two-hour concert was laid out with a deliberately thoughtful storyline: the quest for self-identity.
"District 9," from the album "I am NOT," best showcased the group’s dark and rebel image. It was thrilling to witness Han and Changbin flawlessly rapping it out while hustling to deliver the breathtaking choreography.
After a quick banter with fans, the boys performed “Mirror” followed by a subdued “WHO?” both from the album “I am WHO.” The latter song talks about the piled-up questions on one’s mind and the craving for answers. Members danced around a huge frame in impressively melodramatic mirrored moves to the amazement of Pinoy Stays.
Stray Kids picked up the pace once again with another showstopper featuring "My Pace" with its gritty, high-intensity dance moves — a perfect backdrop to the song's tough message of rebelling against the demands of conformity and instead following your own pace.
Stray Kids continued to hype the crowd with more numbers featuring “YOU”, “My side”, “I am you” — all from their album “I am YOU.” These were followed by tracks from the group’s latest album “Clé 1: MIROH” with “Entrance” and “Victory song.” The aggressive performances would tire out any artist but Stray Kids delivered them consistently with such high energy from start to finish.
The party mood continued as the boys performed “Miroh," which is now making the rounds on the internet as a new dance challenge.
Before capping the evening, each members delivered a long, heartfelt message to Filipino fans for their unwavering support. Led by Bang Chan, the group also offered some consoling words to those who were affected by the recent series of tremors that struck the country.
Meanwhile, Stray Kids members were treated to a surprise video produced by Pinoy Stays. It featured an animated story of how the boys started from the survival show, all the way to their debut, and now to earning recognitions and fans in Korea and other parts of the world.
A full blown party scene erupted as the boys performed "Awkward Silence," "Get Cool," and “Yayaya", with members running around the stage, dancing in freestyle, and doing “aegyo" for the fans.
To end the night, Stray Kids performed “Grow Up,” a sentimental track about starting a journey in life, making mistakes, and growing from them.
Indeed, Stray Kids is already in a league of its own within the short span of time since their debut — co-writing and co-producing their own songs, soaring through the music charts and racking up awards, and firing up the concert stage in Korea and other parts of the world.
But what’s exciting is the obvious display of so much potential, knowing that the boys are still growing as artists.