MANILA -- Three years ago, the sensational Australian pop rock band 5 Seconds of Summer or simply 5SOS described their first Manila concert at the Mall of Asia Arena as one of their best ever.
A year later, they once again played at the same venue before a full house of screaming fans as part of the In The Mix music festival.
This year, late last week to be more specific, Luke Hemmings, Calum Hood, Ashton Irwin and Michael Clifford were back in town not for another high-profile, big-venue concert but for an exclusive, intimate mini-show for 300 lucky fans.
Dubbed as "Just Woke Up in Manila," the band’s latest Manila sojourn was announced in late June. Unlike their previous concerts, there were no tickets for sale this time. Instead, the only way 5SOS fans were able to watch the July 11 show was by streaming their latest single, “Easier,” on Spotify and then register from July 3 to July 7; 300 winners were then selected to comprise the band’s exclusive guest list.
Of course, as in their two previous shows, more than 300 people wanted to get a glimpse of the group. As a matter of fact, there were over 30,000 fans who participated in the streaming promo.
Some of these 5SOS fans, who had been known as “Team Labas,” managed to get inside the lobby of the New Frontier Theater just to at least hear the sound of their idols’ performance. Other fans camped out just outside the venue.
With over 7.2 billion worldwide streams and over 1.6 billion views on YouTube, 5SOS is one of the most recognizable pop acts. For them to treat their Filipino fans to what is essentially an invitational free concert is quite a generous gesture even though the band performed an acoustic set composed of only five songs.
But for those lucky 300 composed mostly of teenage girls, seeing 5SOS this up close and personal is more than enough. Kicking off their set with “Want You Back,” the lead single from their 2018 studio album, "Youngblood," Hemmings’ lead vocals was barely audible as fans sang along to every line of the song.
This was followed by “Who Do You Love,” their collaboration with popular American DJ duo The Chainsmokers who have also been frequenting Manila as of late. Fans went crazy again as Hemmings, Hood and Clifford took turns handling lead vocal chores.
Then came a question and answer portion as the band gamely answered some queries posed by their fans. For those who dream big and aspire for bigger things in life, Clifford gave this little piece of advice, “I would obviously encourage everybody to continue chasing what you dream about.”
Asked what to them is the best song they ever recorded thus far, Hemmings pointed to “Youngblood” as one of their most important work. “We needed a song like that,” he added.
The final question turned out to be the cue for fan to walk onstage to greet and present Hemmings with a birthday cake. Then it was Irwin’s turn to address the audience as he expressed his frustration about the Philippines being an underrated part of the world.
“I think by being here, you guys are going to keep motivating people to come here and play shows and more shows… I think you’re beautiful, smart, young people… As a band, I really want to say thank you from us, you’re incredible,” he quipped.
Clifford then once again took over lead vocals on “Jet Black Heart” from 2015’s "Sounds Good Feels Good." This was followed by “Easier,” the group’s latest single and the song that brought everyone together that night.
Now available on digital platforms, the mid-tempo number originally showcased Hemmings’ falsetto range that would’ve further drove the girls screaming. Fans still loved the acoustic rendition even if it could’ve used a little more oomph.
Ending their mini-concert is, of course, “Youngblood,” their biggest global hit to date. The audience wanted more but that was pretty much it for the concert. The interaction of 5SOS with fans was not limited to this event, though.
Arriving here two days ahead of their mini-concert, there were several 5SOS sightings as the band members took their time to interact with fans, guested on three radio stations radio to promote “Easier” and even took a jeepney ride.
Summing up their visit, Irwin posted on Instagram, “I love the Philippines. I love seeing all the happy faces here and witnessing the way they love music… A whole lotta heart here in Manila. What incredible fans of music.”
It’s safe to say that they’ll be back here soon.