MANILA — Popular South Korean acts shared the stage with Filipino drag artists and a P-pop boy band for a Halloween-themed concert and party, a first of its kind event that pushed through even as a strong storm battered the country.
Concertgoers dressed up as everything from a witch and a devil to iconic game mascots Mario and Pikachu at the SM Mall of Asia Arena last October 29 for Hallyuween 2022, billed by producer PULP Live World as the Philippines' first "K-pop Halloween party."
They braved heavy rains, fierce winds, and flooded roads triggered by tropical storm Paeng to reach the Pasay arena and see their favorite stars' performances.
In true party fashion, couches and tables lined both sides of the mosh pit that faced the stage, akin to a nightclub.
CL graced the event as the headliner, dressed as Cruella de Vil in a white fur coat as she breezed through a nine-song repertoire composed of old hits like "The Baddest Female" and "Hello Bitches," and songs off her 2021 album "Alpha."
"I haven't been back here for a while, so I'm very happy to reconnect with my fans, and to be on stage and show them my new music," CL, best known as the leader of iconic K-pop girl group 2NE1, said at a press conference before the four-hour show.
Hip-hop trio Epik High thrilled the crowd with a set that Tablo said was aimed at making attendees "forget about all the bad things going on in the world, in your life, just for tonight."
"We can't solve every problem, but for the time that we share together, we can make you forget about things and enjoy yourself," he said at the press conference.
During the hit song "Born Hater," Tablo, Mithra Jin, and DJ Tukutz amusingly paused their performance several times for various reasons, such as to take a photo with the audience and give away a signed shirt.
Lady Morgana and Minty Fresh from "Drag Race Philippines" joined fellow drag queen Lady Gagita as the night's opening act, offering a number themed "the evolution of drag."
BGYO took the stage as the sole P-pop group in the lineup and performed their new single "Magnet" for the first time.
Before the show, leader Gelo said it was a "dream come true" and "milestone" for the quintet to perform alongside K-pop artists that they look up to.
Korean co-ed group KARD brought their signature sounds of tropical house and dancehall, playing one title track after another, while K-pop boy band Pentagon charmed the audience with songs like "Feelin' Like" and "Shine."
Singer Gaho and band Kave lifted spirits in the arena with "Start Over" and "Running" from the hit K-dramas "Itaewon Class" and "Start-Up," respectively, before showcasing their other songs. They also played a rock version of Blackpink's "How You Like That."
After the performances, attendees partied late into the night with tunes courtesy of South Korea's DJ Soda, a frequent headliner at major Asian music festivals.
Hallyuween 2022 took place as Paeng dumped rains that inundated parts of the country, but this did not hinder fans from attending and enjoying the event.
"I've been waiting for this concert na talaga since it was announced. Parang nakakapanghinayang talaga if hindi pa ako tutuloy. I knew the risks naman," said 24-year-old Angel Namuco from Rizal province, who went to see Pentagon.
(I've been waiting for this concert since it was announced. It would be a waste if I didn't go. I knew the risks.)
"I know I had to be there even if there's a possibility na ma-stranded (that I become stranded) after the concert because all the artists that I love were there," said 27-year-old Paolo de Castro.
Hours before the show, PULP Live World COO Happee Sy-Go announced on Twitter that ticket holders who were unable to come would be able to stream the event online.
Getting home also proved to be a challenge for some attendees, but those stranded were allowed to stay inside the arena, with organizers providing them food and water.
Some concertgoers, like 26-year-old Mary Grace Esmaya, booked rooms at hotels near the venue.
"Kasi I knew the concert would end late and this decision was a good one kasi hassle umuwi that night dahil sa bagyo," said Esmaya, who came from Cavite.
(I booked a hotel room because I knew the concert would end late, and this decision was a good one because it was a hassle to go home that night due to the storm.)
"I was so happy after the concert since I never expected that I would experience watching [CL and Epik High] live," she added.
— With a report from April Benjamin, ABS-CBN News