Photos by Larissa Lingad
“Stay” is a big word. It suggests the feeling of not wanting to leave, of remaining in place, or of wanting time to stop.
On April 27, it was as if time stopped for Filipino STAYs as the nine-member boy group performed in the Philippines for the first time as part of their UNVEIL “I am…” tour.
Bang Chan, Han, Changbin, Hyunjin, Woojin, Felix, Lee Know, Seungmin and I.N. opened the show with a series of explosive performances – “Hellevator” and “Grrr 총량의 법칙” from their pre-debut “Mixtape” album, followed by “NOT!”, “Awaken”, and “District 9” from their debut album “I am Not”.
While taking a breather, each of the members introduced themselves in Filipino, much to the delight of Filipino STAYs. They also expressed how much they are amazed at how packed the venue was and that they were grateful for the love even during their arrival at the airport.
With the lights out, Stray Kids slowed things down with more sentimental tracks, such as “Mirror”, “WHO?”, “Insomnia”, and “Voices”. “WHO?”, an introductory track to their sophomore album, was particularly beautiful as the nine members mirror each other’s movements in front of large frame.
Picking up the pace again (no pun intended), the boys teased the fans with different versions of “My Pace” including a sexy version from visual member, Hyunjin. The boys then serenaded their fans with “My Side” as a promise that they will always stay by each other’s side.
Closing the “I Am…” series, they performed “I am You”, which was bears the same name as the album.
During their ments, the members took time to explain some of the tracks they have performed. Bang Chan, Han, and Changbin – also known as 3RACHA – have been actively composing, arranging, and writing prior to Stray Kids actual debut.
About the emotional “Voices”, leader Bang Chan comforted STAYs that they know how it feels to hear so many voices:
“Wherever we are, we receive letters, we receive comments, we receive a lot of stuff from you, guys. Sometimes, you know, you write your feelings. A lot of times when you guys have a hard time. We all go through that, right? Whenever you’re having depression, when you feel lonely, when you have anxiety, social anxiety. When you guys are having a hard time, all these bad thoughts, all these bad voices in your head, we wanted to express that we are the same. It’s not just you guys but we go through that as well,” he said.
More than producing music, the boys also were very hands-on in the production of the whole concert, including the narrative brought about by the “I am…” series on self-identity.
With a fresh change of clothes, the boys returned to stage to perform for the first time outside Korea songs from their latest album, Clé 1 : Miroh. Filipino STAYs were privileged to hear live “Victory Song” and “Miroh”, which the latter earned them their first music show win last April 4.
When the boys thought that the night was over, Filipino STAYs surprised them with an 8-bit video that chronicled their journey from the survival show to winning multiple rookie awards. The video also compiled various events and occasions wherein fans celebrated the members’ birthdays. At the end of the video, the whole venue lit up with banners that read, “Everlasting Stay – Promise to stand by your side.”
Touched by the fans’ gifts, the boys couldn’t help but express their gratitude plus short Filipino phrases for dedicated to Filipino STAYs.
Lee Know: “While we were performing tonight, you guys were so beautiful. Thank you, to you STAYs who made this evening possible. Don’t go anywhere and always stay by our side, STAYs. Promise?”
Han couldn’t hide his surprise at the video Filipino STAYs prepared. “I am really happy that we were able to perform in front of so many Stays. You guys are truly, truly the best. Masaya kami ngayong gabi.”
Maknae I.N. expressed that he truly enjoyed performing with his awesome hyungs. “I was able to have performing with no regrets. The moment I became part of Stray Kids, I never had any regrets because of the hyungs and STAYs. I am truly truly blessed. STAYs, da best kayo!”
Felix: “It’s so great to be standing on this stage with all of my members. Having stand on stage and seeing one person smile really lifts up all the struggle and all the stress that’s put on to us. Every time we see one STAY smile, we smile. Hindi namin makakalimutan ang gabing ito.”
Hyunjin: “I really believe you are my happiness. No matter what hardships or concerns we have, the fact we were able to perform in front of you, I think that’s the happiest thing in my life. STAYs, ang ganda nyo.”
Seungmin, who for a time being was injured before promoting “Miroh”, couldn’t contain his amazement at the amount of STAYs that came that night. “It’s our first time to visit the Philippines as Stray Kids but I was really surprised about the big love from our STAY. Thank you for the big cheer.”
Changbin: “Even us, Stray Kids, there are times when we get tired. So the fact that we were able to perform in front of you, guys, so whenever those times come, no matter how many times, we were able to overcome and beat this. So I really wanna come back to see (you). I love you. Ingat!”
Woojin revealed that he used stayed in the Philippines when he was young to study English.
“I stayed in Iloilo for two months and studied English there. I really liked that I was able to study English and do duckpin (bowling) and (visited) Buto’t Balat restaurant. I had a really good time. It’s really Philippines that taught me English. And Boracay’s really the place I really like. I went to Boracay twice. It was really a beautiful place. So I think Philippines gave me the gift of happiness. STAY, mahalaga kayo,” he said.
Being the true leader that he is, Bang Chan took time to acknowledge the staff to make the show possible. He also shared how much he wants to make time stop to be with STAYs.
“Today, I want to talk about time. Time is something never-ending, and you guys, know that, too. But we know that today, it is certainly going to end. But whenever Stray Kids are with STAY, we want that time to stop even just for a little bit – just a little bit so that time that we spend together can be forever. I want our time to be everlasting – just like our Everlasting STAYs.”
Bang Chan, who was born and raised in Australia, shared a popular saying which made an impact on him while growing up. “There’s a saying that I really liked while I was growing up… It goes, ‘Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.’ Today, STAY, you guys are the biggest present for Stray Kids.”
Closing the show, the boys played and teased the fans while doing encore performances of “Awkward Silence”, “Get Cool”, “YAYAYA”, and “Grow Up”.
Young, talented, creative, and brilliant – it is easy to see why Stray Kids has gained a huge following only a little bit over a year after their debut. Contrary to many young people their age, the members are able to communicate clearly through their songs their struggles of transitioning to adulthood and of reaching their dreams. Moreover, they share their thoughts of finding their identity – much like navigating artists in a saturated sea of music acts, especially in South Korea.
However, it was the sincerity of this group that would definitely bring them a long way.
Before formally closing the show, Bang Chan shared that they have recently heard of the earthquake that rocked Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon last April 22. Holding back his tears, the young leader offered his heartfelt condolence to those who were affected by the calamity.
“We were very saddened because it’s something, I guess, we don’t expect these kinds of thing. But for us, the first thing that came to our minds was our Philippine STAY. We want to send out our sincere condolences to all those who have been affected by these earthquakes, who have been hurting or still grieving. We want everyone to recover quickly.
No matter how, we will try our best to help out so we want you guys to have hope and also find hope through us. We are always with you guys, okay? Just like STAY stays with us, us Stray Kids will stay with you, guys. So don’t look at the past, be well today and look forward because time is ever going and won’t stop, okay? We will be with you, guys, forever. I love you, guys. Mami-miss ko kayo. We promise to come back and I hope you guys will be waiting.”
Seeing the crowd that night, their Filipino fans are here to STAY.
Stray Kids UNVEIL “I am…” Tour in Manila was presented by PULP Live World and JYP Entertainment.