EXplOration in Seoul—The 5th EXperience

It felt like it has been a long time coming since EXO announced their fifth concert, EXplOration in Seoul. It was both a wave of relief—with a long wait of rumored schedules—and a shot of excitement because finally! It’s the tour we’ve been waiting for. 

Unlike ElyXiOn which was held at Gocheok Dome, we went back to KSPO Dome (or Olympic Gymnastics Arena, as it was known before). It was a smaller concert venue which also gives a closer stage set-up, but with a group as popular as EXO, a single concert night would not be enough. EXO-Ls, despite EXO’s 7-year career, is still a massive fandom. And so it was not a surprise that EXplOration in Seoul became a six-day event, a sweet move to accommodate everyone.

And just like every other EXO concert in the past, ticketing has always been extremely challenging. Guess I was just lucky enough to get one and so here goes what happened at EXO’s Seoul stop, a window to what we can see in their upcoming tours outside Korea.

Failed Plans and Back Up

Just like the past few concerts, I initially planned on booking through the SM Global Package. Unfortunately, every single package were all sold out. It was unbelievable, especially when you think about how this concert only has six members, after Xiumin and D.O. already entered their military enlistment prior. Quick thinking lead me to try for fanclub ticketing using my EXO-L Ace membership because we have priority booking before general sales.

I didn’t really have a lot of confidence because I planned to try ticketing in the Philippines with our notoriously slow internet. Fortunately, a supportive friend who lives in Korea offered to do ticketing for me. Using my EXO-L Ace Yes24 account, she got me a ticket! She called me in a panic, asked for my card details, and finalize the sale. I was ecstatic! It was the first time I have ever gotten a ticket the normal way! It cost exactly PHP 5,527.30 and I could only pick it up on the concert day, July 20th which was coincidentally also my birthday. 

D-Day!

Prior to the concert, fan group EXO_Lab announced that there are meaningful corresponding dress codes per day. On the 20th, the color was purple to commemorate EXO’s first full-length album, XOXO, which has red and blue versions. Since the concert day was my birthday, I hang out with friends first before picking up my ticket. The venue surprisingly had no lines which was good and I went inside in a breeze. I found my seat, the lights dimmed, and the lightsticks lit. The crowd roared and cheered. The concert had begun. 

After an eventful video intro, the boys entered and started strong with their title song “Tempo.” Baekhyun’s sexy solo of his hit song “UN Village” came after. After a few more group performances, they finally had the time to talk to us. They said that they were excited to finally meet the fans after a long hiatus period since their last comeback. They joked around and talked to the fans more until they went on to the rest of the first of their setlist, including a jaw-dropping Suho version of “Been Through” (you’ve probably seen the previews and you know what I mean by jaw-dropping), and a very touching ballad “Lights Out” by Chen, both from their last Winter album, “Universe.” Sehun and Chanyeol made everyone stand up and jump in their seats with their songs “What A Life” and “Closer To You,” at that time unreleased. Kai wow-ed the crowd with his solo performance of “Confession.” 

As we reached the end of the concert, the fans held several events that touched the members. This included singing “Peter Pan” from the XOXO album. The boys then came out singing “Unfair” for encore. After saying their last goodbyes, they sung “Smile On My Face” which Suho said they unanimously decided as their last song because they want to tell EXO-Ls that they will always be here. The literal translation of the song’s Korean title is “I’ll Be Here”. 

Post-Con Thoughts

Although they missed three other members in this concert, they did not once feel like their performances lacked anything. The members made it sure that we will still give it their all, like they have always done for for the past few years. Lay, Xiumin, and D.O. may be temporarily away, but the remaining six made sure that despite it, EXO is still one. There is really no other praise to say about their live performances as their vocals has always been just completely flawless. They won’t be vocal kings for nothing, right? I gotta admit, I did miss the “club time” of the past two tours, but it is kind of a nice break to just jump in your seats for a shorter time, instead of the usual 40 minutes (or it probably is just the tita side of me talking). The last concert director, Shim Jaewon, has spoiled us good with that, and it was definitely something that you didn’t think you would miss. Regardless, this concert was never at all subpar to the past concerts.

If you’re gonna ask me what my favorite part was, it would be a toss between Chen’s “Lights Out” and “Bad Dream.” Chen’s performance was really heart-wrenchingly emotional, and “Bad Dream” choreography can be described as the culmination of a fan’s fantasies. 

Overall, this concert is one of the best ones EXO has done so far. It’s a bit shorter, which can be quite sad, but it never made the quality go down. In fact, it even made me more excited for fans in Manila to finally get the EXplOration experience. And now we’re getting two days, that just means we’re spending a lot more time with the boys, too! I just know that the members will be happy to know that we made it two concert days, and every PH EXO-L will have more chances to see what the boys have prepared for us. 

So, see you all on the 23rd and 24th?

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