Concert weekends are always hectic and busy and a little insane. You find yourself going hungry, eating meals at weird hours and lacking sleep.
After an insanely late night on Day 1, I found myself waking up early. Prior to the trip, I had planned to take a dip in the heated pool that my hotel has. I had been determined to swim in it because of the #$%^ expensive cost of staying in such a hotel (utilizing its facilities make me feel better). So even though I was tired and lacking sleep, I went for a swim anyway.
I’m glad I went for the swim. The heated pool was delightful and I felt refreshed after the short swim and hot shower. By then, it was time to report down at the lobby for the day’s programme.
First up was lunch at SM’s Celebrity SUM Café. It was beef bulgogi rice or something like that which was decent enough. At any rate, I hadn’t had breakfast because I went for a swim so I was starving and any kind of food would have tasted pretty good to me then.
After lunch, we were put in a line to wait our turn for the “event” planned for us. If I may be completely honest, I think was totally a waste of my time in Seoul and I could have been doing something else, like catching up on sleep in my very expensive hotel room.
What’s the event? Getting a photo taken with Taeyeon’s standee.
I love Taeyeon but there are times when pictures of her aren’t great and this standee of hers wasn’t one of the better photos. I can’t understand why SM staff would choose this photo for the event. In fact, I can’t understand why such an event even exists. I’m not sure what the SM Travel staff were thinking when they came up with this. All I know is I felt pretty meh as I stood there smiling for the camera.
After that, we were deposited at COEX so that we could spend more money in the SUM store (I bought a SNSD bottle warmer lol) before the bus came to pick us up. We arrived at the venue more than two hours before the start of the concert. Later on, another guide told us they made it even earlier than before because there was an instance where the bus was late for another concert.
I have many things to say about the travel department of SM but I shall move on to the concert experience now.
Saturday, December 23
One of the best things about a soshi con is meeting friends. I met all the familiar faces and said hi and we stood around, just hanging out in the cold, cold Seoul winter (lmao). Even then, it was a good feeling and I was happy to see my friends who I only get to see at such events.
The doors finally opened and it was cold so we headed in to all our different seats. On this day, I was seated on 1/F, section A, which is stage left. The seats were decent enough and afforded a decent view of the stage.
Before the concert started, loud cheers came from 2/F. I turned and caught sight of short blond hair. Hyoyeon had arrived. Apparently, all of Red Velvet had come too, but I didn’t spot them.
Today’s mood was different from Day 1’s. I think I was able to shrug off much of the heaviness from before. I watched the opening VCR with an excited heart and cheered when Taeyeon appeared for the first song.
After a few songs, I felt that Taeyeon’s condition was better than before. Previously, I had mentioned how I felt that a lack of practice during the most critical time (due to reasons you and I know) affected the overall performance. On this day, it felt like some problems had been cleared up and the stages felt more polished than before.
While we know that losing a close friend would have a great impact on the performer’s state, the reason why I harp on the lack of practice as a reason is the difference between her PERSONA songs and her newer songs. Songs like Eraser and Night were done fluidly, and with charisma that flowed naturally, compared to songs like Shhh.
Other instances where a lack of familiarity showed was when she went the wrong way to exit after a song and when she missed the entrance of the first line for “My Grown Up Christmas List”. None of these kinds of mistakes happened during PERSONA, so we can compare and conclude this.
The highest point of this concert would be when Seohyun appeared. Her presence was like the sun to our universe, a source of strength and light that we all needed. It’s amazing, really, because not so long ago, Seohyun was also one of the grieving people who had just lost a dear friend and colleague.
And, with her appearance, especially as a person who is no longer with SM, all of us roared with cheers. I say roar because it was seriously much louder than anything I had heard so far during the concerts. We couldn’t even stop cheering when Seohyun started singing. We cheered for a good, long while. More than half of the first verse that Seohyun sang was just wiped out by our cheers – we were that glad to see her.
Seohyun’s singing was STEADY and her voice, DELIGHTFUL. She has a soft, gentle voice, sweet and smooth. It felt so great to see Seohyun on stage with Taeyeon and we went wild with cheers again when they smiled at each other and hugged. It was like the most natural hug ever and totally heart-warming.
There was a change in Taeyeon as well, having someone she’s close to and comfortable with on stage with her. And the conversation Taeyeon and Seohyun had after Winter Story went on for a long time but it didn’t feel long at all. It was natural, comfortable conversation between two people who were great friends and open with each other. We all know what that looks and sounds like.
They talked about lots of things. We cheered again at the mention of Seohyun going to the US. Of course, Tiffany was brought up and more cheers came. They talked about their dogs – it was so cute. And Seohyun wanted to bring Ppoppo to Taeyeon’s place to meet Zero. HAHA.
Everything was cute, but the funniest was when Seohyun joked about having to leave because she wasn’t in SM anymore. That was great. I love it when they joke so easily about things that everybody else are so uptight and nervous about. To me, that means they had already worried about everything, thought of everything, explored all options, settled on a decision they are all in on and are confident about it.
Anyway, we had no idea what was going to happen next, so we were ecstatic when they sang another song together. Merry Christmas! They did beautiful harmony together and it was adorable when they looked at each other and went Merry Christmas!
I was sorry to see Seohyun leave the stage after the second song, but it was Taeyeon’s concert after all. But Taeyeon started on one of my all-time favourite Christmas songs and I was happy again.
Taeyeon did better for the rest of the concert even though she got emotional during one of her later talks. She talked about how this day isn’t coming back again and that was when she paused a little. Of course, all of us yelled our support and she gathered herself again, continuing well. At the same time, I was reminded of how special the circumstances of this concert was. T_T
The concert picked up at the end with her ultra happy segment starting from Dear Santa and interestingly enough, there was an additional VCR at the end after the stage doors closed on Taeyeon. It wasn’t shown on the first day so we don’t know if it was a mistake or deliberate.
The day ended with chimaek with my friends at a place that opened late enough in Gangnam.
It was a good day.
Sunday, December 24
Once again, after a super late night, I woke up with just enough time to get ready for the day and report for the bus. We were trucked super early to the venue once again and our guide cutely bemoaned how she was the first bus to reach again. She was fairly concerned for us because it was raining and she was seemingly upset we couldn’t walk about freely in this weather. She even offered us tips on where we could find the toilets which was adorable and sweet.
Anyway, we dropped off and found a sandwich shop to camp in until it was time for the concert. Nothing much happened at the shop. Just a bunch of people eating. HAHA.
Moments before the concert started, we heard the ruckus which meant some idols had arrived and I turned around to see who it was. Yoona was obvious to my eyes. Short hair and complexion that glowed. Then I spotted Yuri. She was less obvious (little makeup) but she was wearing a hat and that made me look at her face.
Today’s concert opened with a lot of energy. It’s the last day after all and everyone was going all out. There was some problem with the music during the opening song, however, and Taeyeon had to stop singing for a verse, waiting for the music to take a familiar turn, before finding an entrance to sing into.
The songs that followed were better sung. I dare say, Taeyeon was more ‘in-the-zone’ on this day and pulled off stronger adlibs and belting than in the first two days. For one, she had obviously done some corrective work behind the scenes and didn’t miss the timing to pull her mic off the stand during Shhh. She also didn’t go the wrong way while exiting.
All in all, it was a much better performance, closer to her usual standard, or at least, the standard she had shown in PERSONA.
Seohyun’s appearance was warmly welcomed, but we didn’t cheer for as long as yesterday. HAHA. So we got to hear her sing the first few lines that had been cheered over previously.
Taeyeon and Seohyun switched sides today and on this day, I was seated 1/F, section D, which is stage right, so I got to face Taeyeon again during their conversation (because they looked at each other while talking).
Today’s conversation is just as adorable and funny and lovely. The cheers were extra loud when Taeyeon mentioned missing Tiffany and contacting her (kekeke). After the conversation, Taeyeon and Seohyun sang Merry Christmas again and this round, they hugged a lot more overall. Seohyun even lifted Taeyeon and spun her as they hugged. HAHA. Too cute!
The rest of the concert proceeded well and Taeyeon sang her English Christmas songs well. Today’s My Grown Up Christmas List was the best out of the three nights and I feel fortunate I could be there to hear it.
The most emotional part of the concert would be the moment when Taeyeon revealed who her Christmas tree is from. The way she talked about her friend was with such gentleness and fondness. Fans who had shouted for her to give the tree away were totally apologizing then. And she had the cheek to ask if fans still wanted the tree after saying all that (lol). Cheeky Taeyeon.
It was also a reality check. Taeyeon had done such a good job of delivering her concert that you can forget about all the sad things in the world. But with that, you remember that this performer standing on stage is still fresh from the week of grief. It reminds you of how incredible this performer is, to be able to deliver good cheer on stage even as the grief remains in a corner of her heart.
The concert ended with the encore, but there was a plan to stay and cheer for an en-encore. She did come back out for a short while, a short chat and then we bid her goodbye for the year.
An all-you-can-eat BBQ dinner with friends was the wonderful close to the day.
Till next time! I miss my friends already!