Thursday, 11 October 2012

Were You There At Psy's Gangnam Style Concert?

With all his swarming fans, both local and from overseas, converging at the Seoul Plaza last Thursday, the city government had to close down the main thoroughfares around the concert venue. I guess he's now bigger than Rain
             (The intersection across Lotte 
      Department Store in Myeong-dong)
                          (At the back of the stage)

 Last year, Rain was only able to close Yeongdong Boulevard at his concert near COEX.  Actually, it was only four lanes of the boulevard. 
    (The street leading to Seoul Plaza)
(The police ready enforce crowd control      near the new City Hall building)

But this year, Psy was able to close down that street from City Hall to Lotte Hotel in Myeong-dong, the stretch from Seoul Plaza up to the intersection of Namdaemun, and the avenue leading from Seoul Plaza up to the main Gwanghwamun square. 
And not only that, he commandeered hundreds of policemen to control thousands of fans around the concert venue, and even extended the bus and subway train operating hours passed the drivers' bedtime.

              (Psy addressing his fans as 
              seen from the back stage)

And swinging by the concert area, I saw that thousands wouldn't mind staying up late to enjoy, dance and scream to Psy's rapping and songs that night.
(Photographers, TV crew and maybe a few fans at the top of the old City Hall building)

From Hannam-dong, I took the Blue Bus 472 as this bus usually swings around the Seoul Plaza. But since that street was closed to traffic that night, the driver detoured and dropped us right in front of Lotte Department Store, which was about a hundred meters away from the screams and roar of the fans, which got louder and louder as I walked towards the plaza.

From the Tourist Information 1330 and a couple of news articles that day, I learned the concert would start at 10PM. So, I left home at 9:30 to give me enough travel time for my bus ride, thinking once the bus exited the Namsan Tunnel, Myeong-dong traffic would welcome us. But to my surprise, no traffic!

(Perhaps the youngest Psy 
fan that night?)
I then joined people who were walking towards the plaza, who were like moths being drawn towards light. Although for a moment, I thought of Psy as the Pied Piper of Hamelin, drawing out his fans and leading them to the concert venue. And instead of a pipe, Psy had his Gangnam Style rap!
                (The man of the hour)
My plan was just to look-see that night, and take photos of the spectacle. But when I arrived at the backstage area, trying to figure out the performers waiting for their cue, a guy in very long yellow-green chaleco and loose white pants waiting among a group of sexily-clad dancers turned out to be the man of the hour! I wasn't even in the area for five minutes and I saw him already?! Ha-ha-ha!

And I realized how a big deal it was to see him when a girl in front of me, who stood by the railings, started screaming his name and ending her phrases with 'hooo!' Of course, she was jumping up and down, too. Now, this was a real Psy fan, I told myself.

Well, it was time for me to move on and continue my look-see. That is if, I could squeeze my way in. But since I wasn't going to join the jumping-up-and-down and horse-galloping while Psy rapped, I simply walked around the perimeters with my camera and moved on to the other side in front of the Deoksugung (palace).

Gosh, male teenagers were climbing up the scaffoldings of a temporary structure to get a better view, while others were contented simply standing and watching the giant TV screens from afar and sing-along with Psy. A few hundred meters from ground zero didn't matter at all. The sound was loud and the excitement was all around.

And I could just imagine if you were in the middle of that crowd at Seoul Plaza, squeezed in among the thousands with the mind-boggling energy of the moment, and rapping to his every song and of course, finally galloping with everyone else to Oppa Gangnam Style

The news the day after said that the crowd was between 50,000 to 80,000. I wasn't sure if they counted me in. Ha-ha-ha! But as the concert continued, I made my way towards the Namdaemun Market area at the stop of the Blue Bus 402, which would bring me back to Hannam-dong.
           (This vendor must have sold a 
            lot of oranges that night)
As I left the scene, people were still trickling in not wanting to miss the free concert, and to take part of the global phenomenon of Psy and his Oppa Gangnam Style.
Were you there, too?

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