How to Survive an EXO Concert, an #EXOrDIUMinSG Experience

Last Sunday, I’d attended an EXO concert for the first time. I’ve been a fan since 2015 (I know, I missed their early years), but never really had the chance to see them until this year. Unprepared for just how kiasu EXO-Ls in Singapore could be, I faced a few narrow brushes with Death. And against all odds, I survived! I started drafting this pretty much as soon as I got home, thrumming with the remnants of the adrenaline rush. Sleep evaded me for two nights in a row. I’m still shook.

If you’d simply like to read about the concert itself, scroll down this mini novel and skip to the bonus section after Step 11.

Step 1: Check for announcements

You can’t possibly attend one of these if SM haven’t announced that they’re willing to allow EXO to share the same space and breathe the same air as you. Tough luck so far, European fans. But still, never say never.

Step 2: Add the EXO’rDIUM date to your calendar

Set multiple alarms for it on your phone. Set countdown timers. Ask your concert buddy to remind you. Remind your concert buddy. Because if you forget, all the good seats will be gone before you can finish saying shawty I’mma party til the sun down. And even then, you might not even be guaranteed of a good seat if you’re not savvy enough.

Step 3: On ticketing day, park your ass in front of your computer

FIND THE BEST INTERNET SPEED CONNECTION YOU CAN GET. Go to your school library if your dorm internet sucks. Or visit an internet café with reliable internet. Whatever works best for you. Still, don’t be surprised if the system crashes. It did in Singapore. Keep your head together even if it does. Don’t panic like I did. You can do it!

You might wanna find out which side of the stage your favourite members like to hang around at beforehand. Sometimes, fansite masters will ask to trade for tickets in that section, because they’ve attended past concerts with similar layouts, so you can follow suit.

Sometimes, people might release tickets that they were assigned to by the system. They’re usually allowed to hang on to tickets for a certain set period (usually to allow people to enter their particulars and the like), after which they would either voluntarily release them or are forced out. I made the mistake of panicking and forgetting that this happens. This part does require some level of luck though. Godspeed.

WARNING: Beware of ticket scalpers. They’ll buy tickets and re-sell them at higher prices. Let them lose money and don’t give in to the temptation. But of course, sometimes there are genuine sellers who just want to get rid of their tickets. Ensure their legitimacy before making any transactions. Meeting sellers in person is usually the best option from my experience. This goes both ways.

Step 4: Do research on any fan support efforts (or spearhead one)

This usually happens whenever a fanbase is sizeable enough and/or any significant event coincides with the concert. But if you’re deeply involved in the fandom, you could plan them with other like-minded EXO-Ls. Most of the time, these things will be announced and spread via Twitter, so it helps to have an account there just to check. There are usually 2 types:

1. Regular fan-made individual/group support banners

Some EXO-Ls, usually fan unions, will order banners in bulk (among other freebies) so that their fellow fans have something to show their support with. It helps to be aware of any of these beforehand so you can plan your day ahead of time, such as arriving in time so these won’t run out. I’ve never waved banners in my years of concert-going before this. AND I WANTED TO SUPPORT BOTH KAI AND CHEN AT THE SAME TIME. I needed four arms. I had two. It was torture.

To make things worse, I LOST MY FREE CHEN BANNER. IT WAS UPSETTING! I knew that my butter fingers were going to be my undoing some day. Fortunately, one of the fans (@contradichen, bless her) behind the project knew Chen Bar. They were still handing out banners so she let me have theirs without queuing instead (even if I lost the pretty pink one… RIP). I never lost my freebies, so thank god for that. Look how cute they are! They look like him! I’m never using them!

EXO'rDIUM Chen fan support

2. Fan projects to commemorate special events

Again, this might not happen if no one in your country has planned any, or if the concert doesn’t coincide with any significant dates, such as an EXO member’s birthday. In Singapore, the concert was days ahead of EXO’s 5th Anniversary as well as Sehun’s birthday. Plus, Lay was missing. This was all the tip of the iceberg. As a fossilised EXO-L, unable to keep up with whippersnappers, I wasn’t really able to keep tabs on most of them. I barely remembered to raise the special 5th anniversary banner during the encore! But I eventually did towards the end.

Step 5: Be considerate before, during, and after EXO’rDIUM

Do not be a dick. This should be a given, but for some reason, some people seem to believe that being a decent person is far too mainstream.

If you’re waiting for EXO in your city’s airport arrival hall, do not crowd into their personal space. They’re not interactive exhibits to be gawked and prodded at. People barely gave the boys room to breathe, but it was arguably even worse for Kai. It’s great that one of them owned up to her mistake, and apologised to Kai in the crowd. But this should never have happened in the first place. I know it’s very exciting to see idols in person, but we gotta remember our boundaries.

Also, if you hate any of them for whatever reasons you may have, please refrain from engaging in harmful behaviour. They’re human beings, real people with real emotions. I’m pointing this out because someone allegedly threw a bottle at Xiumin during the concert. I didn’t witness it, but I wouldn’t put it past crazies that seem to be omnipresent. I’m glad Xiumin dear wasn’t hurt.

If you neglect this step, EXO would probably forgive you (like Kai did), but expect it to weigh on your conscience for a long time.

Step 6: Know your gate queues

I had a seat so I didn’t have to queue for the mosh pit. If you’ve got mosh tickets, what you should do will depend on your organiser. In Singapore, One Production set numbered queues in order to prevent fans from queueing overnight. So check with your organisers. Very important. If your ticket does not have a queue number, you might have to head over to the venue very early if you want a good spot.

If you’re like me, just check your ticket, the concert plan, and get excited!

Step 7: Prepare logistics ahead of time and dress practically

If you’re seated, you might be able to get away with most outfits if you’re just there for the minimum. But if you’re going to be moving around a lot, do yourself a favour and wear clothes that don’t restrict your movement. However, if you think you’re up for it, you may wish to consider platform shoes for that additional height boost. I don’t recommend this if you’re as ungraceful or excitable as I am.

Here’s a recommended pack list, based on this very useful reminder list by @contradichen:

  1. Power bank for your mobile devices (this is VERY important)
  2. Cash (merch booths might not allow payment via credit/debit cards)
  4. Discreet recording devices (eg. mobile phones… or if you’re fansite master level of discreet, you can try sneaking in a proper camera)
  5. Any banners or other fan support items (optional)
  6. Lightstick if you have one already
  7. Extra AAA batteries for lightstick
  8. Umbrella
  9. Tissues
  10. Pen

Most importantly, remember to hydrate yourself. Most concert venues will impose a ban on water bottles (usually for safety reasons) but they usually sell beverages within the premises. I found that simply hydrating myself frequently beforehand works just as well. This is extra important if you bought tickets to the mosh pit. Take care of yourselves so you can actually have fun!

Step 8: Be there hours ahead of time

This could be important for various reasons, depending on how much you’re willing to invest on the experience. If you’re there for the minimum, you might simply want to head down just in time for the gates to open. But if you like, you could join in the queue for the merchandise line and/or queues for fan-made banners and freebies. Or you need to secure yourself a good spot in the mosh pit.

If your country’s concert organiser is decent enough, they might source official lightsticks, and let me tell you, forming the merchandise line was not pretty. I scoped the area for any tents, kept an eye on it, and yet barely escaped unscathed. Around an hour before it was slated to begin, I was still in the area when people were beginning to queue. So I calmly did the same. BUT THEN OTHERS STARTED FUCKING RUNNING LIKE ZOMBIES IN 28 DAYS LATER. I didn’t want to be trampled on in the stampede, so I quickly stepped in. Twas a good thing I was already a couple of meters away from the queue. And even then, some started cutting it before one of the employees finally stepped in.

On to free fan support. Fan unions will usually distribute these things early. It’s usually really useful to keep track of them on Twitter because they will tweet their locations. If you’re a hardcore fan of a particular member, you might be able to jump queues. For instance, fans who made their own Chen emoji fan in Singapore could join the express line and collect free Chen goodies quicker than the normal queue.

Chen fan!
These were the fans I made… the original plan was just to make one Chen fan to jump that queue but I wound up making one for Kai too. And that’s the official light stick I never intended to buy. Capitalism keeps winning.

Step 9: Remember to feed and hydrate yourself beforehand

You might not have much of an appetite from all the excitement, but try to grab a quick bite beforehand anyway. It’ll pay off. And of course, I cannot emphasize this enough: HYDRATE YOURSELF! If you can, grab a bottle from the refreshment stand within the concert venue itself so you can hydrate yourself frequently.

Step 10: Have fun!

Here comes the best part! If you’ve followed my steps, you’d know where to go, and be able to find your way around quite easily. Just keep your eyes peeled. Still, don’t be afraid to ask others for directions or help. Most people would be happy to lend a hand if you ask nicely.

Before anything else, take care of yourself as well as any others around you, especially if you’re in the mosh pits. Do not push others around, and look out for anyone in need of help. Everyone will be able to listen to their beautiful voices live regardless.

But of course, ENJOY YOURSELF! If you know the fanchants, don’t hold back. I must admit that I was absolutely terrible at this. Still, I tried with the more obvious fanchants, and sang along to 90% of the English lyrics.

I was mostly pleased with the setlist, even if one of my favourite songs of theirs (Hurt) was snubbed for no good reason. This Wikipedia page is actually surprisingly mostly accurate at the time of this post’s publication. My favourite part was probably the acoustic segment. I thought it would be Artificial Love, but no. The acoustic segment somehow made me temporarily love Call Me Baby, one of my least favourite EXO title tracks. That is a miracle in itself.

Also, see Step 5 again.

BONUS: Highlights from EXO’rDIUM

I couldn’t actually take pictures because I was too busy focusing on the concert, so I’m sorry about that. But I will add links to some fan videos that I think you should see. I’m skipping commentary on the VCRs though. They were a creative way of allowing the boys to change their outfits, but I’d already seen them beforehand anyways.

  • MAMA (remix)

I love this song and their performance met my expectations. But what I remembered best about it was the fact that I was equal parts hyped, and tickled by the fact that the lyrics “CARELESS, CARELESS, SHOOT ANONYMOUS, ANONYMOUS, HEARTLESS, MINDLESS” were flashing on the screens in a really obnoxious font. It was so delightfully extra. I loved it.

  • Monster (remix)

I don’t really have the words for this. The song in itself is a fan favourite for a damn good reason. But actually listening to it live, with the bass amplified, was something else. Everyone screamed when the familiar notes kicked in. I screamed throughout the entire concert. My throat still feels raw.

  • Wolf (Remix)

This was the one song that I’m still unable to appreciate, even the slightest bit, even after witnessing its live performance. I’m sorry. I don’t care how much they tried to remix it. Still, I could easily overlook it because I really had to leave for the ladies’, and only listened to a muffled version. I’d joked with my fandom friends about mysteriously leaving when they perform Wolf before, but my bladder seemed to time itself perfectly, and I genuinely did need to relieve myself. I’m happy, Wolf lovers are happy, everyone is happy.

  • Ment 1 – Introduction

Honestly, I struggled to focus on whatever they were saying half the time. I was so starstruck. I was actually seeing them with my own two eyeballs. We were breathing the same humid air… Wow… I think I laughed at something they said at some point. I’m not sure, I’m still shook. EXO lied about missing us (I know they did, don’t tell me otherwise), but I accepted their pretty little lies all the same. Chen is the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I was jealous of everyone in the mosh pits — they could probably even see their sweat. But then again, it was a good thing that I was sitting down for the first part. Imagine collapsing from their beauty. My pride would never recover.

  • White Noise

So, after the mistake that was Wolf, EXO made it up to me by performing White Noise. EX’ACT is polarising, even among fans, but to me, it was one of EXO’s more cohesive albums. And I do rate White Noise pretty highly. The choreography itself wasn’t something to write home about, but I wasn’t really put off by that. What impressed me more at this point was their passion. I remember that Chanyeol said they were determined to give it their all since they were there for just one day; they definitely did that, and carried on throughout the entire concert.

  • Thunder

I looked forward to Thunder because D.O. and Chen are always incredibly adorable in all those fancams I’d seen. I don’t care about the fact that it’s part of the choreography. They always do it a little differently every time. BUT I wish I’d invested in binoculars so I could really see them up close because I couldn’t fully appreciate their part. I guess they can rectify this by coming back and performing the song again.

  • Playboy

With Playboy, I had to make a quick executive decision between focusing on Chen and Kai, so I ended up mostly paying attention to the latter. Kai’s dancing has always enthralled me, even before I was ever a fan of EXO. And it’s no different here. I was once again reminded of the reason why Kai is my second favourite EXO member. Not like I really needed it, but I loved the reminder nonetheless.

  • Artificial Love; Unfair

I’m SO disappointed for this because I’d planned my seat to be close to Chen during Artificial Love. This was the one stage I really wanted him to be closer to my section for. But alas, it was not meant to be. I could see him from where I was, but he was but a beautiful speck in the distance. I suppose I could simply watch fancams… But it was just UNFAIR how I couldn’t watch Chen dance to Artificial Love up close and personal. And of course the boys just had to add salt to my wound by singing “I know it’s unfair” afterwards. It really is unfair. Luckily, Kai was nearby the entire time. That helped a little bit.

  • Acoustic Medley (My Lady; My Turn To Cry; Moonlight; Call Me Baby; Love, Love, Love; Lady Luck)

Like I said, this was my favourite segment ever. I wish it lasted longer, with full acoustic versions. I mean, they made me appreciate Call Me Baby. That’s quite a feat considering the number of times I’ve bitched about it since its release. There was something special about listening to them sing, stripped down (not literally, sadly), only accompanied by Chanyeol’s guitar. Even their non-main vocalists sounded absolutely lovely live. Chen softens his voice for this entire segment, and the result was indescribable, in the best possible way. It was so pure. He is so beautiful.

  • What If…

D.O. was the highlight of this song. There’s no question about that. Everyone knows that R&B is his forte, and it felt like What If was written for him and his velvety voice.

  • Tender Love; Love Me Right

Tender Love still reminds me of KFC. Don’t ask me to explain it. Chen mistook the lightstick for a microphone at this point. Poor boy, bless him. I’m still on the fence about Love Me Right, but I don’t loathe it as much as Wolf, so all is well. My concert buddy liked Love Me Right though. Mixed feelings and all, I got over it pretty quickly because of the next song. Plus, Chen is such a cutie, smiling so hard during the song, and I’m weak.

  • One and Only; Stronger

One and Only is one of my favourite songs; I will not stand for any slander against it. The transition from One and Only to Stronger was amazingly seamless, from the boys singing it together as a group with minimal choreography, to SeKai’s dance, and finally right down to Chen, D.O., Suho, and Baekhyun’s Stronger. But while the transition itself was seamless, Stronger, as a song, kind of paled in comparison to One and Only. I’m not going to lie. Still, it did showcase their vastly improved control over their voices.

  • Heaven; Girl x Friend; 3.6.5.

I didn’t realise this during the concert itself, but the setlist arrangement was part of the reason why EXO’rDIUM is so effective. Every single transition felt incredibly organic. Plus, they clearly knew which songs weren’t fan favourites. Those ones were cleverly sandwiched between actual favourites. I know plenty of my fandom friends who dislike 3.6.5.; it’s not really one of my favourite EXO songs either. But I was HELLA HYPED the entire time. I yelled along to all the 3! 6! 5!’s… SM knew what they were doing when they kept this song on the setlist. Don’t knock it until you’ve seen it live, okay?

  • Overdose; Transformer; Lightsaber (remix)

At this point, my hype level was pretty damn high, perfect for one of my favourite EXO songs ever, Overdose. I only knew the lyrics to the Mandarin version, so I sadly couldn’t sing along. Still, I do know the lyrics to the chorus, as well as every single English line. God bless all the English lines in K-POP; what would international fans do without them?

I have mixed feelings about EXO’s wet stages, including the one for Lightsaber. On one hand, seeing the wet material cling onto Chen’s defined back in real life was the stuff of dreams. But it’s still a pretty dangerous stage, even if it is pretty. I’m torn, still.

  • Ment 2

EXO took turns to change out of their wet clothes after dancing in the rain. So Chen, Suho, Baekhyun, D.O., and Chanyeol stayed behind to entertain the crowd. For some reason, K-POP idols love talking about chilli crab in Singapore, so I wasn’t surprised when Suho brought them up. Baekhyun piped up that he likes the bread that comes with the chilli crab more for some reason. And then Suho mentioned kaya?! Idols almost never talk about anything other than chilli crab from the interviews I’ve seen. Colour me impressed! Next time, they should try murtabak.

I was even happier when Chen said that we didn’t care for chilli crab as much because we were too lazy to cut it open. So he said he would do it for us. And of course I fell for it hook, line, sinker. I loathe myself completely. But he said all that while looking utterly adorable with a towel wrapped around him. A girl can only take so much. But enough about that loser. D.O. likes black pepper crab — a man after my own heart. I award them all major points for this segment.

Then they asked us to get ready to sing a birthday song for Sehun while holding up his banner. And we did, both in English and Korean. Chanyeol asked Sehun what he wanted for his birthday. The boy asked for dog snacks for Vivi. I can already imagine all the dog food sent to the SM in the foreseeable future…

Sehun Birthday Singapore
Sehun’s birthday banner!

Next came my favourite Xiumin moment from the concert. Chanyeol, Sehun, and Xiumin had asked us what we wanted them to talk about, but everyone around them were yelling incoherently. Naturally, Xiumin couldn’t understand a damn thing and his reaction was both cute and confusing. You gotta watch it for yourself:

  • EDM segment: Do It Together; Full Moon; Drop That

I’m still not sure how to feel about Do It Together. But Xiumin, Chanyeol, and Sehun looked like they were having so much fun with it that I’m willing to let it slide. The things I do for them honestly. This then led to Full Moon, which is practically an EXO concert staple at this point. It’s not the greatest song in the world, but screaming at the boys’ “I say E-X you say O!” with an “O!” was actually a LOT of fun.

  • Lucky; Run (remix)

I LOVE THESE TWO STAGES. Lucky is really cheesy but it’s just so happy and sweet. The boys always seem to be happiest while singing this one (or they’re good actors). I know a lot of people who dislike Run for some reason, but I’m not at all ashamed of how much I love it. I will call this part of the concert The Segment of Happiness. It made me so happy. I’ve never abused the word ‘happy’ so much since Pharrell’s song. But it really did make me forget all of my worries for a while.

  • VCR (Sing For You)

I know that I said that I wouldn’t talk about the VCRs, but during this part, everyone was singing along to Sing For You while waiting for EXO to return. It was beautiful. I guess it did help that I love the song itself, but I don’t think that’s it. I’ve been to plenty of concerts where fans sang along, but there was something almost wistful about this moment. Or maybe it was just me and my jumble of emotions and adrenaline.

  • Encore: Growl (remix); Lucky One; Final Ment; Angel

Shortly afterwards, the boys returned to the stage for one last time with Growl and Lucky One. To me, the most memorable part about Lucky One was not being sure who was standing on the other end of the stage, until he started dancing to the chorus by himself. There was no way of mistaking Kai’s dancing for anyone else. Either that, or I’m just that in too deep.

During this segment, several fans threw toys on stage. The translation for what Baekhyun said about this was a little confusing, so I’m honestly still lost as to what he really thinks about them. The concert translator made it sound like he actually looked forward to the toys, but I vaguely recall some fans refuting that interpretation. Either way, at least no one was hurt. With the exception of Suho admitting that his leg cramped up during the concert (but it wasn’t during this part). Rest well, Suho dear.

EXO then ended things for real with Angel. And now Angel is always going to be associated with good things coming to an end. Which means that I’m determined to avoid this song at all costs from now on. At least until EXO decides to grace Singapore with their presence again.

Step 12: ???

Chen confused

Step 13: Profit!

YOU’VE DONE IT! You’ve seen the boys live! You might experience post-concert depression after all is said and done though. How do you survive that one? I’ll get back to you once I’m done weeping over pictures and live footage from the concert, and get over mine. Nothing compares to the real thing now. Even the studio versions are nothing in comparison.

And to think that I used to hate EXO in the past…

Michael Scott

The worst part of the concert was the way they kept bringing up the word “comeback” too many times without actually revealing a single damn thing about it. I don’t know why I love them at this point. They could’ve helped with my post-concert depression management by handing me a lifeline in the form of comeback hints. Meanwhile, listen to Nosedive while we wait for actual, concrete information.

Jokes aside, I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy myself as much as I did. EXO’rDIUM was definitely one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended, and I’ve attended plenty. Fan videos, pictures, or even DVDs do not do them any justice. EXO’s concerts are something you need to experience for yourself, in person. If you’ve seen EXO’rDIUM live, come share with us your favourite moments in the comments! Or if you’re going to see them this live in future, tell me which parts you’re looking forward to.

OH!'s resident crazy cat lady and Chen stan

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