On 24 January 2019 (Sunday), I went to 乐华七子 NEXT concert in Dewan Wawasan, Menara PGRM.
If you’ve heard of NEXT, you either (1) Watched Produce 101 and liked Jung Jung or Justin; (2) Watched 偶像练习生 Idol Producer; (3) Know 范冰冰 Fan Bing Bing and her brother 范丞丞 Fan Cheng Cheng.
And if you don’t, here’s how the story goes: NEXT is a 7 member boy group under 乐华娱乐 Yuehua Entertainment. Their logo is drawn as NEX7 and group name is pronounced as NEXT. Yuehua first attracted attention when Super Junior ex-member 韩庚 Han Geng joined the company. It is a very big company in China and has partnerships with Korean companies. Its trainees train in Korea, which is why they are more talented compared to some other trainees because Korea has better talent-training system.
The 3 members with highest popularity in NEXT are 朱正廷 Theo (Zhu Zheng Ting), 黄明昊 Justin (Hwang Ming Hao), 范丞丞 Adam (Fan Cheng Cheng). Theo and Justin participated in Produce 101 in Korea with 3 other Korean trainees. After the show, the next year, they, along with 5 other Chinese trainees came to China and participated in 偶像练习生 Idol Producer (Chinese version of Produce 101 organized by 爱奇艺 iQiyi). Theo, Justin and Adam made it into the final line up of the show, debuting as Nine Percent, and Yuehua decided to pull them along to debut as NEXT in China since they are so popular. So currently, 3 of them are promoting in two groups but Nine Percent is just a temporary group that promotes for 18 months only (*insert a waterfall of tears* please give 9% lots of love). Thus, Yuehua is often being blamed for tiring the boys and disrupting Nine Percent’s group activities for its own benefits because Yuehua could’ve waited for Nine Percent to end before debuting NEXT but it didn’t. And when NEXT debuted, Yuehua sends them to countless activities and even organizes world tour when they only have a few songs.
Yuehua is often described as 只有星探在做事的公司 the company that only casting agents are working because there are so many outstanding, good-looking and well-mannered artists and trainees but the company treats them like shit or as money makers. Some artists are not properly promoted or hidden in the company. For example, UNIQ, a Chinese-Korean boy group (A member, 李汶翰 Li Wen Han, recently participated in 青春有你 Qing Chun You Ni (basically Idol Producer season 2) and I like him so much omg lol please support him ~)
Okay, enough with the above shit. I’m finally gonna talk about the concert. Unlike Korean fans, fans in China mostly focus heavily on one member only. Tbh, I don’t like it. If you like the group, you should like it as a whole not because there is a member that you really like and you just follow the group just because he is in it. Besides, they have different colours for each member. It makes the concert very messy with different colours of lightsticks unlike Korean groups that unite their lightsticks to make a beautiful ocean. My favourite member is Justin and his fan’s zone is on the left side so I bought L zone too, and I can’t go to a concert empty-handed so I bought a few fan items online.
The special thing about this concert is there are chances for you to get fan benefits, including Hi-Touch (high five), Group Photo, Signed Poster, and Selca Polaroid. Everyone can also get an official poster. It’s not very common for artists to give this kind of benefit because it is super up-close. They’ve never given these benefits in China concerts because I think the fans are too crazy and there are too many of them so it’s probably too hard to control, and imagine how many hands they need to clap. I bought CAT1 ticket and got the high five benefit holy shit macaroni let me scream.
It was announced that fans have to collect wristbands for the benefits they are entitled to. If you lost your wristband then bye ~ At first, the gathering time for Hi-Touch was 2pm but they set it earlier to 12pm. I only received this info when I arrived, good thing I got there early (around 11.20am). There were about 600 people entitled for Hi-Touch. I collected my wristband quite early, I saw the number on my wristband was 164. Malaysia is NEXT’s first overseas stop for their 2nd concert tour and it is also the first concert right after Justin’s birthday on 19/2. Hearing all the good benefits fans can get, many China fans flew over to attend this concert. It doesn’t even feel like a concert in Malaysia anymore cause 75-80% of the fans were from China, especially lots and lots of Justin’s fans. Those people that got the fan benefits were mostly fans from China too. I wish more Malaysians had this chance instead since China fans are always so close to their idols. They can see them almost every day unlike us that only get to see them through our phones. The members even remember some of the very famous fansites.
China fans are very crazy and enthusiastic. They are very good at doing fan support activities and can do anything for their idols. It’s like they’ve devoted their entire life on their idols. They follow them everywhere they go (sometimes going overboard). There were a bunch of fan items to collect at the venue. However, it didn’t feel like I was in a family as everyone was so separated (remember this important point, most of them focus heavily on one member). Before collecting the fan items, the China fans will check your data like did you follow the idol on Weibo, did you buy his album online, did you donate money to fanclub. They make sure that you are fully into the idol. Since my favourite member is Justin, I can collect almost all of Justin’s fan items. I wanted to collect other member’s items too but I was afraid that I’m not qualified to. There were very few fan items for NEXT as a whole but I can kinda tell that Malaysian fans are mostly fans of the entire group instead of just one member since most of us are also Kpop fans. Kpop focuses more on group. China fans tend to quarrel a lot among each other. They always fight to make the member that they like stand out more. They want their favourite to be the best and only scream the name of their favourite member at concerts.
I was right in the hall when a staff told me to start lining up for Hi-Touch so I was super early. I was 7th out of the entire 600 people wow. We climbed to 4th floor and sat on the floor for two hours lol I was super hungry. Some of the fans couldn’t sit down cause they were wearing super short skirts or pants. At 2.30pm, the door finally opened. Everyone had to switch off their phones and put it in their bags since photography is strictly prohibited (you’re gonna look at them in the eye anyway). While waiting, I could see Bi Wen Jun at backstage. I kinda stared at him for like a second before the backstage door closes. Oh my god.
When they came on stage, everyone screamed. Well, except for me probably lol. I’m the kind that is star-struck, stunned and speechless. I think they are used to the fans screaming super loud in China so when you seem so calm, they might think you don’t like them, but heck no, I wish they know that we love them as much as other fans. It’s just that some people don’t show their craziness this crazily. It’s not a tradition in our country unlike China and Korea.
The entire Hi-Touch was like a dream. I kept focusing on high-fiving their hands and had to remind myself to look up look up look at them you stupid. Li Quan Zhe is literally like a cute fluffy hamster. He looked so round on the chair with his super red hair. Ding Ze Ren high-fived very formally. Fan Cheng Cheng was hilarious, he held his hand out and waited for me to clap it instead lol this brat. I don’t know how long I stared at Zhu Zheng Ting. I probably lost my soul. He was probably thinking what are you doing, faster high five lah. I was wearing a mickey mouse hairband with Justin’s name on. I said “Happy Birthday” to Justin, I hope he heard it. His smile was so cute. I heard the girl behind me said “You are so cute” to him. Bi Wen Jun and Huang Xin Chun were very polite, they nodded their heads. Trust me, if guys in my university are so good-looking, I would be so awake every day. I think they became more active later. When I high-five, they were still quite shy. Everyone was on crazy mode after high-fiving. I can’t tell they are crying or screaming. I went home to take a short rest as the concert starts at 7pm.
I arrived quite late at the venue cause of the rain and traffic jam. When I got into the hall, my seat was actually GONE lol. My seat was supposed to be Cat1 L Row A7 Seat 26 but the chairs were everywhere (when you finally realize you’re actually at the last row what the shit). The fans were probably too crazy and a stampede happened I assume. So the staff switched me to Cat1 R Row A2 Seat 23. There were actually many empty seats, I could probably sit where I want. Justin’s fan zone is on the left side, so when I sat on the right side, it was kinda awkward as most of the others were Theo’s fans.
The concert started almost right away when I sit down. Usually, artists come out from like under the stage but there was no stage lift in this hall so they walked out lolll I wanted to laugh. The screens on both sides were pretty blurry and I don’t know what the hell is the cameraman doing so I just look at them on stage since I can actually see their faces. Imagine those seating at first row of VIP (cries of jealousy). The concert was actually pretty short compared to most concerts since they only have a few songs. I feel like my ticket price is mainly for the fan benefit lol but having the chance to see them so close is more than enough, it was so surreal. The fans were so loud my ears hurt, especially the VIP zone. The members said they did not expect Malaysia to be so energetic, well literally most of those screaming are China fans. The members went to the night market the day before at around 1am for snacks. Li Quan Zhe said he didn’t go cause he was having a stomachache, definitely not because he is antisocial hahaha. I think the mango smoothie stall got famous because of them. I should drink it one day too. It was nice that they can spend time freely in Malaysia because when they are in China, they can’t even walk out of their doorstep. The members also said they are releasing the 3rd album really soon and they will have their 3rd concert tour again so high chance they are coming back. I hope there will be fan benefits again cause I totally want to high five them again or get the group photo. Gotta save money, bye ~