FT Island are SO FUCKING AWESOME !!!

What’s the difference between “creepy” and “friendly” ? Well, creepy is when you hang out in the Kpop aisle of your local music store in Chinatown and approach all the single girls between 18 and 36 and ask them if they want to go a concert with you and they say “No”. Whereas friendly is when you ask them and they say “Yes”. No, that’s not some little philosophical pondering. That’s how I got a date to the FT Island concert in Kuala Lumpur last night. How did you think I was going to get one ?

I originally had a Chinese girl who was a friend of a Malaysian guy I know from online who was supposed to come, but there was a family emergency that kept her friend from going, and she didn’t want to come to a concert with a strange guy on her own. And well, they don’t come much stranger than me. So, with a mere 30 minutes to spare before the doors opened to FT Island’s concert in Kuala Lumpur, I wandered back down the street to Sultan street in Chinatown and hung out at the music store thinking that I could find some girl into Kpop there who might wanna come along.

To my credit, I didn’t get maced or slapped in the face once, and I only had to ask four girls unsuccessfully before I was about to give up and go alone when I saw a girl coming out of the store on her own. I approached her and asked “Hi, do you like Korean music ?” She looked at me with a wry grin and said “I don’t know. I’ve never heard any, why ?” I said “I have two tickets to a Korean rock concert tonight which starts in under 30 minutes and my friend cancelled on me so I have noone to go with. Would you like to come ?” To my surprise she gave me a big grin and said “Sure, why not ? I have free time tonight. I fly out at 4am in the morning”.

We headed up the hill towards Stadium Negara, a big old dome that was built in the 60’s where they have their indoor events in Kuala Lumpur and chatted on the way. Her name was Gloria and she was 27 years old and from Chile, though she had most recently been living in New Zealand and was heading back there in the morning. She was an elementary school teacher back home and 5 months ago she didn’t speak a word of English, which amazed me because she spoke so well, although her accent was very heavy and I had to ask her to repeat things many times.

We lined up outside with our tickets among thousands of Korean and Malay girls and a much smaller number of guys (FT Island are very popular with the girls, being a popular all-male rock band) and waited in anticipation. The gates opened not long after we arrived and we started making our way in, but a security guard stopped me and said “Sir. No cameras allowed”. I already had my press card around my neck so I just held it up and said “Is this ok ?” and he looked at it and said “Oh, media. So sorry, no problem sir. Go right ahead”. I grinned and thanked my stars I always carry that when I’m photographing and we headed in.

We were in the free seating area at the back right of the stadium, which really wasn’t very large at all. And by seating I mean it was just concrete stairs and you could tell it was a pretty old venue. As people streamed in and they started hyping the crowd up with images of the band on the big screen, Gloria leant over and said “This is really exciting, isn’t it ? I don’t even know who this band is, but everyone is so hyped up”. I nodded and said “I really don’t know the band that much. There’s only a few songs of theirs I know well, but I think they will put on a good show”.

And put on a good show they most certainly did. I was a little miffed at the small size of the stage they were on and the small amount of seating available, because it just PALED in comparison to seeing SNSD at Olympic Stadium in Sydney, which surprised me because it would seem Kpop is quite popular here as it’s sold in many stores, although possibly that’s for the Korean tourists, I don’t know. Nevertheless, when they came out on stage, the crowd erupted. There was one REALLY excited guy sitting beside me just cheering and yelling at the top of his lungs and a few of the Muslim girls turned around and gave him this amused smile out of deference to his enthusiasm. Incidentally, it’s sorta amusing to me, not having been to a heavily Islamic country to see a crowd full of girls in hijabs nodding their heads in time at a rock concert, though there were lots of Koreans too, and obviously they weren’t Muslim, so no hijabs on them.

From the first song, you could tell it was going to be an intense concert. The accoustics in the hall really didn’t seem that good to me and I thought it was a little muffled, but the light show was still excellent and they had fireworks and lots of lovely coloured lights and things and I can’t possibly say it wasn’t a well orchestrated event. The lead singer, Lee was just so incredibly energetic. He did not stop running around, jumping up and down and spinning around during the whole show, which went for almost three hours.

The second song they did was “Hello Hello” and it was just awesome and one of my favourite FT Island songs because it just has such a catchy sounding chorus (though it consists of only 4 English words, they are catchy let me assure you). They did about five songs and then the lights went down and they went off-stage and I thought “Oh. Is that it ? I hope there’s an encore”. Well, I guess they were just having a short break and giving the audience a rest because they came back and played for ages after that. Mostly the songs they played earlier in the night were the most intense rock songs, though there were a few great hard ones later as well.

Towards the end, they all took another brief break and then the drummer came down from his drum-kit (which was good because I couldn’t see him from where we were sitting) and all five of them sat down on stools to do some accoustic numbers which were just beautiful, although I would loved to hear them in a better setting, accoustically. I was just grinning the whole time, enjoying it so much. I had no idea they were going to be as cool as they were and I was really, really impressed by their energy and how cool they all were. The guitarists were just shredding and some of their solos were just unbelievable and they all took turns at singing various parts as well.

Right at the end, they thanked everyone for coming and suggested they hoped we all checked out some of the other great Korean music that’s popular right now and then did a final high-energy song with fireworks, and then some cannons shot all these streamers out into the crowd and then they released tonnes and tonnes of glittery gold squares from the roof in a beautiful rain of glitter as Lee took centre stage and walked down the front catwalk area in this rain of glitter and I just thought “Wow. That is kpop as fuck. They really know how to entertain”. As the lights fell and they walked off stage, everyone was screaming and the guy beside me was positively going nuts. I don’t think anyone left that concert unimpressed by FT Island’s great performance and I am so glad that I chose to attend, and you can be assured, they are now one of my favourite Asian rock bands and I bought one of their DVD’s from the music store in Jalan Sultan.

Gloria had to go just before the end sadly as she needed to go home and pack, but she saw most of the show, so we had a brief hug and she thanked me for inviting her and headed off to catch her plane to New Zealand. I was pretty keen to get home and process my photos anyway. Sadly many were pretty bad as I had no tripod and it was dark, but out of about 1,200 photos, I chose 230 of the best on the night and I think there are some pretty magical ones that will help me remember FT Island’s concert in Kuala Lumpur for a long time to come.

Thanks to Gloria for coming with me, thanks for FT Island for putting on an amazing show, and thanks to Kuala Lumpur for inviting them and having them play at a stadium only a block from my hotel in Chinatown ! I’m so glad everything has worked out so well in Malaysa so far and I’ve had a great time even though I have really seen very few tourist sites, but that’s not really what I travel for. I travel to meet cool people and do interesting things that are unique to me and that most other people wouldn’t consider doing, and last night I certainly did that. Hooray for Malaysia and Hooray for Korean rock music !

The photo gallery for this one is pretty huge, so here’s two of the YouTube videos I recorded at the concert. There’s actually one more still uploading, so check back later if you really wanna see that. After that, enjoy the photos. OMG aren’t they cool ? I LOVE FT ISLAND !

Here’s a couple of my favourite photos, then the rest of the gallery. I suggest you click on the first one and then when it opens in Picasa, just hit slideshow.

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3 Responses to FT Island are SO FUCKING AWESOME !!!

  1. Ellie says:

    AKAIK you’ve got the awsner in one!

    • Whitney says:

      i m visit Malaysia too next month, i m going to stay in Renaissance Hotel it is located in the Golden gliantre and has a view on the twin towers(10 min walk)the location is very good because you can see a lot of things nearby, like the new Aquaria (biggest aquarium in Asia).it is 45 min ride from the airport.it is a five stars hotel, i read a lot of reviews, everybody is recommending it.i m bocking it for 50$ the first night, and then 30$ each additional night,which i think is good for a 5 stars hotel, offering such services.you can also be interested in Istana Hotel (5 stars).

      • pawz says:

        Sounds awesome. Personally I cannot fault the China Town Inn, because being right on Petaling street you could not possibly closer to the heart of Chinatown, and that to me was the real Malaysia. Sure, Petronas Towers were mind-blowingly awe-inspiring. I’d watched the documentary on their construction less than a week earlier, but when I was there standing right in front of them I was like “Holy Shit. I just didn’t think they’d be THIS big. This is…. like nothing I have ever seen in my life”.

        I didn’t like KLCC much. Petaling street is somewhere I could spend years. Just blend in as one of the “local foreigners” and live there for no reason other than it felt so warm and familiar to me. I mostly ate at the same food hall every day, I’d go to the same stores. Sure that’s not adventurous, but that’s how I travel. I like to pick somewhere and just stay there and go nowhere at all and just see what it’s like to live in somewhere like Petaling Street, a street so famous it has it’s own TV drama series about it called Petaling Street Warriors.

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