Japan, 2016 – It was still half an hour before 6 PM when we got there, but lining up in front of Tokyo Dome City Hall were T-ARA’s eager fans who apparently had turned their love for the South Korean idol girl group into an invisible coat, enfolding and protecting them from the cold early September breeze. T-ARA Premium Live was a long-awaited event since the group’s last visit to Japan in May for their Special Fan meeting. At this show, fans were regaled with many of the group’s hit songs and were definitely taken on an emotional rollercoaster.
As soon as the door to the venue opened, fans were quick to get in and get their hands on the event’s official goods, and not long after, they began to fill the concert hall. After a little bit of waiting, the lights dimmed and a slide-show video showcasing the group’s photos, and their social media handles began playing. The slideshow came to an end, and the crowd promptly stood on their feet and held their penlights up, creating a sea of orange and blue lights across the hall. Unable to contain their excitement, everyone began shouting the members’ names. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any more magical than that, the stage lights turned back on and standing before us were T-ARA, elegantly dressed in black sailor uniforms. In that instant, the crowd screamed like there was no tomorrow, as though they were giving the girls a warm welcome-back hug.
T-ARA then proceeded to open the show with a bang by performing So Crazy. The group managed to get the crowd pumped up by teasing them with some winks and hand-waving in between their cute dance routines. As they concluded their first performance of the night, the girls decided to greet their fans in Japanese. “Se-no! Konbanwa! (Ready? Good evening!)” screamed the girls in their cute Japanese accents in unison.
After warming up the stage and greetings by the Japanese Queens, they began their Q&A corner. This Q&A is the first of 3 game corners that they had prepared to interact with their longing fans. Shown on the screen were 6 close-up pictures of each T-ARA member that acted as a roulette to decide who shall be the MC of the Q&A corner. Fans began to shout the member’s names as the computer randomly picked one of them. Finally, the roulette stopped at Soyeon’s picture, and fans began chanting her name as she walked to the MC table while giggling.
The question for this corner were given from the group’s fans online to each member separately, such as how to have an on-point makeup like Qri, or how to have a nice body like Hyomin, which became hot topics through her Nice Body solo promotion. Hyomin said because she’s busy and always moving, the movement itself equals to working out for her, thus giving her the nice body she has. Soyeon then chimed in and said, “you need to be born as Hyomin if you want to have a nice body like hers,” which brought laughter from the crowd as if they approve of Soyeon’s statement.
As people sometimes relate to different kind of animal for their characters on how strong or cute they look, one of the fans wondered what kind of animal would Jiyeon consider her spirit animal. She answered “dogs and cats,” which caused a cute bickering between Jiyeon and Eunjung who disagreed because the two animals are basically poles apart. Then later Jiyeon explained that she wanted herself to be filled with cuteness like a dog and to be spoiled like a cute little kitty.
T-ARA is one group who can give out sexy vibes yet still be able to maintain their cute image at the same time. It was proven when the last question was read by Soyeon to the other T-ARA members. They were asked to do aegyo A.K.A. the act of being cute to ask for an apology when one came late to an appointment. Starting from Qri, shyly asking for forgiveness, then Boram with her realistic apology. Other members were unsatisfied with her aegyo because that was just what she always does, but the fans were simply crazy about her adorable apology.
Fans were expecting a sexy yet cute apology from Hyomin, and she tried her best by acting cute while moving her shoulders up and down, and sobbing a little. The youngest of the six, Jiyeon, gave the fans a real treat when she showed them her aegyo, proving who the real maknae (youngest) of the group is. The last one was Eunjung who wrapped the corner with her saying “gomennasai, watashitachi chu~ agemasu” (I’m sorry, we will give you a peck on the cheek later) which brought a loud cheers from the fans.
After one corner filled with heart-to-heart questions and answers, the next one was O or X corner. Members who answer correctly would be given a refreshing drink. Qri and Jiyeon both answered the question right, while Boram, Soyeon and Eunjung got it wrong so they were being punished by having to drink a type of sour drink. The co-MC from the staff said that it’s a special Japanese drink that is good for the body, but the three girls expressed a clear distaste on their faces the moment they took a sip from the cup.
The third and fourth corner were the polaroid and merchandise corner respectively. A total of 12 fans were picked randomly using a box filled with seats number; 6 lucky fans had the chance to take polaroid pictures with the members while the remaining got a special souvenir of signed poster or signed bags, all personally signed on stage. What a way to tease the rest of the crowd who didn’t get picked, girls! One of the fans who were lucky to win a merchandise expressed how she was a huge fan of the group and how she just couldn’t repress her overflowing emotions which by then, had turned into tears falling down her happy face. The girls were very moved to see such a devoted fan and quickly gave her hugs to comfort her.
As the last corner came to an end, the members went to the backstage to prepare for their next performance. After an hour long of fun, interactive corners, T-ARA is back to the stage bringing their ORGR (Oh Ready Get Ready) from their 2014’s EPs release, And & End album. Afterwards, the group gave a powerful performance of Sugar Free, which they have never performed live in Japan before, despite peaking at number four on the Billboard World Digital Songs, making it arguably one of the group’s most popular songs. The neon blue-pink lightings which amplified the EDM atmosphere in the hall, paired with the girls’ adorable yet energetic moves, really sent the crowd’s spirit skyrocketing. Seemingly wanting to toy with the crowd’s emotion even further, Jiyeon kept making charming expressions on her face whilst slaying the dance routine. The group then continued by performing Bunny Style, in the middle of which, the group began throwing balls that have been signed randomly at the crowds to get the crowd even more hyped up. One person from the crowd even gave a cute white doll to the group by throwing it to the stage mid-performance. Next, the group performed Target, bringing the crowd’s adrenaline level to the climax. The group’s sexy pistol hand gesture and provocative hip movements really brought the crowd on cloud nine who enthusiastically shouted back when prompted by the girls to do so. Next in line, the group brought the house down with Kioku: Kimi ga Kureta Michishirube (Memories: You Gave Me Guidance), which compared to the previous upbeat numbers, is a real tear-jerker. Everyone could see that the girls really performed this piece from their hearts and because this piece is performed in Japanese, I am personally sure that the crowd could really connect with their idols during this particular number. This ballad piece was supposed to be the last song on this show, but the girls thought it would have left a sad feeling in the hearts of their fans if the show ended with this emotional number, so they gave one last performance from the group’s 2011 EP John Travolta Wannabe, Roly-Poly, which was the highest-selling digital single of 2011 in South Korea. The girls kept on teasing the crowd with their sexy hip moves as they did during the previous numbers, and got the crowd who didn’t seem to be exhausted at all, screaming and waving their penlights which were in sync with the upbeat rhythm of the number.
As the show drew to an end, the girls sent their last goodbyes to the crowd, thanking them for coming, and promising them that the group would work hard so they can see their fans in Japan again in the future. It was evident that it was painful for the fans to see the girls go and the curtain go down, just as it was painful for the girls to leave their fans. Through T- ARA Premium Live, I personally think the Japanese Queens could learn more about T-ARA’s each member’s quirky and interesting personality. On top of that, this show was not just about enjoying T-ARA’s energetic performance. It was also about strengthening the bond between the girls and their loving fans by exchanging laughter, screams, as well as tears.
May T-ARA continue to prosper as a group, and may the love shared between the group and their fans continue to grow fonder with time.
Article by: Adrian & Febriani