My friend Veronica pointed out the night before the NCT Dream concert in Chicago that there was a full moon, that maybe the effects would extend to Friday and bring me good vibes at the concert. Well, I think she was on to something because it was sincerely, without coming off as being hyperbolic or corny, one of THE best concert experiences of my life. And I have been to a lot of concerts of all types and sizes!
In this post, let’s talk about the pre-show haps. You already know what my ‘fit looked like UNLESS YOU DON’T READ THIS DUMP REGULARLY.
Our hotel was right across the street from the Allstate Arena so that was extremely convenient. When we first drove past the arena earlier that day to get to the hotel, there was a HUGE line already formed. That’s the one main reason I opted out of getting a GA floor ticket – it actually cost about the same as the seat I ended up scoring, but it was standing room only (some Kpop concerts have seats on the floor). I’m of the age where my time is valuable and my endurance for ‘camping’ outside of an arena is at an all-time low. To be quite frank, I would not even do this for The Cure. I just want to be able to see the stage comfortably and while the prospect of being barricade is tempting because YES, I WANT EYE CONTACT WITH IDOLS, I can admit that this season of my life has passed. But I will still scream and cry and freak out over whose poca (photo card) I pull from albums! DONT GET ME WRONG.
That being said, we didn’t leave the hotel until around 6:30, I would say, almost died jaywalking (there was no crosswalks at the intersections!?) and reached a side of the arena that had two entrances. I was really confused because as we were approaching the arena straight on, I could see a huge-ass line of NCTzens snaking all the way from the second entrance, down the length of the arena, into the parking lot. Yet, there were some stragglers approaching from the left and going right through the first door.
“Is that like, a VIP entrance?” I asked mostly just to myself because tf does Henry know, right? There were two girls who had been walking in front of us and I could tell that they were also debating what to do – cross the street and attempt to go straight into the first door, or walk all the way to end of the line waiting to enter the second door.
LOOK, I AM TRYING TO GET THIS POST WRITTEN AND DID NOT WANT TO WASTE COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF TIME MAKING A NICE DRAWING SO PLEASE ACCEPT THIS SCRIBBLED DIAGRAM.
Just then, a security member came out of the first door and shouted, “FOLKS, THIS DOOR IS OPEN, THERE IS NO LINE. THIS DOOR IS OPEN.” So I was like, “Shit, run!” and we (well, I) ran across the road and pretty much STRAIGHT through the door since neither of us had bags that needed to be searched.
Was it a dick move considering many of those people had been camping all day? I mean, maybe, but we weren’t GA/floor so it’s not like we were taking someone’s spot, and there were people coming in from the parking lot on the left who were strolling right on in too. It’s not our fault that the arena didn’t do a better job directing people!
So we got lucky and this ended up being one of the seamless concert entrances we’ve experienced.
The best part was that the first merch table we approached only had about 20 people in line, so we slid right up on that.
The line was made up of a few roped-off switchbacks, and there was a girl two rows ahead of me who opened her tote bag and called out, “Anyone want any freebies?” Of course everyone near her happily reached into the bag but I was a bit too far away, so I had to yell, and I DO MEAN HOLLER, “Ooh, can I have one?!”
“Oh my god,” Henry murmured in the key of Bob’s Burger.
I had to reach over two lines to grab one of the tiny envelopes in her bag, literally making the line in between us come to a halt lest they get clotheslined on my arm.
But I got a Haechan poca out of it!
“You’re so embarrassing,” Henry sighed.
Yo, I can’t help it – as soon as I’m at a kpop concert, my inner Erin comes out, like I AM FREE TO BE ME. I am super talkative, sociable, and a complete extrovert like I used to be so long ago before the real world crushed my soul into a pulp of jaded anxiety.
The merch line went extremely fast. I knew immediately which shirt I wanted, and when the (mildly-flustered) merch lady went to ring it up, she paused and said, “Oh wait—” and reached under the counter. She then placed a small black envelope on top of the shirt. Apparently, merch purchases came with a poca! (I found out later that it was specifically the t-shirts.) This was a pleasant surprise! Of course, I found out later that it created a huge debacle because fans began to expect a poca with every item purchased, and then some of the merch tables ran out of pocas before the end of the night.
You don’t understand – collecting poca is a huge part of the Kpop scene. It’s not that important for me, which is literally the ONLY indication that I am an Elder in this scene. But I can promise you, if I was younger, I would probably be charging hundres of dollars worth of kpop albums to my mom’s AmEx, trying to collect every single poca.
To make it very simple, each kpop album comes with a random poca (photo card) of one of the members. It’s usually a selfie that they took, and then the backs have a handwritten message on them. They’re about credit card-sized, and you can even but little albums to store them in, or photo card holders to hook onto your backpack, keychain, belt loop, etc. (Yes, I have one lol. I was also using it for my work ID too, so it always looked like I was buzzing myself in with a picture of Renjun, lol.) Anyway!! Super fans will buy multiple copies of the same album trying to get the poca of their bias, or to just collect one of each member, and there are trading communities out there too. It’s a whole thing, you guys. When I say you don’t just get into Kpop on a casual basis….
By the time we got out of the merch line and started exploring the rest of the arena, the lines for every single merch table had grown so long that it had become difficult to walk. The lines spilled out into the main hallways and it was so chaotic.
I wanted to find my seat, just to get a lay of the land before the show started. I found my section, but Henry wasn’t able to actually go any further than the curtain, as it was being guarded by a STRICT older woman usher. She was not letting a single soul slip past on her watch. I showed her my ticket and she told me to go all the way down to the bottom-most row and turn left. I knew that AA was the first row so I admittedly didn’t listen very hard to the rest of her instructions. I went down to the first row and was immediately rattled because the last seat in that row was 11, and I was 12?? How could that be? Directly above seat 11 was a seat 12, but that was row BB so I was super confused and now my heart rate was up a bit. I really do not trust TicketMaster or the venues anymore so I really was thinking that I somehow had purchased, for $500+, a seat that didn’t exist
So, I went back to the usher lady and said I couldn’t find a seat 12 in the first row, and she once again reiterated her directions and I, once again, went down to row AA and couldn’t make this invisible seat 12 magically appear. Now I was just in the way of people trying to have their pictures taken with the stage behind them, so I sulked back up the steps, like, “OK great there is no seat there for me so I guess I will just spend the show crying in a garbage can instead.”
At this point, Henry (who kept telling me to CALM DOWN, and NOT TO WORRY ABOUT IT) wanted to use the bathroom before we went to find our respective seats. We just kept walking and walking, passing one women’s room after the next. Finally, Henry stopped to ask a male employee where the closest men’s room was.
“Alllllll the way down that way,” the guy said, motioning with his arm. “There are only two men’s rooms for tonight,” he laughed and we thought he was joking but it was true! Knowing that the majority of the night’s attendees would be women, the arena had turned most of the men’s rooms into women’s room, lol. We had to fight our way downstream, cutting through the unruly merch lines, for idiot Henry to find a damn bathroom.
After peeing in one of the two designated men’s rooms, maybe even christening it, Henry offered to find my seat because I am a lost sheep that needs to be herded. I gave him my phone so he could pretend that it was actually his seat and as the same usher gave him the same directions she gave me, I realized my fatal error: she had said “to the left,” and I, both times, WENT TO THE RIGHT. Literally, I was trying to give myself a worse seat than the one I actually had, by trying to will a seat to appear for me in a section farther from the stage.
What is my problem!? We will talk about my seat in a little bit because when Henry returned with an irritated smirk on his face (“Thanks, I had to make a bunch of people move because your seat is all the on the other side of that row”), I decided that I would just go to my seat closer to the start time of the concert, now that this usher was probably like, “are these two old heads trying to pull one over on me, or?”
Because these fucking concerts are so stupidly expensive, Henry and I can’t afford to sit next to each other because puchasing two seats at once would bankrupt us. OK, that’s being dramatic, but the fact is that while I can justify the cost of a ticket for myself because I am a Never-aging Fan Girl, Henry is content being there, but you know, with the cheapest ticket available. The day of the show, he bought a $60 seat in the upper level (and then proceeded to complain later when people in front of him stood, which prompted the same argument of “THAT IS WHAT YOU DO AT A CONCERT.” When I tell you that I wanted SO BADLY to stand during Genesis, but everyone else in our row was seated and there was a wall of elderly people behind us so I stayed in my seat….Ugh. I hate thinking about it. I was really glad to have had the opportunity to see Genesis, but it was a bit too calm for me.
Anyway, here are some pictures of Henry finding his seat. He had the WRONG SEAT at first, but go on Henry, make fun of me for my inability to follow directions and mentally map out the route to my own seat.
Henry in the Correct Section.
And lookie, there appear to be two dads down there! Henry was very happy to have scored himself an aisle seat. It’s really all he wants when it comes to concerts. Anyway, wow, now that I’m looking at this, upper level at this arena was not so bad!
Next, Henry wanted to buy a BEER. I didn’t think to ask him at that time, but this morning, my friend Alyson asked what kind of beer Henry got. Alyson always asks the important questions! I had to go into the basement to ask him (no, I don’t keep him in a cell down there, he was actually doing work on the Seoul Subway Sign v.2, so yeah, I guess he’s basically imprisoned). He said he got a COORS LIGHT because it was the only beer option. I do know that they were also selling Vizzy (I mean, duh, you can see that in the picture) and that one can cost $22!!! Maybe even $25?? I can’t remember now, but the girl who was sitting to my left had one and she told me how much it cost and I actually felt sick. Then she motioned that she was going to set down in front of her (we had a little wall in front of us so it wasn’t going to topple off of our row and onto the floor or anything, but I was still very protective of and it watched it like a hawk anytime we had to move to let people in or out of our row. I was like Vizzy security.
I was standing behind Henry when he was purchasing his beer (which came in commemorative Allstate Arena cup, wow) and heard the beer-pourer ask, “You here for your daughter?” and Henry said, “No, my wife” which is always so annoying because SWEETHEART you have not earned the privilege to call me your wife?? I leaned forward and yelled, “DON’T LIE!” and the beer-man laughed and then asked him, “Do you listen to this music?” and Henry said YES.
I took this picture after I got to my seat. The concert hadn’t started yet, but they always play MVs beforehand and then everyone screams like the members are actually on the stage, lol. I was so happy with this seat! The lady in red was the staff member guarding the entrance to the floor area which was directly on the other side of my seat. I was so close to the floor that my row (AA) had folding seats as opposed to the regular floor-mounted seats that the other sections had. I had a perfect view of the main stage, but the reason why I chose a section farther away from the main stage was because I knew there would be an extended stage, and that is what I wanted to be closer to. The end of that portion of the stage is right next to the head of that super tall blond girl in the sheer white shirt. It was almost as good as being on the floor as far as proximity to NCT Dream went, but way more comfortable because I was in a row with seats and while of course none of us sat through the concert, we didn’t have to worry about being crushed or having to strain to see past the people in front of us. And the crowd on the floor pretty stayed where they were too, it never expanded to where there people right in front of us, leaning against the sideboard like that striped-shirt person is doing up there. I was nervous about that, but wow, what excellent fortune I had with this seat! I was so worried that I chose poorly!
OK, I think this is all that I wanted to memorialize. In my next post, we will discuss THE CONCERT. Assuming I have returned to earth by then.