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EXO concert review: Members’ absence filled with higher energy

  • Published : Jul 23, 2019 - 18:01
  • Updated : Jul 23, 2019 - 18:01

Stepping out of the Olympic Park Subway Station in Seoul, a rare, eye-popping scenery unfolded. In stark contrast to the grey drizzly weather, the vast square of KSPO Dome, where EXO’s fifth solo concert took place, was buzzing with thousands of fans dressed in every shade of yellow one could possibly think of. Their styles and colors varied from lemon to orange and skirts to pants, but together they created a beautiful yellow wave.

And such close-knit unity was what EXO’s “Exploration” Sunday concert was all about. Despite having three absentee bandmates -- Xiumin and D.O. are serving their compulsory military duty and Lay is in Chima for promotions -- the nearly three-hour show was a clear nod to the act’s strong bond, and also the secret behind its seven-years of longevity.


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(SM Entertainment)


After playing a universe-themed intro clip on the screen, six EXO members opened the set with dramatic “Tempo,” during which the fans’ glow sticks turned blazing red. Upping the excitement, the act drew out even bigger shrieks from the crowd by delivering three of their most intense hits, “Transformer,” “Gravity” and “Sign” in a row. There were some slight arrangements in their performance due to the smaller band size, but the act’s energy was explosive enough to fill the void. They also made sure the audience feel intimate with them by bringing the performance to the thrust stage on and off.


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There was no time for talk to keep up the frenetic momentum. Backed by the ear-splitting holler of over 15,000 fans, the set smoothly moved on to Baekhyun’s solo stage for his latest single “UN Village,” where he showcased his sleek, groovy gestures. The stage’s lighting and visual effects were also on point, especially when the singers were surrounded by fantastical white moving lights that kept changing shape while performing “24/7.” After performing “Love Shot” and “Ooh La La La,” EXO finally grabbed the mics to greet fans.

Addressing the crowds’ yellow dress code, which was a representative color for EXO’s “Exodus” album, Kai affectionately said, “You guys look so cute, like cute chicks,” while Baekhyun also chimed in and said that yellow was his favorite color. Group leader Suho went on to explain the concert’s overall theatrical theme, saying, “You guys are here at ‘exploration.’ We EXO start racing, and get carried away by the silver light that brings us to another planet. We are exploring that place, and EXO-Ls are with us.” “Just like dandelion, master of survival, I hope to see your unwavering passion today,” Chen added.


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After revisiting the act’s classics “Monster” and “Oasis,” each member had a chance to shine solo. Suho sent fans into a frenzy by ripping off his shirt and revealing his tattooed body that showed the names of all EXO members while performing sultry “Been Through,” and balladeer Chen soothed the mood by wailing through poignant “Lights Out.” Rappers Sehun and Chanyeol brought in some hip-hop vibes by unveiling their collaborative singles “What a Life” and “Closer to You” for the first time, while Kai mesmerized fans with his unruly swag with his unreleased single “Confession.”

While each stage was flawless, one of the standout elements was the group’s efforts to avoid rigidness. When performing cheery “Falling for You,” the seasoned musicians gave a brilliant twist by riding on electric scooters in pastel-tinged suits, while their stage for “Wait” saw the members playfully singing on a sofa. They also continued their efforts to connect with fans by roaming around the stage back and forth, side to side, even giving out colorfully hued balls to fans which they instantly autographed.


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Halfway through the set, Suho surprised fans by breaking the big news that EXO would drop a new album within the year after wrapping up their planned world tour.

The last moments of the set were filled with one of EXO’s most popular tunes, such as “Growl,” “Overdose” and “Call Me Baby,” as well as “Unfair,” “On the Snow” and “Smile on My Face” as encore.


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“Thank you for coming in this hot and damp weather. Upon realizing the joy of sharing my love with you guys and filling my heart back with your love, I’ve been enjoying every stage. I hope to live a pleasant life with a destiny to keep sharing love,” said Chanyeol. Baekhyun added, “We’ve been truly happy and able to keep up with this race thanks to you guys. Let’s be together for a long long time”

Having staged three concerts from July 19-21, EXO is set to hold three additional shows at the same venue from July 26-28.

By Hong Dam-young (lotus@heraldcorp.com)