I know it seems kinda silly to be writing about a fanmeet that took place almost a month ago but couldn’t let this evening with SHINee go by without saying something. It was one of those evenings that seems almost too amazing to be real and well, I’m kinda writing this more as proof to myself that the evening actually happened, than anything else.
Nothing about the day SHINee performed in Chicago was normal for me. I spent the entire day running around like a headless zombie, frantically trying to get the million things done that I needed to before leaving for Mexico and deal with the nerves that inevitably rattled me as I tried to wrap my head around the fact I was going to be interviewing SHINee in only a handful of hours. Because, believe it or not, no matter how long you work in a profession, there are always nerves when you’re facing something as monumental as an interview with one of the most beloved groups in K-Pop history.
How I got the interview is still a mystery to me. I just woke up on a normal Thursday morning, went to work as usual, checked my email as usual, and low and behold, there was an email waiting for me that told me, not only did I get to cover the fanmeet but I was also approved to interview the group. Just thinking about that email makes me feel ridiculously flustered. It was such an unexpected shock I still haven’t fully processed it. Still, I managed to swallow my nerves and get to work and before I knew it, my questions had been written, approved, and I was on my way down to the city to sit and chat with SHINee. (Oh jeeze! The nerves! I can still feel them! Pardon me… I think I’m going to be sick!)
If it hadn’t been for the fact that I had two wonderfully amazing friends in the car with me as I drove to the Rosemont Theater, I never would have made it, at least not in one piece. Their company and conversation kept me from dwelling too much on the inevitable interview which was a literal lifesaver. Oh! Nothing in all the world is better for calming the nerves than a couple of good friends!
Once at the theater, we had to part ways as members of the press with interviews (there were 2 of us) were ushered inside while the rest had to wait until closer to showtime. The hustle and bustle prior to an interview is always a bit nerve-wracking as everything has to be “just so.” Nothing is done without the approval of about 20 million different people and the stress involved in making sure everything meets with everyone’s standards can be a bit overwhelming. Add to that the fact that working alongside people whose outlets are so much bigger than yours makes you as a person, feel small and insignificant, and you can see why there was a whole lot going on in my brain than just a jumbled mess of excitement and nerves.
As small and ridiculous as I felt, everything just kind of melted away as the members of SHINee walked into the room. I’d like to say that it was their glowing presence that brought a sudden calm to my inner storm but in reality, it was simply the fact that once they walked into the room, everyone got straight to work. The first interview started almost immediately and before I knew it, it was my turn to step up and ask my questions. (Oh help!) How I managed to stand there and ask my questions without passing out or puking on their shoes is beyond me. I was so nervous I wanted to die, but somehow (miraculously) I survived. Even better, I somehow managed to make the boys laugh (totally by accident) which makes me think they might have enjoyed themselves… At least a little. (Hey, a zombie can dream, can’t she?)
After the interview, I kinda just floated through the evening. Or at least I wanted to. But my work was far from over and with little time to spare, I found myself booking to the press area where I got to fight for a good spot to take pics of the show. (Well, for the first few moments of the evening anyway.)
I have to say, watching SHINee step out onto the stage was very surreal for me. I couldn’t believe I’d been in the same room, talking and laughing with them just 15 minutes prior and yet there they were, decked out in their dashing costumes, pouring their heart and soul into a performance that took my breath away. Needless to say, I was in awe. Opening the show with “Everybody,” SHINee had everyone in the theater on their feet, waving light sticks and balloons to the beat as we all sang along.
A quick costume change later, the boys were back to formally introduce themselves and take a little time to tell their adoring fans just how happy they were to be able to spend this evening with their fans. The roar of the crowd in response left no doubt that SHAWOLs from all over the world were happy to be a part of SHINee’s very first fanmeeting in the U.S. To fully express their love for SHINee, fans from around the world had submitted videos of love, gratitude, encouragement and well-wishes for SHINee to the evening’s coordinator, SubKulture Enternainment, who had compiled them into a rather touching video. Moved by the love of their fans, SHINee wasted no time in returning that love, thanking their faithful fans for all the love and support they’d received over the years.
With the crowd cheering in response, SHINee was up and on their feet, jumping into a performance of “Hello” that once again, got the entire audience up and dancing as they happily sang along.
From there the boys settled themselves in for a little Q&A time, during which the members graciously answered a handful of questions which had been collected from the fans, prior to the show. With the questions answered, it was time for a little fan interaction. Twenty lucky fans were escorted on-stage and then divided into groups of 4. Each group was assigned a number and each member of SHINee was told to blindly draw a number from a box, to determine which member would be a part of each group. With the groups set, an intense game of charades followed, with the boys acting out various animals, objects, occupations, movies and instruments while their teammates tried to guess what it was their actor was trying to convey. It was a very close match, with only 3 points standing between the winning team (Taemin’s) and the losing (Minho and Onew’s). As punishment for losing both Minho and Onew were forced to demonstrate their aegyo while Key, Taemin and Jonghyun plopped down on the floor of the stage to watch. It was supposed to be a 2-minute punishment but mere seconds into the act Onew and Minho had the entire audience, and their fellow members, rolling with laughter. Needless to say, no one ever made it to the 2-minute mark but watching Onew and Minho try to win over the heart of their angry “girlfriends” with their cuteness will be something no one in that audience will ever forget.
With the games over, it was time for SHINee to make a quick costume change while we, the audience, were left to enjoy a montage of video clips filmed during last year’s SHINee World Tour. Back in a flash, the boys hit the stage with a 3-song set that included fan favorites, “Replay,” “Lucifer” and “Sherlock.”
A behind-the-scenes video shot during the making of SHINee’s “View” MV was the final video of the evening and made the perfect segue into the group’s final performance which was, of course, “View.” Oh! I wish I could tell you how amazing it was to see SHINee perform in person! They are so beyond incredible, I’m at a loss of words to describe them. (Which really sucks, considering I call myself a writer!) All I can say is, they are stunning.
With the performance over there was nothing left for SHINee to do but say their farewells. With smiles and waves, well wishes and endless expressions of gratitude, SHINee lingered on-stage as long as possible, basking in the overwhelming flood of love that was poured out by their fans. With final waves a promise to someday return, SHINee slowly made their way off-stage, leaving the rest of us standing in the audience, breathless, as we tried to comprehend everything we had just experienced.
To say that night was one I’ll never forget sounds so cliché but it’s the truth. There were so many memories made, not just with SHINee but with so many wonderful friends, from both near and far, as well, it’s impossible for me to forget such an evening. It was truly a night to remember.
Oh! Before I forget… If you’re curious about the interview I mentioned earlier, you can find it HERE. (I still can’t believe that really happened. I don’t think I ever will!)