I can’t believe it’s already been a week since I experienced one of the most exciting, nerve-wracking and incredible experiences of my life as Teen Top took to the stage of the Copernicus Center in Chicago and I fell over dead. Okay, not all the way dead. Just mostly dead. Dead-ish, if you will. And well, I may never be the same again. (Though maybe that’s a good thing…)
Now to give an evening such a title is kinda saying a lot, considering I’ve experienced more than my fair share of memorable moments over the past *cough cough* years. However when you get to make a professional (and personal) dream come true and at the same time enjoy a fantastic concert, it’s not really much of an exaggeration to call such an evening amazing. The funny thing was, last Tuesday started off as normal as any other day. I got up, got the tiny zombies up, ready and off to school, went to work, washed a mountain of dishes, made supper for my horde, and then got myself ready for an evening of Teen Top fun. It all sounds very much like any other concert day routine at my house and normally, none of this would be a big deal. But last week, things were different. Why? Well, I’m glad you asked!
You see, I didn’t just go to this concert for the fun of it, I went to help out a very good friend of mine who asked me if I’d mind helping her out with an interview with Teen Top. Obviously I said, “yes.” (Or, to be more accurate, it was probably more along the lines of: “OH HECK YES!”) And though I know I should be calm and cool about this and play it off like it’s no big deal, the fact that I finally got to interview an idol group (after so many promised interviews that somehow always managed to fall apart at the last second), was an amazing dream come true for me and well, I really can’t play something that epically awesome off as just another day in the life of a zombie.
Of course I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging either because, believe me. I’m not. I’m just still really struggling with how to deal with all the emotions that came with such a momentous evening and the only way to deal with so many at once is to vent them. So here I am. To say I was calm at all on Tuesday would be a lie. To say I wasn’t so nervous I was on the verge of puking would also be a lie. To say I was in any way, shape or form, calm as my three fellow interviewers and I sat in that tiny little room, waiting with scarce breath and shaking hands, for Teen Top to magically appear from behind that closed door and fill the six empty seats that took up 90% of the room, would be another lie. To say anything other than I was a nervous wreck would be the most enormous lie because I was a mess. We all were. Because let’s face it, it’s not every day you get to sit down and talk with Teen Top (or any idol for that matter).
But before the interview there was the hour-long drive down to the city, which was filled with excited chatter and endless K-Pop. There was the usual confused scramble to figure out where we were supposed to check in, where we were supposed to gather and who we were supposed to meet to make this night of awesome happen. As always, there was a lot of “I have no idea what’s going on” but meeting up with fellow press friends always make the confusion more fun. There were four of us covering the concert that night: my friend, another press buddy of mine, her colleague, and myself, and we had a lot of fun catching up on all the stuff we’d been up to since the last concert we’d covered together. Of course we were all nervous about our impending interviews which meant we spent a lot of time trying to help each other calm down (which didn’t help at all) and a lot of time trying to convince ourselves that this interview would fall through like so many others had before. (Which also didn’t help because who wants to relive all that pain?)
After who knows how long, we finally managed to find our contact for the evening and with nothing more than a hurried, “Follow me,” we were whisked away from the milling lobby crowd and into the empty auditorium. Walking faster than any of us had ever walked before, we were led to an empty row of seats and told to stay put until after the sound check.
Yeah, that’s exactly the reaction the four of us had when we realized we were going to get to sit in on Teen Top’s sound check. I believe, “No friggin’ way!” was the general sentiment at that particular moment. You see, the thing you have to understand about covering a concert as a member of the American press is, more often than not you’re just kinda shoved to the side (or the back) and told to make due. It’s certainly not a glamorous job and definitely not one to take if you’re looking for front row seats and an unforgettable experience. However, every once in a while you get lucky and that night, we were. Of course we weren’t the only lucky ones. Every Angel who paid the big bucks was equally lucky as they all got to sit in on the sound check as well, but to be invited to be a part of that was pretty darn awesome and I will forever be grateful to those who made this once in a lifetime moment possible for us poor, lowly press peeps. (Did I really just use the word “peeps?” *smh*)
Watching Teen Top walk out onto a dimly lit stage in their street clothes, to sing a song and answer a couple of questions from the fans kinda make the whole interview thing a bit more real. As in a lot real. As in OH HOLY CRAP I’M GONNA PUKE real. Yeah, all those nerves that had been toying with me all day suddenly kicked into overdrive and OH CRAP! Part of me wanted to run away. Part of me wanted to squeal. Part of me wanted to pass out. Part of me wanted to laugh. Part of me wanted to cry. There were a whole lot of emotions happening at once and I just… I just… I couldn’t, okay? I just couldn’t!
Of course I didn’t have any choice but to find a way to deal with all these emotions and nerves so I tried to focus on Teen Top and forget everything else but that totally didn’t work. Focusing on them just made me think about how I was going to have to speak to them in a matter of minutes and well… Let’s just say I spent a lot of time wondering if I weren’t stuck in some crazy dream. (Because I’ve been known to dream about Teen Top though not in fun ways… More like terrifying, watch Chunji be turned into cake while Niel is hunted by murderous shadow monster ways… Yeah… Don’t ask. My mind is a horrible place to be trapped in every night.)
After the sound check, the boys disappeared into the dark and our press contact/guide suddenly appeared out of nowhere and ushered us quickly backstage, up a flight of narrow, echo-y stairs, and into an odd triangle-shaped dressing room where we were left to set up for our interviews. Alone. Talk about nerves gone wild! There’s nothing like waiting in an empty dressing room, with three equally nervous friends, with nothing but our imaginations and raging emotions to keep us company. I swear those minutes spent waiting were the longest minutes of my entire life.
I wish I could describe to you what it was like to hear the footsteps of Teen Top echo through the empty stairwell… Or how adorable it was to hear one of them giggle as they approached the door… Or how all the oxygen seemed to leave the room as they made their entrance… Seriously, when you stand in the presence of perfection, it’s so hard to breathe!
But there they were, all six of them, filing into the room with bright eyes and warm smiles and hearty hellos. Somehow I managed to return their greetings, in Korean, no less. (Don’t ask me how I managed to remember any Korean when my brain was refusing to carry out even the most basic functions like, you know, breathing. It’s just one of life’s small miracles, I suppose.) I really hope I remembered to smile and didn’t just look like a terrified idiot, bowing as I gave my timid greetings. Ugh! (The nerves were real I tell you! REAL!) Whether I smiled or not, the boys did, a lot, which made me feel a bit better but also not better at all because… HOLY BUCKETS! Those smiles are breath-taking!
As stunned as I was by Teen Top’s presence as they entered the room, I was even more stunned when Changjo sat down right beside me. Now, I have to explain for anyone who may be freaking out right now because it’s not like he chose to sit down next to me. We were in a very small dressing room for this interview and half of it was taken up by giant mirrors and counters because, uh, it’s a dressing room, not a conference room. (If you watch the Teen Top On Air episode they uploaded on April 7, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the room was like.) All of the empty space in the room was taken up by a small love-seat squashed into one corner, six chairs set up in a row beside that love-seat, and two chairs set up directly across from those six empty chairs. There was maybe 4 feet of empty space between the interviewer’s chairs and Teen Top’s and that’s it. To say there was a lot of extra room, once all 13 of us were settled in, would be ridiculous. You couldn’t have squeezed another person inside if you’d tried. Well, maybe they could have moved out the trash can and fit in another person but that’s beside the point. The point is, there was no place else for Teen Top to go but those six chairs so Changjo didn’t really have a choice when he sat down next to me. That was his seat and I was the one who just happened to be sitting on the end of the love-seat next to him. (Lucky me!)
You have no idea how hard it was for me to breathe as the first pair of interviewers started in on their questions. I was so overwhelmed by the fact I was sitting next to flippin’ Changjo I thought I was going to pass out. All I can remember thinking was, “Oh, I hope I wore enough deodorant!” Because, yes, I am totally lame. I also remembered thinking I’d better not move because I might accidentally bump into him and die so I just sat there. Holding my breath. Praying I wouldn’t pass out before it was our turn to ask our questions.
Way before either of us were ready, it really was out turn to take the hot seats and OH MY DEAR SWEET BABY FLYING MONKEYS! I thought I was nervous before… Honey, that was nothing compared to what it was like to sit down right in front of Teen Top and actually speak. Now, if you know me at all, you now that my brain tends to shut down when I’m in the presence of idols. It’s happened more times than I can count and I’m sure it will happen again so how the heck I managed to ask our questions is beyond me. I will admit that it took me a second to de-confuzzle my brain and at one point I really did just want to die. But somehow my zombie brain decided not to fail me completely and I was able to get through the interview without making a total fool out of myself. Or maybe I should say I was able to ask the questions without dying. Because I’m pretty sure my hands were shaking so bad the boys noticed, which makes me feel like a total idiot, but there was no way in heck I could have stopped the shaking, so if they saw, I hope they don’t think too poorly of me. I mean, it has been over a decade since I last did any work with anyone even remotely famous. I’ve very out of practice and I’m very, very easily affected by gorgeous boys who make way too much eye contact and smile and goof off with each other *ahem, C.A.P* and play with their hair when they think no one is watching *cough*Ricky*cough* and be all-around beautiful, wonderful people.
Though it felt like forever, sitting there, trying not to die as I asked my questions, when I look back on it, the time went by way too fast. Each team was only allowed to ask a couple of questions and the time we got to spend with Teen Top was, in reality, very brief. Long before I was ready (and strangely, at the say time, not nearly soon enough) it was time to say farewell to Teen Top. With smiles and bows and waves and farewells, Teen Top was ushered out of the room and the four of us were left standing there, completely unsure what to make of what we’d just experienced. A general feeling of relief that we’d all survived without puking on anyone’s shoes was most prevalent and then came the rush of OH HOLY CRAP! WE JUST INTERVIEWED TEEN TOP! Let me just say, after being so worked up beforehand, the rush that came afterwards was like nothing I’d ever felt before. I was on a whole different plane of existence. A high like no other. And somehow I was supposed to go back downstairs and photograph a concert as if nothing had ever happened.
I was on such a rush of emotions, I felt as if I would never be the same again. Of course all of time we had to set up before the concert actually started was spent reliving those few magic moments with the boys. Every question, every answer, every look, every action, every smile… Everything was relived a thousand times over and then a thousand times again. I think it was the only way for us to come down off such a high. Though once the concert started and the boys took the stage, all those feelings came rushing back.
I really wish I could give you a play-by-play of the concert itself but I really can’t. So much of it is such a blur. Between the post-interview rush and the fact we were allowed to take pictures the entire concert (as opposed to the typical first 3 songs rule we’re so often given as press), I was barely able to make sense of the evening. I know the boys opened the evening with “Hot Like Fire” and I know they performed “Warning Sign” early on in the show because I remember swooning throughout the entire song as it’s my current favorite. I also know they sang “I’m Sorry” because that’s one of my all-time favorite Teen Top songs and getting to see it live was a literal dream come true. I know they each killed their solo performances, as well as every Angel in the room.
C.A.P’s performance of Action Bronson’s “Baby Blue” was so flipping lethal. I honestly don’t know how I managed to stay upright during his solo. I seriously felt my heart stop and my knees go weak as I watched him perform. GOOD GRACIOUS! Of course I didn’t fare much better as I watched Changjo perform Crush’s “I Fancy You.” I don’t know if it was because he cast some sort of spell on me when he was sitting next to me or what but GOOD GOLLY! I found myself swooning so hard during his performance I had to sit down! Ricky and Changjo performed Crush’s “Sofa,” which was absolutely breath-taking. Seriously between the dramatic lighting and their voices… OH! It was heaven! Neil performed his solo, “Affogato,” Chunji performed Loveholic’s “Dream of a Doll” and I stood there behind my camera, trying my best not to swoon myself silly. (It didn’t work.)
At some point during the evening, Teen Top took the time to answer more questions from their fans, much to the delight of everyone in the room. One lucky fanboy even managed to get a hug from Niel. (So jelly!) I wish I’d had enough brains left to raise my hand and ask a question but at the time I felt like that would have been too selfish of me. I wanted other people to experience what it’s like to ask Teen Top questions, so I kept my hand down and just smiled and laughed as others got to enjoy a little time with the boys.
The concert ended on a fantastic high, as the boys saved a lot of their dance tracks for the end of the show. They closed things out with a multi-track set that included “So Sweet” and “Crazy” and wrapped the evening up with “Miss Right,” which was pretty much perfect as there’s nothing better than going out with a bang.
After the show was the high touch and group photos, which I wasn’t lucky enough to be part of, but my friends were and they said the boys were lovely. (As if I could ever expect them to be anything else.) I was lucky enough to be standing in the lobby of the venue when Teen Top went zipping by on their way to the fan engagements. It was just a crazy random happenstance where I was in the right place at the right time which, of course, made me totally happy. It was pretty much the perfect way to end a perfect evening.
So there you have it. My crazy zombie recount of a night I will never, ever, ever, EVER forget. I hope you can forgive my slight preoccupation with a certain interview. I really didn’t mean to get so caught up in that one moment but well, it was really hard not to. Like I said, it’s not every day you actually get to make a dream come true and all I can say, to both my amazing friend Elle, and Teen Top, is THANK YOU! There aren’t enough words in the world to express how grateful I am to you both for giving me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I am eternally grateful.
***As a side note, if you’re wondering where you can find this zombie-flustering interview, you’ll be able to find it on Aewen Radio. I’m not sure if it’s up just yet but I know it will be soon. These things do take time, you know. I’m just happy my sweet friend was kind enough to edit out my voice so you won’t have to suffer through that. All you have to do is sit there and enjoy Teen Top being adorable. Because they totally are. And those olive suits! Ooooh! I hope the video does them justice because DANG! Those suits paired so well with their skin tones! Talk about swooning! Okay, okay, I know! I need to stop now! Shutting up! Really, I am. I’m just slightly overwhelmed by Teen Top. Still. Because I am pathetic. But you already knew that.