k-pop

Asian leg of ITZY’s ‘CHECKMATE’ tour off to ‘amazing start’ with Manila show

Russell Ku
Asian leg of ITZY’s ‘CHECKMATE’ tour off to ‘amazing start’ with Manila show

FLY HIGH. ITZY kicks off the Asian leg of the 'CHECKMATE' world tour with a concert at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on January 14 and 15, 2023.

ITZY's Twitter page

After waiting for more than three years, ITZY made new memories with Filipino MIDZYs at their biggest venue yet

MANILA, Philippines – “Icy but I’m on fire” may just be a line from ITZY’s sophomore title track “ICY,” but it also defines how the K-pop girl group became leaders of the fourth generation through the members’ powerful performance and cool attitude.

ITZY continued to show that persona to Filipino MIDZYs as the group became one of the first K-pop acts to perform in the Philippines this year, bringing their CHECKMATE world tour to the Mall of Asia Arena on January 14 and 15.

Member Lia said that the Manila stop was an “amazing start” to the Asian leg of the tour. The group had brought the CHECKMATE tour to Seoul and the United States before coming to the Philippines. Concert promoter Live Nation Philippines had added the January 15 show after tickets sold out for ITZY’s initial January 14 concert.

“Having a solo concert [has] always been our dream so we put more into this concert than ever before to achieve our dream and prepared new performances that our MIDZYs would like to see,” member Chaeryeong added.

@rappler Check out #rappler #fancam of #ITZY ‘s CHECKMATE tour in #manila! #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #kpop #itzy_checkmate_manila #itzyofficial #tiktokph ♬ original sound – Rappler

Before the show, ITZY also witnessed deafening cheers from MIDZYs at their press event on January 13.

ITZY started the concert with a bang with “Mafia in the morning,” followed by “Sorry Not Sorry,” “SHOOT!” “365,” and “What I Want.” 

ITZY also greeted MIDZYs in Filipino, drawing cheers from the concert crowd. The group also used English for most of the show to communicate with fans. 

Leader Yeji was impressed by Filipino MIDZYs, saying that when she was supposed to ask them to stand up, they were already standing for the next set of songs.

ITZY followed the opening set with “Cherry,” “ICY,” “Free Fall,” and their viral B-side track “#Twenty.” 

Filipino MIDZYs chanted and sang their hearts out as ITZY saved their most famous and energetic hits, such as their debut song “Dalla Dalla,” “Wannabe,” and “Sneakers,” for the second half of the show. 

Lia and Ryujin admitted that this part of the show was “difficult,” as they had to put a lot of energy into their performances. But their struggles didn’t show as the group gave precise, synchronized, and impactful moves throughout the concert. 

The members also shared that the weather in Manila at that time was “very nice” as it helped keep their throat conditions in tip-top shape for the concert. 

In between group performances, the ITZY members presented solo stages, covering songs that highlighted the members’ distinct flavors and personalities.

MIDZYs witnessed Lia’s passionate rendition of “Red,” Ryujin’s charismatic performance of “Boss Bitch,” Yuna’s bubbly cover of “Maniac,” Chaeryeong’s sexy interpretation of “bloodline,” and Yeji’s attractive version of “Hotter Than Hell.”

Yuna said she was thankful for the cheering from MIDZYs as she would tend to feel “awkward” when performing her solo stage. 

After ITZY performed all of their solo performances, the group finally performed their latest single “Cheshire” for the first time on tour, donning new denim outfits. The outfits were a change from their preppy attire worn during the same part of their US concerts. 

As ITZY moved towards the end of their official set with title tracks “LOCO” and “Not Shy,” Filipino MIDZYs said, “Walang uuwi (No one is going home)” as the members challenged them to mission challenges for their encore stage.

After MIDZYs completed the missions, ITZY sang “Domino,” fan-dedicated song “Trust Me (MIDZY),” their English single “Boys Like You,” and “Nobody Like You.” 

As the show came to a close, the ITZY members thanked Filipino MIDZYs for waiting for more than three years to see them live once more. 

“I always see Filipino MIDZYs in [our] video calls and they always wanted us to come in [the] Philippines so bad and now we finally [came]. Sorry [if] it [took] a little long time, but thank you for greeting us like this,” Ryujin said. 

“I think after COVID and with more chances like this [in] actually getting to meet our MIDZYs, that kind of motivated me more to have more greed and passion,” Lia added. 

Moved to tears

Filipino MIDZYs pulled out all the stops to make the Manila show an emotional experience for them and for ITZY. 

A group of fans called the #ITZYinMANILA Fan Union, also known as the Filo MIDZY Alliance, prepared several projects to show how the group would forever be etched on their hearts.

“If we truly want to make their stay here in the Philippines memorable, we will go to any lengths to make that happen. We won’t really think about the difficulties; we’ll just get things done,” said Kai, one of the admins of Filo MIDZY Alliance.

Aside from having to gather resources and approval from JYP Entertainment and Live Nation Philippines, the admins told Rappler that their “toughest challenge” was having to balance these duties with their everyday tasks.

On the second day of the concert, the group prepared a surprise video for ITZY which showed their journey from their debut during their encore set, moving the members to tears. 

“I was able to realize that all our efforts and hard work that we have poured so all of these fans could gather to see us today, I really thought that it’s all worth it,” Yeji said in Korean.

Star, the video editor for the project, told Rappler that she was “literally [on] cloud nine” and was thankful for how ITZY reacted to her work. She was not able to make it to the concert as she is based in the United States. 

Chaeryeong, fighting back tears, expressed how the Manila stop reminded her of the reason why she is a performer today. It was also at that point when she noticed a banner that FMA made along the upper box section which read: “Beyond the spring, summer, fall, winter seasons. Until the moment, we meet again.”

“Being in a place filled with MIDZYs only and listening to all of your cheers and chants for us, I was really really happy,” she added. 

ITZY’s reactions also touched the hearts of the FMA admins. “No words can truly summarize how we feel…. If given another shot, I’d do it all over again,” Zippy said.

As confetti flew around the Mall of Asia Arena during the show’s closing moments, ITZY and MIDZY gathered their hands (and light rings) together to chant “ITZY, MIDZY, Nalja (fly high)” as a promise for both the group and Filipino fans to keep working hard to achieve their dreams.

“MIDZY, mahalaga kayo sa amin. Kita tayo ulit, Manila (MIDZY, you are important to us. Let’s see each other again, Manila),” the group said in a tweet. – Rappler.com

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Russell Ku

Russell Ku is a digital communications specialist at Rappler, believing in the power of stories to build an empathic society. Outside of work, he dives deep into pop culture, especially the world of K-Pop.