SB19's Triumphant Return to Araneta is the Reunion of the Year
Updated: Sep 29, 2022
Any concert two years in the waiting is sure to be worth watching, and SB19's Dunkin' Donuts sponsored concert was no exception. Originally scheduled on March 19, 2020, "Give in to SB19" would have been the group's first performance at Araneta Coliseum. As the Big Dome filled with thousands of eager A'tin, the excitement was high. Whether at the venue or tuning in via live stream from all around the world, everyone was ready for Dunkin' Presents: SB19 Live in Araneta.
2021 POPinoy Champion Girl Group YARA opened with their cover of MayMay Entrata's anthem to self-empowerment, "Amakabogera" (I Am Unbeatable). It proved the right choice for the four champions who went through for the recognition they deserve. After a short introduction, they launched into an original rap for Dunkin, SB19, and A'tin and were met with cheer after cheer. Their next cover highlighted the happy, bright notes of "Payapa" (Peaceful) by Andrea Brillantes. It was the perfect transition from the laughter and smiles they created.
An intermission sponsored by Dunkin' and hosted by the hostess of the evening, Sabrina San Diego, gave A'tin a chance to win some merch. Three lucky fans had to guess the Dunkin Donut flavor while blindfolded. The first of four fan-interactive games for the evening, it gave the event the light-hearted feel it needed before YARA took the stage again. The girl group came back to sing their original song, "Para" (Stop). The hard-hitting rap reminded the audience why they're an up-and-coming group to watch out for. Their intricate choreography contrasted nicely with the harmonies they belted out at the song's end.
Another game, this time naming the SB19 tune, was met with cheers. The promise of winning more merch and boxes of donuts made all the fans eager to play. True to form, A'tin turned the game from a simple guessing game to a karaoke session, as each contestant took their turn with the microphone to sing along.
Matthaios with DJ Waffster was a welcome transition back to the musical performances. "Gusto Kita Makita" and its tropical/hip-hop vibe were a clear favorite. The fun, smooth rap that has become Matthaios' signature was a great interlude after the energetic games. The segue into "I Want You Back," and "Binibini" had the audience singing along. Fellow hip-hop artist Lonezo came on to give away Matthaios' OPB shirts by helping toss them into the crowd. An energetic performance of "Come Vibe with Me" and the viral "Catriona" finished his set to deafening cheers and yelled thanks to A'tin.
At long last, it was time for the P-Pop Kings to take the stage. Thunderous cheers erupted as the lights dimmed for SB19's first set. The comparison of a blue ocean has never been more appropriate than it was at that moment. When the stage lights went up, Josh was center stage, leading off the modified choreography of a medley of two of their oldest songs, "Love Goes" and "Go Up ."Originally from their 2020 YouTube FanFest performance, the arrangement hasn't been performed since their Global Live concert in December of 2020. It was a refreshing kickback to two of SB19's oldest songs.
SB19 took the chance to welcome A'tin to the concert and gave their iconic greeting, "This is our zone, break! Hi, we are, SB19!" Next came a shout-out to the A'tin "Teams:" Team Live, Team Labas (the fans waiting outside The Big Dome), and Team Online. It would not have been complete without Stell teasing the fans about "being hopia" (an A'tin term about not getting noticed by any member of SB19 on social media) and singing this key verse of SLMT to them. And no performance can be complete without the roll call of the stan houses (the groups of fans who are biased toward each group member).
Was Alab (Burning) missed? Of course, it was. It has been more than two years since fans last saw their third single performed live. Almost in alignment with the roll call only moments before, SB19 went straight into their classic performance of the song that gave A'tin their individual house colors. With more than sixteen thousand people singing along and performing the fan chant, it's no wonder the boys ended the song with giant smiles on their
It was obvious how much SB19 missed the interaction with A'tin. When an Aegyo Break was demanded, the members obliged, mercilessly teasing each other along the way. The cheers were deafening as they made the cutesy gestures, clearly embarrassed but willing to make their beloved A'tin happy. It was a great way to transition from Alab to one of A'tin's most requested songs, "Hanggang Sa Huli" (Until the End). Though it was originally about unrequited love, the ballad became a dedication to their fans. Hanggang Sa Huli is often seen as a vow between SB19 and A'tin to continue until the end.
In another break, VJ Sabrina asked each of the boys a question, ranging from sugar colors to what each would choose to be. In their usual entertaining manner, they gave witty answers that had the crowd roaring with laughter. Three A'tin were also able to direct their questions to the group. Choosing the fans from different parts of The Big Dome, they were asked what they had for lunch and if the donuts used as props for their unexpected hit song and music video for Dunkin Donuts, The One, were real. They were. The last question caused the entire audience to scream - "When is your comeback?" Pablo diplomatically answered, "This year," and promised a surprise. We'll admit that it's a question we'd like to know the answer to as well.
If there is one SB19 song that showcases the vocal talents of the group more than any other, it's their debut song, "Tilaluha" (Stop Crying). From the calming bass of main dancer Ken to Stell's ringing high note, there is a reason Tilaluha has become a timeless song in their repertoire. Finishing off the first half, SB19 drastically shifted from Tilaluha to the first performance from their Pagisbol EP, "Mana." Rarely performed live due to its complex and tiring choreography, it was a special treat to see.
Signaling the end of the first half, SB19 exited the stage and made way for their special guests and sibling group, KAIA, to perform. The girl group members are absolute newcomers to the industry, having formally debuted less than a month ago. The group began the intermission with a performance of their pre-debut single, "Kaya." Their introductions followed, leaving fans to realize this was the second time the rookies have performed at The Big Dome in their short career. A performance of their debut single, "Blah Blah," followed, emphasizing their incredible vocal control and near-perfect choreography.
SB19 returned to the stage in style with a performance of their 2021 comeback song, "What?" The song, and its accompanying music video, have been a terrific turning point in the group's career, signaling a dramatic and empowering shift in their musicality. In this performance, it was a refreshing return to their original dance break, which felt fitting to the overarching theme of honoring their roots.
Stell, who had promised to explain their wardrobe choices during the earlier soundcheck, now revealed that each was dressed to represent a different type of donut in honor of their main sponsor, Dunkin Donuts. A quick guessing game led to thanking the crowd for coming and again prompted their song, SLMT (Salamat, or Thank You). It was answered with their favorite word, "Psyche!"
This could only mean that "Bazinga" was next on the setlist. The choreography for the song was recently updated for their P-Pop Convention performance (read the article here). Like at PPopcon, it included the new dance break before Ken's iconic Tagalog verse. Though it is only the second time the dance break has been performed, it is quickly becoming a fan favorite.
This challenging performance was followed by a game to which all A'tin would say, "Sana all!" (My wish for everyone) A Donut Relay with SB19 involved mixing the fans and the boys, passing a donut with a stick, and the last player, one team with an A'tin contestant, and the other with Justin eating the donut. The A'tin in the winning team took home signed merch, a real prize for any fan.
Their runaway hit, MAPA, was dedicated to their parents, to A'tin parents, and anyone who became a source of strength for other people. Lightsticks were raised in their honor as Justin led out the first heartwarming verse, and the entire coliseum sang the iconic song with them. Keeping with the joyful tone of MAPA, the happy notes of Ikako were next to fill the venue. Dedicated to every person, especially the frontliners, who struggled through the pandemic, this promise to stand strong and stay together through problems has become a song of hope.
Finally, "The One" was introduced. It was the first time this song, with lyrics written by Pablo for Dunkin Donuts, was performed for a live crowd. Another unexpected hit, this bouncy, retro-style love song, was met with cheers from the audience anticipating its performance. The real surprise of the evening was when Josh suddenly showed up in the middle of the audience and started singing before making it back to the stage just in time for his solo rap.
Of course, the concert had to end with SLMT. SB19 sang their thank you song for A'tin with their guests and dance crew. Instead of the descriptive choreography that usually accompanies the love song to their fans, it was a full dance party both on stage and in the audience. There could have been no better way to end the celebration.
From start to finish, each and every moment of Dunkin' Presents SB19 Live at Araneta felt like a reunion of old friends. A two-year-old promise had been fulfilled in a way no one then could ever have imagined. Like the meeting of friends who have been apart for years, joy and gratitude permeated The Big Dome. Had the event happened when originally scheduled, much of what made the concert special would never have been possible. This spectacular, hybrid concert brought A'tin throughout the Philippines and the world together to celebrate the journey of SB19 across the last two years. Perhaps most importantly, it silently acknowledged the loneliness of separation caused by the pandemic and celebrated a grand reunion between artists and their fandom. The message is clear – there are many more blue oceans to come.