Charlie Lim was- or is- nothing short of amazing. However, coming from someone whose virgin experience at a concert took place last night, it probably doesn’t mean much. I’d already been a supporter of Charlie since early 2013, when he appeared on the cover of NP’s HYPE magazine (check it out here) looking his charming self. I held on tightly to that copy of the magazine throughout the camp I was attending, and now it’s sitting in my cupboard, a testament to that first encounter.
I’m being really dramatic, aren’t I?
Well. Last night was just wonderful and fantastic and lovely. I had dinner with Yun Rong at the Grand Pavilion Cafe, a quiet little Chinese restaurant with a largely black-and-white interior with touches of wood tones. The walls were interesting: raw bricks laid in an unusual pattern and painted over with white; black pillars overlaid with food-related phrases in glossy ebony.
We then visited Popcornpop Movie Memorabilia Specialist in a vain attempt to find a poster we could buy for $10.
We did chance upon someone playing at the foyer area though; it was around 6.30-7pm? If anyone knows, please tell me! He had really nice music. While we were there, we received free white coffee samples! I don’t drink coffee though. Maybe I should start.
Then, concert time!
There was a little queue by the time we got there – the usual bag checks, ticket checks and bracelet tagging. We walked past the small merch table – I kind of regret not buying anything. The entrance was really cool:
(Basically everything was cool to me, okay.)
The interior was reminiscent of an old-time jazz bar, with neon signs and a bar. Raph asked if I wanted a beer but I chickened out. It also didn’t seem like a very good idea to be spilling the drink everywhere if I jumped or anything.
The crowd was curiously avoiding the area near the stage- there seemed to be an invisible barrier- but my peers fearlessly walked ahead and up to the stage. It was slightly scary for me to so brazenly walk up but to my surprise, the crowd closed in on us and soon we were fighting to stay in front. It was absolutely exciting to be standing so close that I was able to lean against the stage and rest my arms on the stage. (My friends let me do that; thank you guys. (: )
After about a 10-minute wait, Charlie entered and the crowd went wild.
The set was electrifying from the start, yet a little like watching a friend perform – a comforting, quiet kind of excitement. Or maybe it’s because I’d listened to his songs so many times that I knew the lyrics by heart. Still, the new tracks he let us hear were as expected from him – full of soul and meaning, yet easy to listen to and simple to understand. He had such a way with music that it didn’t matter if you understood the lyrics- the general sense of what he wanted to say came through and you were left with a deep abyss of feelings that took a long time to shake.
The real prize of the concert for me though, was looking at his face when he was playing, and seeing the pure, unadulterated joy in his eyes, the look of someone who truly enjoyed what he was doing, the face of someone who would not give up his craft for the world.
The set ended way too quickly for everyone in the crowd, and there was a collective wave of longing (?) that went through the crowd when he said “this is the last song”. It ended quite dramatically, with the band members leaving the stage one by one, starting with Charlie and ending with the keyboardist, Euntaek. It left me and my companions giggling – the ending was almost too dramatic and slightly cheesy for the Charlie we knew.
We yelled for an encore and after a few minutes Charlie came back out on stage!
He thanked the crowd again, then looked around and wondered aloud, “Where’s my band?”, which gathered a few giggles.
Towards the end of the encore, I (quite shamelessly/embarrassingly) called out, “Can I please have the setlist?” He smiled and obliged, grabbing one and holding it out with both hands. He might’ve blushed, he was smiling so much.
Later on, outside the venue, there was a short half-hour of sort of a meet-and-greet with Charlie, and I stood there waiting for a while before I got my turn with him. I didn’t plan to, but after I said hi, I blurted “Do you remember? I’m the girl who said you were hot stuff and then you wished me happy birthday,”
Well, the conversation (if you can call it that) went like this:
“I’m the girl who said you were hot stuff-”
“And then you wished me happy birthday, do you remember-”
“Oh! Yeah, I remember,” (I think he blushed.)
“You do?! Oh my god,” (And then I hugged him. Well more of a squueze/ side hug. We were standing side by side in an arms-around pose.)
He smiled. Oh my god I made him smile.
(I know one day I will regret all this childish, teenage lovesick rambling but I really need to get it out of my system.)
Later on, I (stupidly) forgot to get him to sign the setlist, so I was just standing at the outskirts of the crowd wondering what to do and almost breaking down because goddamit I missed my chance but Yun Rong pushed me and just told me firmly to just get out there and do it because you’ll never get this chance again. So I sheepishly approached him again after someone took their photos and asked him really quickly to “Hi can you please sign this?” and I think he recognised me from earlier and then made the link between that girl right in front and the girl who said he was hot stuff and the girl who squeezed him and he went “Yeah, sure. What’s your name?”
I was a bit annoying, I think, when I spelt my name out because too many people have misspelled it and I really didn’t want him to join the masses. It doesn’t help that I have a weird name. When he was done, I thanked him (a little over-enthusiastically but to hell with being proper) and went on my way.
Yun Rong and I made our way to Haagen Dazs for ice cream and to take advantage of the last few hours of our Mosaic discounts. I talked her ear off with my spazzing about Charlie, EXO, dance and other random things. But mostly Charlie. You can’t blame me, really…
I held the setlist in my hands the entire way home, I didn’t want it crumpled in my bag. Got quite a few stares but I don’t care I HAVE A SIGNED SETLIST FROM CHARLIE LIM. It got home safe and sound and I was so relieved.
Oh! I almost forgot! I found Gerard? Gerald? At Mosaic too. We met at NP when Charlie came and we both happened to be going for Mosaic, so he’d said maybe we’d see each other, and we did! It was a nice surprise. He popped in and asked if I’d gotten the setlist signed when he saw me at Haagen Dazs and he was on his way home. What a sweet dude.
Charlie was the closing act for Mosaic- the last show as well as the only Singaporean to be included in the lineup. I felt a strange sense of pride whilst watching him; I didn’t have any claim to him, nor did I experience anything with him personally that would warrant such an emotion. Yet I felt it, pride that I had found such a talented artist whose music resonated so much with me, even though we led such different lives.
It was a great day. Thank you, and I won’t forget.