While the country is yet to host a major, physical concert due to pandemic restrictions, that didn’t stop Pinoy Rap Group Ex-Battalion from thinking they could charge people tickets worth up to Php 35,000 for the “Atin ang Gabi” tier set for their upcoming online concert.

That’s not a typo. Ex-Battalion thinks that there’s a market for a ticket priced that much for people in the Philippines during a literal pandemic, though to be fair to them, that seemingly ridiculous price tag does come with a few freebies. Here they are, in their own words:

Access to online concert,  plus Printed Ticket, EXB Greetings via Zoom, EXB “Inside Kwento” via zoom, signed EXB poster. Plus EXB Mask and Shirt, RS Mask and Shirt, SV shirt and jacket, and an exclusive dinner with the EXB. With an exclusive access to the Listening Party (inclusive of cocktails) featuring never-before-heard (Unreleased) Ex B tracks.”

It comes as no surprise then that both Ex-Battalion and producer RS Francisco got flamed by the internet and discerning music listeners everywhere because of the ridiculous ticket prices, especially for an online concert. Even if you factor in the physical interaction with the rap group through dinner and a listening party, people just don’t think the price that they’re asking for is worth it.

As a response, Francisco defended the prices for the higher-tier tickets, saying that “BTS na rin ang datingan nila“, comparing the local rap group to the International K-pop supergroup BTS.

Being someone who is an avid concertgoer AND one who regularly watches, and pay for online KPop concerts for a fraction of the price, I really, really find Francisco’s statement insulting.

Granted that I’m not a BTS fan (or Army in short), there are a bunch of reasons why Francisco’s statement about the Ex-Battalion concert just rubs me the wrong way. Let’s break it down:

The inclusions are hard to justify. While the regular online concert tickets are fairly priced from Php 300 for the Exacto tier to Php 2,000 for the Extremely Explosive tier, the jump to Php 20,000 for the Extended Excitement tier and Php 35,000 for the Atin Ang Gabi tier is laughable.

According to KTX.ph, the Php 18,000 hike between the Extremely Explosive tier and Extended Excitement tier is due to the addition of merchandise from Frontrow owners Fransisco and Sam Versoza, exclusive Ex-Battalion merch, and a dinner with the rap group. While the dinner may sound enticing enough, I don’t think that they command such a high premium for a meet-and-greet.

For context, it is no secret that KPop fans would buy multiple albums of their favorite KPop artists at around Php 1k per album in hopes to win a slot for a 1-on-1 videocall with their favorite idol. On a good run, I have close friends who manage to secure a 1-on-1 videocall while ordering roughly a dozen albums. That’s around Php 12k for an opportunity to talk to their favorite KPop idols online even for a minute or two, and that has better value for money compared to what Frontrow has to offer to Ex-Battalion fans.

Speaking of the local concert scene, the most expensive tier in the upcoming online concert of Ben&Ben is Php 8,000. That price tag includes a 1-on-1 harana session with the group via Zoom, along with access to the online concert. While it is not a physical interaction like what the higher ticket tiers of the Ex-Battalion concert have to offer, Php 8k is a fairly palatable asking price for an OPM group with a number of achievements under their belt. Speaking of achievements:

They don’t have that many achievements in their career. Despite starting their career back in 2012, not a lot of Filipinos know about Ex-Battalion. Heck, people will be familiar with the likes of SB19 and Ben&Ben more than Ex-Battalion, as those OPM groups have been making waves recently–both locally and abroad.

Both rising OPM groups collaborated together with much acclaim, and SB19 was even the first Southeast Asian act to be nominated in Billboard Music Awards for the Top Social Artist category (alongside BTS no less) AND to be part of the top 10 of Billboard Social 50 weekly and year-end charts. Ben&Ben, on the other hand, was nominated for Best Southeast Asian act at the 2020 MTV Europe Music Awards.

To date, Ex-Battalion is only known for two songs–“Hayaan Mo Sila” in 2017 and “No Games” in 2016–and has only won one award in their career so far. Comparing them to groups like BTS is ridiculous, and bordering on an insult to the whole Army fandom, as there’s really no comparing the 3rd-gen KPop Boy group which has accumulated multiple awards in their 8-year career that include Artist of the Year at the 2021 American Music Awards to a local group that has yet to break into the international music scene.

 

There are other OPM groups that deserve better support. While Francisco does have a point where he said that they want to help promote Filipino artists, I don’t think that Ex-Battalion deserves the VIP treatment. There are other OPM groups that deserve VIP treatment, and we have Ben&Ben and SB19 on top of our minds right now.

We’re just scratching the surface with mentions of Ben&Ben and SB19, as the OPM scene is thriving with new artists and groups that have songs that are way better than what Ex-Battalion has to offer. Not that I’m looking down at the Filipino hip-hop scene (of which Ex-Battalion’s genre is under), but I still believe that they have a long way to go before they can demand such exorbitant ticket prices for their concert.

 

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