MTV EMAs, or The 6-Hour Long Wait To See Ed Sheeran’s Back

March 02, 2015 / by / 0 Comment

Recently the obnoxious Yalun Tu of HK Magazine made a completely unsubstantiated comment on Hong Kong indie and then went on to talk about commercial music scene. This reminded me of something I wrote for the qmunicate*(1) magazine back in November. It never ended up getting published, and I thought you guys might like it…

Back in June, when I was still getting excited about my exchange over in Glasgow, I attended what they called a pre-departure meeting at the British Consulate in Hong Kong, where anxious parents fired rapid questions at this lovely blonde lady called Lexi, who calmly reassured everyone that Glasgow’s-crime-rate-stats-are-just-myths-but-really-don’t-ever-go-to-the-East-End-LOL. Lexi told us it’s a big year for Glasgow, with the Commonwealth games being held and the whole People Makes Glasgow campaign; one of the things that especially got my blood pumping though was the fact that the MTV European Music Awards (EMAs) would be held there in November. Tthe other two: that Glaswegians have fireplaces they actually use in winter, though so far I’ve only seen a rather unimpressive one at the Glasgow University Union*(2), and that Nirvana once played at Glasgow University (!!!).

When I got to Glasgow my friends and I made it a point to regularly keep tabs on the EMAs page to see when they would make announcements for tickets. Eventually they did, and it was to be a draw; five of us entered but none of us got it. One weekend when I was away in Amsterdam, my friends got hold of information that there would be ‘auditions’ at the Queen Margaret Union*(3) for tickets, and all of them, being the high-spirited creatures they are, won some. They could each bring a friend, and they took me along (!) so on Sunday 3:30pm, all of us, decked out in our best rock-star attire, stood at the queues in front of the SSE Hydro*(4), trying not to act too groupie-like as we waited to get into this hush hush ‘red-carpet’ ceremony that we were invited to before the actual show starts at 8pm.


The so-called red carpet

Perhaps the years of going to concerts turned me into a cynical ***hole, but that day I found it very, very hard to take anyone who display fangirl behavior seriously. By fangirl behavior I am referring to screaming hoards of fans who bask in stardom for the sake of stardom and not out of appreciation of whatever the artist’s art form is. (I am deeply sorry that the word fangirl is coined as such; its derogatory meaning definitely extends to guys as well and it might do better to come up with the term ‘fanperson’, though I guess it doesn’t have the same ring to it.) A typical example would be this girl I saw at a 30STM concert years ago who had Echeleon symbols drawn on her face and loudly declared her love for the glorious man that is Jared Leto, but when invited onstage could not sing the words of “Kings and Queens”. There were a lot of those types that day at the EMAs, fans who were on the verge of crying (not exaggerating) because they couldn’t get to the front to watch the stars sashay down the ‘red carpet’, which really was just some small cramped neon-light room at the Hydro. I was complaining too, but mostly because I just didn’t want to be there; I couldn’t care less if I don’t manage to take a selfie with Ariana Grande to post onto and show off on Instagram after, and if I had it my way I would skip right to the awards and performances. One of my friends pursued the whole course with a particular vigor, taking part in all the MTV Breaks sessions and standing at the fences right behind the red carpet area, with a one track mind to get as many pictures of the celebrities as possible to later post on social media. I was glad he was enjoying himself so much, but I also couldn’t for the love of god understand why.


Some of the lovely ladies I went to the EMAs with

If I had to use one word to describe the day, it’d be ‘tiring’. We were first locked into the ‘red carpet area’ for around four hours without food, and except for the people in the first two rows – which must have been around a fifth of everyone there – no one could see anything because our view was obscured, so there was little point to the whole thing. Me and some other girls ended up sitting on the floor and chatting instead. We weren’t let into the show until a little past eight, when it’s already started, and even then we were standing in areas where we had to look more at the big TV than the actual stage. When the crane came in or there were other special performances, all of us had to be shifted – picture sardines being rearranged in a can. It wasn’t pretty, and all of us struggled to not fall over. I couldn’t help but wonder if the whole thing was a stunt to get people to actually go to the red carpet thing in exchange for free tickets, because they needed crowds to be shown on TV and no one in their right mind would wait for over 5 hours to see the back of Ed Sheeran, even if it was free. If I were such a huge fan of any of those performers that night, wouldn’t I just get tickets to see their individual shows? It preyed on our fangirl mentality, and it worked. I can’t complain either, because I didn’t do anything to deserve the tickets; if I didn’t have fun and put on a sour face because my legs were hurting, I felt like an ungrateful bitch. So I mostly remained quiet. But good job, PR people, for coming up with this. The idea of being at the awards was awesome, but at the end of the day it just wasn’t worth it.

I guess one fatal factor that kept me from enjoying the night was the fact that I didn’t even like pop. I had forsaken pop many, many years back, which is also why I find it hard to enjoy even clubbing; I’m not a big fan of electronic/dance/house, and everywhere else just plays Top 40s, and while everyone’s singing along an dancing I mouth the words and smile and pretend I know the song. I cannot deny that there are pretentious hipster sentiments in this inclination of mine, but it’s just the way it is. Anyhow, I find the concept of pop very hard to accept; how is that there are so, so many people out there in this world that likes music not because of its musicality but out of the sheer fact that it’s popular?


A blurry picture of Ms Nicki Minaj

That night, however, I suppose I found some answers to that question. I could scoff at the fact that most of these people don’t even write their own music and there is not much to their style apart from the flimsy description that they are ‘catchy’, but the it still remains that a lot of these stars are fantastic performers (How on earth did Charli XCX manage to dance like that and not even once go off-key?), and this alone deserves merit in its own right. And when the whole stadium belts out the words to *insert name of Enrique Iglesias song everyone in the world except me knows* and sings about looking at butts with Nicki Minaj, there is an odd sense of solidarity in the moment. I once heard a joke quote about how if everyone smoked weed the world would be a better place for those couple of minutes when we’re all high, but I think music works to the same effect. There’s something special about everyone knowing, appreciating, and enjoying themselves to the same thing at the same time, an occasion when all differences are put aside. Other genres of music does that too, and perhaps there’s an even greater joy when you discover fellow fans of obscure bands, but these songs are hardly likely to be played in malls, and you don’t get to look around and find random strangers bobbing their head to them too. Pop invades your life, leaving you little choice but to know the songs, but also because of that it amount of people it affects is by default greater – a greater sense of unity. Pop is unique like that, and perhaps I would not have understood that if I hadn’t gone to the MTV EMAs.

P.S. I feel obliged to point out that my general music experience in Glasgow has in fact been an amazing one, and a huge part of it was thanks to all the free tickets I got from qmunicate, since I was writing music reviews for them. I had the opportunity to interview Taylor Momsen, go to the legendary King Tut’s to see this amazing band called The Subways, get slightly weirded out by a Finnish post-punk band called Beastmilk, and see one of my dad’s favourite bands China Crisis at Oran Mor. There’s a reason why Glasgow is a UNESCO City of Music. Glasgow, you literally rock!


(1) qmunicate: official magazine/publication of Queen Margaret Union, University of Glasgow. I’ve written over half a dozen articles/reviews for them and you can read their stuff here -

(2) Glasgow University Union: The older of the two student unions in Glasgow, the GUU originally only took in male members and still has a lingering reputation for being at times misogynistic.

(3) Queen Margaret Union: This union was originally established as a foil to GUU and hence was a female-only union, though both unions have now extended membership to all sexes. For cooler gigs, discussions on feminism and LGBTQ rights, and generally more open-minded people, go to QMU.

(4) SSE Hydro: A brand new arena that only opened in 2013, the SSE Hydro has an impressive capacity of 13,000. That being said, I still miss the cozy environment of King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut…

Header Pic: The Back Of Ed Sheeran.