Antler Express

Filed under Entertainment, Opinion

BTS Drops the Mic

International K-POP sensation, BTS, stuns the Los Angeles fans at the Staples Center on September 7 during their "Love Yourself: World Tour" .

BTS%27+Jimin+crosses+the+stage+boundary+in+order+to+get+closer+to+the+audience.
BTS' Jimin crosses the stage boundary in order to get closer to the audience.

BTS' Jimin crosses the stage boundary in order to get closer to the audience.

BTS' Jimin crosses the stage boundary in order to get closer to the audience.

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Fans at the concert arrive with lots of merchandise, including BTS’ official “lightsticks,” ARMY Bombs.

Since their debut in 2013, a group of seven guys known as BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan, which means Bulletproof Boy Scouts), has been known to defy the standards of K-Pop (Korean Pop) music. Their current sold out “Love Yourself World Tour” proves their astounding cross into the western music world. This is a feat that is rarely seen by other foreign acts. Their gigantic fan base, with a matching name to the group known as ARMY, has helped the group break world streaming records, create a UNICEF campaign, and earn recognition within the United Nations. This can all be found through their Twitter, where they have an average of 400K retweets and 2M likes. It’s no wonder that the Love Yourself Tour ticket release turned into a battleground within a matter of seconds. I was fortunate enough to have snatched a General Admission ticket with a winning soundcheck entry. This allowed me to sit in on the testing of sound equipment and practice to one of the four Staples Center tour dates five months prior, and from then the countdown to Los Angeles was on.

After years of supporting the group, the thought of getting to see BTS live put me in utter shock. My flight from Omaha to Los Angeles was full of anxiety and preparation for the concert that was in two days, but I did not come to play. Many ARMYs had begun lining up for general admission as much as six days before the first concert. Some fans had already taken the responsibility of numbering the first few hundred fans by hand. This continued to build up the entire week of their presence in LA. In fact, several roads surrounding the Staples Center were blocked off due to the estimated traffic. Upon my arrival, I originally received #273 on my wrist for my spot in line but reached the 57th spot through friendly connections. Waiting for two days on the streets of Downtown Los Angeles seems extreme, and it definitely was; however, in line, I was able to meet people from all over the world with different connections to this group. I even had the opportunity to be featured on news stations such as KTLA and iHeartRadio, being interviewed on how BTS had built up this fan base over the years and had brought all of this commotion to Los Angeles. Nothing comes close to the bonds that I created with some ARMYs that night. Getting along with fans of different ethnicities and stories only built up the excitement I held for the concert.

By 9 AM of the concert day, everyone had officially queued to receive their wristbands. The anticipation in the line had tripled. The tension in the air was so thick. I could feel how everyone wanted to get as close to the front as they could. Fights broke out between fans who felt they were being unfairly cut in line by others, and some ARMYs claimed that people were disobeying Staples Center property rules. In the end, I was able to avoid the chaos and quickly receive my wristband, allowing me to leave and get ready for the concert. At 3PM, I lined up in my soundcheck admission spot and entered the venue. This would be the first time I would see BTS live in my lifetime.

Only a select 400 people had won the exclusive soundcheck with the strict rule of no electronic use allowed. This made my first experience seeing them live even more personal. As I held my spot at the barricade, all of the members came out (in the most casual attire) to perform three songs, which were Run, I Need U, and Anpanman. All of the talent and personality I had observed about the group online was the same as it was in reality. Korean idols are continuously fantasized and seemed almost pretend in my head, but here they were. All seven members lit up the arena with their presence. They were actually interacting with me… blowing hearts, making jokes, and talking to all of us ARMYs so intimately. It was almost shocking how real they were in person, which quickly made me realize something about their looks, talent, and love that they had given ARMYs had received over the years… it was all the same.

After leaving soundcheck stunned, I went back to my spot in the general admission line according to my wristbands. Banners, pins, stickers, and other goods that were created by fans moved their way down the line, and by 5 PM we were allowed back into the venue for the concert. Yet again, I was able to secure my spot in the front row. Before the concert started, music videos were displayed while BTS fan light sticks, named ARMY bombs, were synced and controlled by the entertainment staff’s Bluetooth control. The arena was booming with “fan chants”, chants that were made to match their songs in sync, and the concert had yet to start.

BTS’s opening song, Idol, was decorated with bright pyrotechnics and confetti, which lifted the audience’s energy. The group’s designated leader RM, who is the most fluent in English, led their introduction and the following discussions, but I was especially surprised by the knowledge of the language that the other members displayed that night. My interactions with the members during the concert were just as thrilling as earlier that day. Some of the boys had even crossed the stage boundary in order to get a close encounter with the crowd (and of course, my ribs paid consequences for these actions).

As expected, their stage presence was breathtaking as they exhibited their dance and vocal abilities in each group song. Personally, the group songs I had enjoyed the most were Save ME, Run, Airplane pt. 2, Mic Drop and The Truth Untold. All of these songs had revealed a raw, intimate, or exhilarating side to their performance. Several ARMYs in line had confessed their initial interests in BTS regarding their involved process in songwriting and music composition. K-pop groups nowadays may be completely excluded from this step, which is another aspect of how this group defies normal Korean music standards. Throughout the concert, I got a taste of this music gift as each member eventually got the chance to display their talents through their own solo song. It was very heartwarming to see all of the boys in their element onstage. Trivia 承: Love, one part of the group’s “Trivia” hip-hop trilogy rapped by RM, and Euphoria, performed by the main vocalist Jungkook, proved to be my favorites of the concert. The synchronized colors of every ARMY bomb and fan chants continued to erupt, which only added to the boys’ excitement throughout the show.

Not only did I leave the Staples Center with no voice, but a strong sense of admiration for BTS. Their performances truly showed their natural gift and shining personalities. It’s no wonder that their fan base has grown exponentially in the past few years. I can easily say that the anticipation after supporting for what has seemed like an eternity was worth the entire concert experience.

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