It’s been nearly two years since BTS was in the U.S., but last week an ARMY of fans descended upon the Greater Los Angeles area for a special occasion. The first offline concert since the finale of the “Love Yourself: Speak Yourself” world tour at Seoul Olympic Main Stadium on October 29, 2019. The concert series not only marked yet another impressive milestone in the BTS’s career, but it was also a momentous occasional RMY will not soon forget.
For many ARMYs, myself included, we’ve only ever experienced BTS through a screen, but ARMY welcomed us with opened arms. From VIP parties and hikes to meetups at the LineFriends store and more, ARMY fans of all ages came together to celebrate as well as connect with one another in person again.
Aside from all the togetherness, what impressed me most was ARMY itself. The entry into the venue on the first day was chaotic at best. Lines into each entry were hundreds if not thousands of fans long. They split, weaved, zigzagged back and forth many times over, and sometimes didn’t move for over an hour once the gates opened. But ARMY stepped up and kept its cool because we were in the chaos together. That in and of itself proves this fandom is something else.
Let’s jump in.
BTS began the show by performing three powerful tracks that brought the energy levels up high, setting the tone for the rest of the night. Each member was introduced on the large screen in what looked to be a fake jail cell alongside their ‘Butter’ mugshots. When they finally broke free, the backup dancers got into formation, kicking off “ON” in grand fashion. They followed their opening performance with a fun remixed version “FIRE” and a more upbeat version of “DOPE,” before taking a much-needed breather.
When the lights came up again, there they were – BTS. Live, in color, and on stage. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, RM took the mic to tell us to “make some … ” well I am sure you’ve seen the meme online to know the rest. As each member introduced themself, they talked about how much they missed ARMY and how hard the last two years have been.
Jungkook: Just wondering if the Jungkook stans are alive because look at this man. He gave 110% to every song and moment throughout the concert, and it didn’t hurt that he looked so gorgeous and so cool while doing it. Plus, you can tell he’s been working on his English and was super proud to show it off. So cute!
Jin: While BTS’s maknae smoldered, its oldest was making the stage his playground. From the moment he introduced himself and blew his token his to the camera, Jin was all smiles. Whether he was playing with the smoke gun or making go “AWW,” when he came out a flower and ribbon tied in his hair, Jin was the highlight for many.
RM: If you watched RM in press interviews leading up to the concert series, you know that he’s got a slight edge to him now. It’s as if he’s keeping outsiders at arm’s length in an effort to protect the group and he doesn’t care who knows it. Not to mention, our rapper now is very comfortable swearing in English now and I couldn’t be more here for it. For all of it. You tell them RM!
Jimin: There’s nothing quite as special as Jimin during a concert. He was the member we saw most on V-Live during the pandemic, and you could feel his excitement. Jimin was full of energy and life as he happily jumped around the stage, played around with other members.
V: Like his best friend, V was visibly excited to be back in front of ARMY. He threw shade at himself for having a hurt leg during their online concert recent, accidentally hit a fan with a huge balloon, and even took a page out of RM’s book and swore too.
J-Hope: Like any ARMY, I’ve seen J-Hope introduce himself to ARMY at least once, but there’s nothing quite as remarkable as participating in the “I’m your hope,” introduction in real life. He exuded his typical bright energy throughout the night, with a cool hat collection to boot. However, he was one of the few members who struggled to keep tears at bay as they said goodbye to ARMY for the night – the others were also rapline members.
Suga: This man, proved time and again throughout the night why he is my bias. Not only did he look, sound, and perform beautifully, but he was everyone else’s, hype man. It didn’t matter what a member was doing or saying, he was looking at them and smiling like a proud dad. He was also the only member to not speak English during the opening or ending ments, but had a translator for the powerful ending ment he delivered.
After their energetic first stage, BTS moved on to perform an intense round of fan-favorite songs with beautiful stage outfits to match. The members impressed ARMY with their stamina and consistent stage presence throughout this section of the setlist, performing many of their choreography intense tracks. This included, “Black Swan,” “Blood Sweat Tears,” and “Fake Love.” While the stage outfits were swoon-worthy, to say the least, what captivated me was the elegance and airtight choreography. Aside from the shirt lift of “Fake Love,” my favorite performance was “Black Swan,” and how each member was revealed through the other dancers until Jin was lifted as a flying beautiful swan.
Additionally, it was nice to see BTS go into the vault of their discography and perform “Save Me,” “Baepsae” and “I Need U.” As a newer ARMY, I thought I would never get the chance to hear them live because they are older. But in true BTS form, they never fail to exceed expectations.
Typically, the VCR tapes that play between stages while the members are backstage changing, set something up. That something can be an upcoming solo or subunit performance, a future album, or whatever. This time though, it looked and felt a little different.
At first, I thought, they were announcing new subunits – weird, yes, but new. I was wrong. The VCR tapes are actually more like a mini-movie. RM, V, and Jungkook are trying to get a mysterious case from their garage to Suga, Jin, Jimin, and J-Hope at a party. Eventually, the members all meet up at a convenience store and take their dancing to the street because you don’t need permission to dance.
An Emotional Parting
If you’ve ever watched a BTS concert, you know that for every emotional high, their is the proverbial emotional low. For me it was the encore song, “We Are Bulletproof: The Eternal.” It was the first time that song, and many others from Map of the Soul 7 and Life Goes On were performed. The love that BTS has for ARMY and how much they missed them was palpable the entire night, but nothing more so than in that moment with that song.
Venue issues aside, it was a night I will soon not forget. Not only was it my first BTS concert, but also my first K-pop concert ever. I now understand that the love BTS and ARMY have for one another isn’t just something that a musician says to its fandom to make them feel important. It’s real and both proved it time and again throughout the night.
So whether you snuck in, bought a ticket, or tuned in virtually, we can all agree nothing felt better than that moment when RM announced, “BTS IS OFFICIALLY BACK!”.
Watch the recap here and drop your comments below. Did you attend? What did you think?