By Chelsea Thornton
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
Every BTS fan’s dream is to see them live in person. The boisterous energy of the audience, the beautiful aesthetics of the army bombs (the official BTS light stick) glittering throughout the entire venue in an animated fashion, the memorable performances that the members put on, the vibrating acoustics that fill your body as you are listening to the music, the wonderful live vocals of the members and the synchronization of the group dances.
This is what a fan can expect when attending one of BTS’s extraordinary shows.
What is seen on the screen cannot compare to how great the show is in person. I have had the luxury to attend two BTS concerts, both from the Love Yourself Tour. The concert that holds a special place in not only my own heart, but the heart of the fandom (which is called ARMY), is the Citi Field concert, which was not only another sold out concert in North America but was also BTS’s first stadium concert. Getting tickets to a BTS concert can be very stressful because BTS is a group that has millions of fans all over the world thus tickets are in high demand. For Citi Field I unfortunately was not able to get tickets the first time round on Ticketmaster but was able to catch some resells on StubHub. When I first was thinking about this concert my first thought was “I want to be in the very front”.
Me and my friend aimed to get general admission tickets and be as close as possible to the stage. We had already attended the concert in Hamilton, Ontario and sat far away so this concert was a chance to get to the front. In previous U.S concerts BTS had standing general admission, which meant spots on the floor was given out on a first come first serve basis. This called for MANY fans to set up tents and camp outside the venue (or near it since it was illegal to camp on venue property before the concert) and camp for days even a week before the concert. I was unable to camp because I lived six hours away from the venue and was unable to make it out there a week in advance. Me and my friend drove up to Citi Field the night before the show. It was at 5AM that we decided to head over to the venue and wait in line because another friend of ours was already waiting in line holding our spot.
We arrive on the scene and it is tent city. The number of tents that was at the venue stretched across the parking lot. Many people were bundled in blankets because the weather was a little chilly. I approached one of the concert goers and she said she had been camping out since the Monday before the show and I could not believe my ears. Me and my friend met up with our friend and we sat in the foldable lawn chairs that she had set up and offered us a blanket. In the video below I recorded just how many people were waiting in line that early in the morning.
At this point I had only gotten around an hour of sleep and barely ate any food (which I do not recommend because food and sleep are very important especially when going to a concert) but I believe that the excitement and the adrenaline is what kept me going. Just thinking about being in the same room as the seven men who I have admired and looked up to for years genuinely brought tears to my eyes. We waited in line for a good three hours before finally getting our wristbands. I still have my wristband to this day as a keepsake in my wallet. When that wristband was placed on my wrist, I was one step closer to seeing the lights of my life. By the time we got our wristbands it was around 9 a.m. and we were told to get back to the venue at 2 p.m. I was number 1609. After getting our wristbands we got to hang around the venue for a bit while we waited for our ride. As we were waiting, we heard BTS themselves rehearsing from the stadium. Their voices were clear as day and it was amazing to think about that in just a few hours, we would be within the same walls as BTS. Fans erupted everywhere, some even started to do fan chants and even dance to the songs they were rehearsing.
I got even more excited because I knew that BTS was going to put on a phenomenal show. We soon got picked and went back to our hotel to freshen up, (because we wanted to be in clean condition as we were in the pit) grabbed our army bombs and were back on the road back to the Citi Field stadium. Keep in mind this is New York City. NYC traffic plus BTS concert traffic equals the worst traffic jam in history. What originally took a 25-minute drive, turned into close to an hour drive. Meanwhile my friend who saved our spot in line was wondering where we were. Needless to say, I got a little stressed. But with due time we made to the venue.
Citi Field wanted us to wait in line by order of our number. It took a good five minutes to get to our spot, but we were able to find our friends with time to spare. People who bought tickets in the seated area did not have to worry about standing in line for their seats, so they just hung out and got merchandise. We waited for another three hours in this line because the doors did not open until 5 p.m. That sounds like a very long time but during the wait I was able to make some friends. We talked about who are biases were, our favorite albums and overall just enjoyed each other’s company. The time went by relativity fast and before we knew it, we were at the gate.
At this point my heart was about to beat out of my chest. I was two steps away from being in the same building as my idols, the source of my happiness. I feasted my eyes at the scenery, the stadium was huge, the seats were still pretty empty because the concert did not start until 7 p.m. The pit was quickly was filling up. Security told us not run so a sped walked as fast as I can. On the jumbotron, hit song “Fake Love” was blaring. Fan chats were already starting. I was three people away from barricade. I was pretty close for someone who did not camp out for days. I turn around and people were still filling in the pit. At one point I lost sight of the floor because so many people were in general admission. According to www.nytimes.com who wrote about the concert, it not only sold out in 20 minutes, but 40,000 fans was there in attendance. 7,000 of which was in the pit.
And finally, the moment we have all been waiting for. The lights go black, our synced lights stick started flickering across the stadium in a beautiful white sea. BTS emerges from the stage and “IDOL” starts blaring and the stadium erupts. I feel myself shifting as the pit starts moving toward the stage. The Fan chants started filling the room, phones were out filming this phenomenal moment. This was BTS’s first stadium concert and they were starting off with a bang. As soon as Namjoon, beautiful and humble leader also referred to as his stage name “RM”, said “They call me artist” It was at that moment that I knew I was actually here, this was actually happening. I am really seeing BTS live in person. This may have been the second time that I was seeing them but this time I was in close proximity.
“IDOL” was performed with so much power and energy. After “IDOL”, BTS came back out to welcome everyone. The members were so were so kind and despite having a language barrier, spoke English well when introducing themselves. The members were literally glowing on stage. Looking at them on a screen does not do their appearances justice. They are truly astonishing in person. Hearing Hoseok, our lovely main dancer and lead rapper of the group also referred to as “J-hope” say his famous line “I’m your hope, you’re my hope, I’m J-hope” was definitely music to my ears.
The members are so charismatic and have great stage presence, they create a sense of belonging and treat concerts more like family reunions. BTS have a strong connection between their fans and that is what makes all the waiting and anticipation worthwhile The set list (which is linked here: https://www.setlist.fm/stats/average-setlist/bts-3bdd50e4.html?tour=bd0f122) was jammed pack with songs from the “Love Yourself” album series and some fan favorite throwbacks such as “Silver Spoons”, “Rise of Bangtan”, and “Boyz with Fun”. Of all of the solo songs that the members performed, my favorite had to be “Just Dance” by J-hope. During “Just Dance, the stage was truly his. He expressed himself self so beautifully. He had a story to tell and he told it through his dancing and lyrics. The best thing about BTS concerts is that the show itself is an entire art show.
In the video below I was able to capture a bit of his performance and it is very graceful.
The use of the Bluetooth light sticks that created an ocean of different colors depending on which song it was, and the rhythmic pattern it followed according to where you sat was very magical.
I greatly cherish each of the members other solo songs. They each captured the hearts of fans with the way they took on the stage. Each member has their own unique style that made watching their performances so memorable. All of the members have excellent live vocals and their angelic voices resonated throughout of the stadium.
My favorite group number had to be MIC Drop, which according to billboard.com was BTS’s “first top 40 Hot 100 entry and the first for any K-pop group” was a performance that got the crowd very hyped. This song got so much air wave in the United States and was even considered BTS’s break through radio hit. The lights went the red and the stadium erupted in excitement. We all heard that familiar beat we all know in love from listening on the radio. Army bombs were in the air, and the performance began. BTS were amazingly synchronized. They complement each other very well in their group performances. Shouting the fan chants together was such communal feeling that I would never forget. We were all in perfect unison and it was a time where I was able to temporarily forget all my problems and bask in the glory that is witnessing this amazing show.
The very last song BTS performed “Love Yourself: Answer” was definitely very emotional. The members interacted with the fans in the pit, greeting us and telling us not to cry (because there were many waterworks all around). “Answer” is such a beautiful song and hearing it resonate throughout the entire stadium was a wonderful feeling. Our army bombs were flickering with rainbow colors and bubbles sprinkled the air. This song has so much meaning to me personally because it taught me that the answer to love is myself and in order to love to give to others, I have to love myself first and that really touched me. It was a beautifully finale to the concert. In the video below that I took myself you can see how the members gaze across the audience to live in the moment because they worked very hard to be where they are at and I was so proud of all of their accomplishments.
It was one of the best things I can could have ever been a part of. Everyone around me was filled with joy and being around such positive energy really moved me. It was a moment I could never forget.
Other concert goers had many good things to say about the show.
“It honestly felt so surreal,” Chachi Gonzalez said, who attended the concert in Citi Field. “To this day I don’t believe that I was in the same room as them because of how much excitement I had.”
“I forgot all my problems and worries and just lived in the moment with the people who made my life better with their words, music and talent,” Teresa Mejia said, who also attended the Citi Field concert.
“It was the first concert I ever attend by myself but honestly I didn’t care, the amount of love and closeness I felt with BTS and ARMY was unreal,” Said Tanya Weaver, who attended the concert in Fort Worth, Texas. “We don’t get called ARMY for nothing. The fan chants and cheers were so loud. We really are a big family. BTS makes their fans feels like they are a part of something special and we are fully immersed in that at their concerts.”
BTS touched fans around the world. Rebecca Navarro, who attended the concert in Paris, France said “I think what I really like the most is the feeling of the fans being like a community…for the concert itself it is perfect! To the visuals, the choreography etc.”
“Honestly it was the most emotional I’ve ever felt” Teagan Blair said when being asked about how the concert made her felt. Blair attended the concert in London, England at the Oracle arena. “I really felt like all the people there were friends because we were all just cheering along for BTS…I really feel like a concert is a place you can just get along with them.”
Maggie Davis, who was also went to the Fort Worth concert said, “It was really fun, there wasn’t a time I wasn’t crying or hyped, my throat hurt from screaming my lungs out.”
Going to a BTS concert at least once in your life is a must. As a fan of BTS for 3 years, I had anticipated this day for a very long time. It was a very memorable day and it will go down as the best of my life and very well worth the wait. If anyone is interested in going to a BTS concert (which I highly recommend!), getting tickets can be a bit of a process so here are some helpful guides to getting some such as this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZhdoYrrtvM and this guide: https://aminoapps.com/c/btsarmy/page/blog/ara-guide-to-buying-bts-concert-tickets-fast/V0bQ_g0Vf7uP1wGkLD8KrWqEj1r6w64wGd8. Tickets are typically sold on www.ticketmaster.com.
Special thanks to the member of BTS, Kim Namjoon, Kim Seokjin, Min Yoongi (Suga), Jung Hoseok, (J-hope), Park Jimin, Kim Taehyung (V), and Jeon Jungkook for making this night very special for all of ARMY.