While BTS has been busy making history with their soaring popularity and expansion into the Western market, they have also been crafting a story for their fans called LOVE YOURSELF. Naturally, this detailed and captivating concept is the theme of their current world tour, which features songs from the LOVE YOURSELF albums (Her, Tear, Answer) and short film Wonder. Two of our KCB writers – Jennifer and Kelsey – had the chance to attend the tour, and are here to share their reflections on various aspects of their experience.
Jennifer: I first saw the announcement about BTS World Tour “LOVE YOURSELF” on social media. My friend and I had promised each other that if one day BTS was having a tour in North America, we would go. And this is how it all started.
Leading up to the purchasing of tickets, I was constantly keeping an eye on social media sites such as Reddit and Twitter and the organizers Powerhouse Live, AXS, and Ticketmaster. My friend and I knew which dates and city we wanted to pick, which was the first showing in Los Angeles. On the day of ticket purchasing, my friend and I were ready to purchase. Ticket purchasing for Los Angeles was available through Powerhouse Live and AXS. We each had a computer or cell phone ready. In addition, we recruited two others to help us get tickets. We were aiming for P1 tickets!
How easy was it to get tickets? I would say it was the hardest K-pop ticket purchasing I’ve experienced. During the ticket purchasing, it was a battle between waiting time, fast clicking and simply pure luck. I was lucky enough to get P5 tickets for my friend and I, as others couldn’t even get a single ticket during the whole time. We were slightly disappointed because we were aiming for P1 tickets; however we wanted to secure tickets. I decided to try on other days to purchase tickets for Oakland and Hamilton. Unfortunately, I couldn’t even get a ticket at all. Later that week, it was announced that there was an added show in Los Angeles. We knew this was our last chance to try to get P1 tickets. Luckily, we ended up getting P2 tickets!
Kelsey: Seeing Hamilton on the list of official BTS tour stops made my heart skip a beat. Although there is a strong Kpop fanbase in Canada, it isn’t always feasible for Kpop groups to make their way north for concerts or events; the fact that BTS was coming here for three shows was extraordinary.
I kept a close eye on Twitter leading up to ticket sales and from the amount of excited interactions between Armies, I knew that it would be a battle for any ticket, let alone my preferred seat (P1 or P2). Still, I recruited a friend of mine and we holed ourselves away with three devices, a strong Wifi signal, and a prayer. As the clock turned the hour the refreshing began – a repetitive cycle of checking for available tickets.
I had set a rule for myself ahead of time that I would only buy a seated ticket, so when a General Admission spot showed up about half an hour later, I let it go. As time went on, I started to regret that quick decision – what if that was my only chance? Miraculously, one hour after I began, a P2 ticket became available, and just like that, I was going to see BTS live.
Venues & Merch
J: My friend and I flew to Los Angeles on September 8th and our concert was September 9th. Prior to that, I was researching heavily for the merchandise as I knew I wanted a tour shirt (I enjoy collecting tour shirts). I was reading on Reddit and Facebook about how extreme the merchandise purchasing was. People would line up around 4-8 am in front of the merchandising gate (the merchandise booth opened at 9 or 10 am). Since the concert we were attending was the last day in Los Angeles, I was reading about how early some people were going to line up. So I decided I would go line up at 4 am. (Yes, I lined up at 4 am for merchandise). When I arrived at 4 am, there were already 80 plus people in line! A lot of people had camped outside the night before. Thankfully, time went by quickly and I got to know those who were in front of and behind me in the line-up. As soon as 8 am came, the merchandise line almost looped around the whole block! The merchandise booth opened shortly after 9 am. Within 15 mins both the LY tour shirts had sold out in both colours. I ended up opting for a LY hoodie.
Besides the merchandise booths, there was the BTS Studio Presented by LG; this section had behind the scenes of the LG advertisement featuring BTS, a sound experience zone where you could listen to BTS through LG speakers, a virtual video booth where you could record or send a message, and a virtual photo booth where you could take a virtual photo with a BTS member (although this was only for people who won the lottery on the day – you had to pick the non-coloured ball in a draw or have done the survey prior and won an express ticket for it). This also had a different line-up in the morning and by the time I was done with the merchandise booth, I was exhausted and did not want to line up even more for the BTS Studio, so I did not visit it.
*Side Story: If you are a fan of BTS, then you are familiar with BT21. Luckily, Los Angeles also had a BT21 Pop-up Shop (Line Friends Store) to add to the concert experience. But this too had a line-up going into the store.
When entering the concert venue, my friend and I had no issues or line-up as we decided to enter 30-45 minutes before the show.
K: Unfortunately, I was only able to fly into Hamilton the day of the concert, so I knew that I would not have a chance to buy most of the merch items; I had heard from Jennifer and others that they sold out quickly. However, that simplified my goals for the day as they were also operating express merch lines where you could buy ARMY bombs (the official BTS lightstick) and batteries for them. This new, third version of the ARMY bomb has Bluetooth capability so that it can be controlled by the tech team to change colors to match to each song, and I knew it would be a good choice for the full concert experience.
When I arrived at the FirstOntario Centre I was easily able to locate the express merch booth outside, and I also walked past the (sold-out) regular merch booth and LG photo experience. There was also a large tour poster that you could pose with; I overheard someone say that the neat line-up had been self-formed. Somehow, this did not surprise me, as all of my interactions with fellow Armies were positive – they were kind, gracious, and excited to be there – and this, to me, spoke to the example that BTS always sets for their audience.
Although it did seem like the venue wasn’t quite ready for the size and enthusiasm of the crowd – the line-up to enter the building moved very slowly – once we made it inside, the atmosphere was electric. I was delighted to have a seat right across from the end of the extended stage, and to meet my seatmate, who was equally thrilled to be there.
J: Almost three hours went by way too fast. Prior to the show starting, MVs were projected onto the big screens. As soon as the light dimmed, a short video clip of them played, and the screens began to open up – you knew it was going to start. Throughout the night, each member got to perform their solo song with different stage props. They alternated between the main stage and front stage on different songs which made it more lively and interactive. The medley that night was Set B: Boyz with Fun, Attack on Bangtan, Fire, Baepsae and Dope. Despite it being the last concert for them in Los Angeles, their energy was indescribable.
K: The seven members were also full of energy for their first show in Hamilton, and it was infectious! BTS opened with IDOL and the mirrored songs Save Me and I’m Fine, and though each of these songs has complicated choreography they did them with ease. Even when the boys were offstage during short VCR films, their images alone were enough to elicit screams from the audience. More amazing, however, were the fan chants for each song, which the crowd delivered mightily and which made the whole show feel more collaborative.
I was particularly impressed by the solo songs of each member, which were presented in pairs throughout the evening. Each performance had its own color and feel, allowing you to see the unique talents of that particular individual. Although the focus was on songs from the LOVE YOURSELF series, they also included their classic hits Run and I Need U, and a medley of some of their early songs (I also saw Set B: Boyz With Fun, Attack on Bangtan, Fire, Baepsae, and Dope).
Highlights & Impressions
J: As I have seen BTS perform live at Music Bank, I knew I would not regret seeing them at a concert. Their energy towards singing while doing difficult dance routines without being breathless is pure talent.
My favourite part of the concert would be the imagery transitions between the songs. There was a VCR film showing two members, shortly after each member before their solo songs, and then a song with all its members.
Also, I really loved watching Save Me, transitioning to I’m Fine. I enjoyed watching it through videos but seeing it live had me in awe. However, I would have loved if they performed Spring Day in the medley (one of my favourite BTS songs). Nevertheless, I do love all the songs from the LOVE YOURSELF albums.
K: As a passionate BTS fan, I knew I would enjoy the evening regardless of what happened, but my experience surpassed expectations. I found BTS to be extremely professional – they performed with agility and dynamically engaged the audience – but it was also great to see that they were having fun themselves as they played around with each other and happily shared with the audience how excited they were to be in Canada.
Although I do enjoy the LOVE YOURSELF albums, I found the medley of their past songs was a standout as Baepsae and Fire are two of my favorite BTS tracks, and true to history J-Hope delivered a stellar solo moment for Baepsae by doing the splits. Seeing the rap line perform Outro: Tear (another favorite) right in front of me with such fire was also incredibly memorable. The crowd seemed to give a particularly strong response to Suga’s solo Trivia: Seesaw, to which he rewarded us with his characteristic broad smile.
The true highlight for me came near the end of the concert, when BTS was acknowledging fans and V (my bias, or favorite member) noticed my row with a wave and a smile. As any Kpop fan can tell you, Kpop artists are second to none when it comes to fan interaction and appreciation, so being on the receiving end of that benevolence is a treasured gift. BTS is a group that always puts their fans first, and they demonstrated that on their “LOVE YOURSELF” tour – which is, after all, centred on the idea that you need to love yourself, rather than trying to find your identity in other things – by reminding us that we are all deserving of love.
Categories: KOREA-CANADA BLOG 2018