BTS burns the stage in historic U.S. stadium tour


BTS prepares to bow to the audience after the encore performances at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on May 18.

Becky Han, Editor-in-Chief

Seven men stand on stage before a sold-out crowd of 50,000; the stadium glimmers in a gorgeous constellation of white stars, made up of the individual glow of tens of thousands of globe-shaped lightsticks. The boys stand side-by-side and hold each other’s hands up before bowing to the audience, to which the crowd responds with deafening screams and camera clicks.

Only a quote from the band’s leader, named RM, can even come close to describing the unique connection that the boys and their fans, a devoted fanbase called ARMY, share.

“ARMY, this is only possible because of the little things we share together,” said RM during the band’s acceptance speech for Top Duo/Group at the 2019 BBMAs. “We’re still the same boys from six years ago. We still have the same dreams. We still have the same feelings; we still have the same thoughts. So let’s keep dreaming the best dreams together.”

BTS (Beyond the Scene) is a seven-member Korean boy band that has been shattering major American music records and musical expectations alike as of late. A K-pop group known and highly respected for writing and producing their own music, BTS dominates the internet, quite literally, being the most retweeted celebrities in the world for 2017 and 2018. Seeing phenomenal success in their home country, the boys have followed the footsteps of but a handful of other prominent foreign-born boy bands by growing into what many refer to as a “worldwide phenomenon.” The band most recently became the first group since The Beatles to earn three chart-topping albums on the Billboard 200 Chart within one year with their sixth and newest EP Map of the Soul: Persona, which was released in April.

The music video of the album’s title song “Boy With Luv,” a funk pop track that exhibits a bright image of the boys and features singer Halsey, became the most-viewed 24 hour debut in YouTube history with a staggering 74.6 million views. Yet, BTS is by no means a group defined simply by numbers. Map of the Soul follows up their immensely successful 2018 Love Yourself album series. With the title of the EP inspired by Dr. Murray Stein’s book on Jungian analysis titled Jung’s Map of the Soul: An Introduction, BTS explores ideas such as finding one’s true identity from a multitude of false personas and valuing the little things in life in the seven-track album. The EP, adorned with a collab with singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran in their track “Make It Right” and tributes to the music styles the boys started off their career with in 2013, sold 3.2 million copies in just one month and quickly became the best-selling album in South Korea.

The boys kicked off the North American leg of their stadium tour back in May, starting with sold-out, double-day stops in Rose Bowl Stadium in Los Angeles and Soldier Field in Chicago. Their performances are often described as powerful and exuberant, with each one complete with a dynamic urban choreography, synchronous singing or rapping, and, of course, the seemingly never-ending fire and energy of the boys themselves.

BTS made their final U.S. stop in MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on May 18 and 19, performing before a collective audience of 100,000. Starting off with an electrifying performance of their new song “Dionysus,” the group sang in glimmering white suits as red fireworks exploded from behind the stage. Despite the lyrics being in a language that was foreign to the vast majority of the audience, the crowd roared along with screams and remarkably unifying fan chants.

The members further revealed their diverse musical talents during their solo stages. Every member performed their solo songs to the utmost professionalism, and fans were able to witness a varying range of musical styles and themes, with J-Hope confidently performing his hip-hop-infused track “Just Dance” and V distinctly singing his R&B song “Singularity” while back-up dancers surrounded him with white masks.

“The boys themselves touch people with their music and are so passionate on showing people to love and appreciate themselves,” said junior Julia Liu.

Meanwhile, Jin’s solo song, “Epiphany,” was performed entirely on the main stage as he played the piano.

“I’m the one I should love in this world / The shining me, this precious soul of mine / I realize it only now, so I love me / Though it’s lacking, it’s so beautiful / I’m the one I should love,” sang Jin during his solo ballad. “I’m shaking and afraid but I keep going forward / I’m meeting the real you, who had been hidden in the storm.”

As the sun set and the sky cooled to a royal blue, the concert stage continued to burn as hot as ever. BTS’ performances, which ranged from those of emotional, softer tracks like “The Truth Unfold” to punchy, all-rap hits like “Outro: Tear,” were made flawlessly cohesive thanks to the boys’ smooth transitions from each song to the next, with even the brief intermission periods serving to be entertaining for fans due to the polished cinematography visible on large screen projectors.

The members of BTS truly seemed to enjoy every bit of the three-hour concert as much as their fans did, constantly cracking jokes with one another during the speaking portions and excitedly running over to the extended stages to freestyle-dance and have fan interactions with those seated in sections over to the side.

“Thank you for accepting seven boys from Korea who sing in Korean and have different looks and speak a different language,” said RM during the ending speech on May 19, the second day of the New Jersey stop. “You guys truly proved that music transcends languages, looks, everything.”

BTS, who built their way up after starting off in a small entertainment company with no previous history of successful artists, never fail to sincerely thank their fans for their current booming success.

“It was a really surreal experience. When Namjoon (RM) was speaking, the entire audience was silent,” said senior Sheannica Chua.  “All seven boys from Korea, who have only dreamt of becoming well known in their own country, have become global superstars who are now doing stadium tours and are on top of the world.”

Now, the band is off to Sao Paulo, Brazil for their next stop on the “Love Yourself: Speak Yourself” world tour, and fans are beyond excited to see what the boys have in store for their South American fans.