The Korea Herald/Asia News Network
The highly anticipated show in New York allowed BTS to vault to the highest tier of pop superstardom in the US. (Big Hit Entertainment/The Korea Herald/-)
Every step of BTS in the US has been history-making, from its performance at Prudential Center in Newark to its heartfelt speech in front of the United Nations in New York.
But maybe it was the highly anticipated show at Citi Field in New York that allowed the K-pop phenomenon to vault to the highest tier of pop superstardom in the US, where it also marked the end of the North American leg of its “Love Yourself” world tour.
The enthusiasm for the act’s first-ever stateside stadium concert, which began Saturday at 7 p.m. there, was off the charts. For the sold-out show, about 1,500 fans had camped out in the parking lot of the stadium for days and nights, with the first concertgoers lining up as early as Monday. And BTS’ stadium gig, which put the act in the company of pop stars like Beyonce and Lady Gaga, was everything any BTS fan could ask for.
Amid ear-shattering screams and feverish chanting of over 40,000 in attendance including a diverse group of teens, parents and adult K-pop enthusiasts, BTS kicked off the set with its boisterous hit “Idol” from the recently released Love Yourself: Answer, clad in black marching band-style jackets and pants. The set list was similar to that in Olympic Stadium in Seoul back in August, except for “Mic Drop”, which was changed to the English remix version featuring Steve Aoki.
After hyping the crowd with “Idol”, BTS greeted fans in English, starting with RM who shouted, “Everybody make some noise! Hello we are BTS. Welcome to BTS world tour ‘Love Yourself’ here in Citi Field. My name is RM.”
They continued expressing excitement over performing at the monumental stadium. “From LA, now it’s the last night of North America tour. We are here in Citi Field. Can you believe it?” said V, while Jungkook and Suga, respectively, added, “So many dreams came true after our ‘Love Yourself: Answer’ release,” and ”Billboard No. 1 again, started brand new tour and the UN speech.”
RM said, “It was really an honor. So everybody remember my speech? I’d love to get to know every one of you. So will you ‘Speak Yourself’ and tell me your stories?”
Wrapping up the talk time, the BTS leader belted out, “This is way more than we expected. We are happy to be here with our Army (fan group) in New York. Before we start, for your safety, please be mindful of each other, your close neighbors. And we hope you celebrate with us until the end. Could you do that Citi Field? Now, let’s move on to the next song.”
Bridging past and present, the nearly three-hour concert was filled with previous hits and recent songs from the Answer album. It was a culmination of everything the group has achieved, and fans walked down memory lane with BTS with beloved hits “Save Me”, I Need U”, “I’m Fine” and “Run.” Whether or not they were fluent in the band’s native language, fans chanted back BTS’ mostly Korean lyrics and its name.
Neither BTS nor fans’ palpable energies were lost in translation, with the crowd raising their voices even higher when BTS performed beloved hits “Magic Shop”, “DNA” and “Fake Love”, as well as a compilation of “Boyz with Fun”, “The Rise of Bangtan”, “Fire”, “Crow Tit” and “Dope”, songs that best represent the group’s infectious stage presence.
The crowd reached a deafening crescendo as the bandmates showed their distinctive charms and solo talents. Rappers J-hope, Suga and RM mesmerized fans with their hip-hop-spirited “Trivia: Just Dance,” “Trivia: Seesaw” and “Trivia: Love”, respectively. Smoothing the mood were Jungkook’s breathy “Euphoria,” V’s “Singularity” and Jimin’s “Serendipity”, during which fans temporarily stopped chanting and listened to the artist’s smooth vocals, as well as Jin’s solo performance of “Epiphany” during which he played piano as he crooned the emotional melodies and lyrics.
After the vocalists’ “The Truth Untold” and the rapper trio’s hip-hop laden “Tear”, the band exited the stage for the expected encore. With fans avidly chanting the individual members’ names for an encore, BTS jumped back up to the stage to perform “So What” and “Anpanman”, during which the stage was washed in colorful rainbow hues. Rounding out the concert was a memorable selfie time with fans and “Love Myself: Answer”, the ultimate concert finale anthem to send a heartwarming message of self-love.
All the bandmates had communicated with fans entirely in English during the show, but at the very end, some shared their sincere gratitude for fans in Korean.
After shouting out Citi Field, Jimin said in his own language, “I’d never thought that we would perform in Citi Field. I still can’t believe it, and today will be unforgettable. There were so many things we wanted to show you, but I feel sorry for not being able to do so.” With RM translating his words to fans, Jimin added with laughter, “I think we should come next year again, can we?”
Suga also commented in Korean, “While I said it was going to be our last concert in North America, it’s not the last, but a start. You know what I mean, right? I will just leave it to your imagination. We’ve achieved everything we and you dreamed and imagined. See you next year. I love you.”
The seven-piece group will be in Europe from Tuesday to Oct. 20 as part of its ongoing world tour and will hold a dome tour of Japan that includes Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka in November.
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