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Stray Kids ‘unlock’ pandemic-hit stage with virtual concert

Choi Ji-won

The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

Seoul, South Korea  /  Tue, November 24, 2020  /  06:06 pm
Stray Kids ‘unlock’ pandemic-hit stage with virtual concert

K-pop boy band Stray Kids’ online concert 'Unlock: Go Live In Life' takes place in Seoul on Nov. 22, 2020. (JYP Entertainment/The Korea Herald)

K-pop boy band Stray Kids held their first virtual concert “Unlock: Go Live In Life” on Sunday, connecting with global fans online amid the virus outbreak.

Streamed through Beyond Live -- a livestreaming platform on Naver invested by the group’s agency JYP Entertainment -- the online concert picked up from the group’s first world tour “District 9: Unlock” which kicked off last November and had to be halted due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“Although we’ve been working hard with other stages, as soon as we kicked off tonight’s opening stage, I realized, yet again, that a concert stage is incomparable to any other,” Seungmin said, after the members started the night’s show with their most powerful dance hits “District 9”, “Victory Song”, “Question” and “Side Effects”.

“We even felt abstinence symptoms from the lack of concerts,” Han said jokingly. “We missed concerts so much that we would dance to ‘District 9’ in our rooms. It’s been so long since we’ve felt this thrill inside.”

The band performed to “Double Knot” during which they showcased perfectly synchronized dance movements. Switching the atmosphere in no time with their ballad track “M.I.A”, their dreamlike voices rang through the stage.

Unit performances followed, with the dance unit -- comprising Lee Know, Hyunjin and Felix -- dancing to “Wow” in stages filled with water, while the vocal line members -- Seungmin and I.N., joined by the group’s rapper Changbin – sang to “My Universe”.

The show’s energy climbed high with the group’s best hit song “God’s Menu”, during which the eight members performed Nanta -- a nonverbal drumming percussion -- to the beat of the song.

With the song becoming the group’s first music video to reach 100 million views on YouTube, soon followed by “Miroh”, Changbin gave a shout-out for fans, saying, “It was thanks to you guys that we could hit 100 million.”

A special gift was presented just for the fans that night. Revealing the first stage performance of the Korean version of “All In” -- which had originally been released in Japanese -- the members spontaneously announced the repackaged Korean version will be dropped on Nov. 26.

Not only the performances, but the dynamic visual effects filled with top-notch technologies wowed the fans watching the show through screens. While the stage changed shape into of a huge wooden ship during “Mixtape #4”, the floor turned into a burning pit during “Hellevator”.

Read also: K-pop group Stray Kids named Shopee Indonesia brand ambassadors

Throughout the two-hour show, the eight-piece act performed to a total of 22 songs, including “Blue Print”, “Back Door” and “We Go”.

I.N. showed deep regret in holding the concert virtual, saying, “I was personally very sad to be not able to hold the scheduled global concerts. I even felt depressed sometimes. Although I was sad myself, I was even more worried about Stays around the world who would have been disappointed.”

Taking pictures of the fans’ screens surrounding the stage, Hyunjin said, “It was shameful for us to hold only one concert and I’ve been waiting to show everything we had prepared back then. Hence, as this is (a part of) our first concert, I’m just honored and grateful to share everything through Beyond Live.”

“While excited, I was also worried as we thought about how we could deliver the thrill of a live concert. Although we are all in different time zones and places, we wanted to empower you guys through this concert. We really wanted to return all the love and support Stays had shown us,” Felix said.

The members actively invited the fans to engage with them, making eye contacts through screens and calling out for the fans to shout out screams. Although limited, the faces shown through fan cams and their screams ringing out through the speakers were enough to make the bandmates and their fans feel connected.

As Lee Know asked why the fans were not eating anything, fans started to show chicken, pizzas and fruit through their cameras and waved food packages to show that they were all enjoying the virtual concert. “Oh I see some dumplings as well,” Lee Know said, laughing awkwardly.

“I feel like I’m speaking on video chat with my best friends. It’s like I’m showing you guys what I have prepared and asking you to comment on it ahead of a big show,” Han said, looking around the screens in wonder. “I feel more nervous speaking to you guys like this, more than when I was performing. Let’s treasure this moment forever.”

It was not only the members who had surprised the fans, but the fans had also prepared a special event. The fans unanimously waved their phone screens showing the message “Stray Kids + Stay = Family,” silently cheering for the members.

“Wow, so you guys communicate with each other. You have so many friends,” the members shouted out.

“I’ve always felt our concert is like a special, cozy place for just us and Stays, and I’m getting that warm feeling again with this concert ‘Unlock,’” Bangchan said, adding in English, “Looking at you guys from here, you guys are all beautiful and all really amazing. Thanks for coming here and being at our very own special place.” 

This article appeared on The Korea Herald newspaper website, which is a member of Asia News Network and a media partner of The Jakarta Post