From Wednesday to Sunday, Staples Center was filled with glowing ARMY Bombs, dancing fans and the magnetic music of seven men who had traveled all the way from South Korea.
Thursday was the second night in Los Angeles for BTS, the Korean boy band that sold out three shows at Staples Center and later added another due to high demand. Fans — also known as “Adorable M.C. for Youth” or ARMY — with general admission tickets waited as early as the day before to start lining up for entry. Such is the power of BTS.
In 2018, the group released two albums that topped the Billboard charts, shared a music video that become the fastest to reach 100 million views on YouTube and sold out all North American shows on their BTS World Tour: Love Yourself.
The tour was named after the group’s “Love Yourself” album series. The trilogy follows a singular story arc in which the boys finally reach an epiphany about the importance of self-love.
Even before the boys came on stage, BTS ARMY were practicing fanchants along with music videos playing on screen; every time a new video played, they screamed so loud it seemed like the real show had begun. Between syncing up their ARMY “bombs” — glowing light sticks set to change colors with the music — and starting a wave around the stadium, fans created their own atmosphere of anticipation as they waited for BTS to take the stage.
When the lights shut off, the crowd held its breath before shouts of joy emerged as one screen lit up and began to move. The sensual, energetic opening notes of “Idol” played right before the spotlight fell on the pop sensations and the show began.
BTS’ choreography, lyrics and presence worked in tandem to captivate the crowd. Seeing a music video performed in real life is something unique to K-pop and, for many fans, BTS embodies the best of the best.
“Magic Shop,” a song written for the fans, echoed a sweet message throughout the arena: “You gave me the best of me, so you’ll give you the best of you.”
The boys then launched into a sequence of solo songs, each showing off his individual talents. J-Hope, who released a solo album this year, performed “Trivia: Just Dance” and showed off his skilled dance moves before the youngest member, Jungkook, took the stage with “Euphoria,” effortlessly hitting all the high notes.
Later in the night, Jimin performed the sweet song “Serendipity” with sensual dance moves, bringing new meaning to his gentle crooning: “Just let me love you.” When band frontman and songwriter RM performed his wordplay-filled solo “Trivia: Love,” he had the whole stadium chanting after him: “Saram, saram, saram” (people, people, people) and “Sarang, sarang, sarang” (love, love, love).
The audience went wild when BTS performed a medley of classic tracks including “Boyz with Fun,” “Attack on Bangtan,” “Fire,” “Silver Spoon” and “Dope.” Despite its short five years, BTS has an extensive discography. The group in turn rotated the songs each night of its L.A. performances to keep fans on their toes.
Vocalist V reenacted the music video for “Singularity” — bodiless masks, cloaked backup dancers and all — after a breathtaking concept video, in which he posed somberly in a mauve-colored set, a glass box and a field of roses.
In “Trivia: Seesaw,” rapper Suga showed off his vocals and dance moves in a rare solo performance, and vocalist Jin closed the solos with the powerful ballad “Epiphany” performed on the piano.
All the vocalists — Jin, Jimin, V and Jungkook — came together to sing “The Truth Untold,” another emotional ballad. The rendition saw the boys standing on raised platforms without accompanying choreography, their vulnerable expressions projected onto a jumbo screen.
Right after, the rap line, comprising RM, Suga and J-Hope, transformed the room with an energetic performance of “Outro: Tear,” an intense rap song that had the audience as energized as the boys were on stage.
After several elaborate costume changes — from fringe to lace to sparkles — the boys settled into plain black tour shirts with “Love Yourself” printed on the backs for their three-song encore of “So What,” “Anpanman” and “Answer: Love Myself.”
BTS has proven to the world that music transcends language and geographic barriers. The members’ personalities, music and success story have captivated millions across the world. Ultimately, BTS’ live performances only strengthen the love, adoration and admiration fans already have for them.