BTS: The Global K-pop Sensation Takes on the Tri-State Area for Their ‘Love Yourself’ World Tour

On September 28th and 29th, 2018, world-renowned K-pop group, BTS, made a stop in the Tri-State area for the North American leg of their Love Yourself  World Tour. Their arrival caused a frenzy as fans prepared for the near-impossible task of buying tickets.

BTS, or Bangtan Sonyeondan (방탄소년단) in Korean, is a group composed of seven young idols from South Korea. It has been some time since their debut in 2013, but since then, the K-pop group has clearly risen to a well-deserved fame in South Korea and around the world.

The group first stopped in Newark, New Jersey, where The Prudential Center sold out the septet’s concert tickets in a matter of minutes.

Their fans, known as the BTS “ARMY,” are a supportive, diverse, and enthusiastic group of listeners of all ages. At the venue, there were fans young and old, Koreans and Non-Koreans alike, who filled up the seats hours before the actual concert began. As music videos were playing for early-comers, screams and cheers of anticipation emanated throughout the building.

In the dark venue, the ARMYs also brought with them the band’s special lightstick: The ARMY Bomb, highlighting the presence of thousands of avid listeners who showed up to support the group and enjoy their music.

Estee Yi
The group’s choreography displays impeccable synchronization as they open with their song, “Idol.”

The seven idols put on a memorable performance. Opening with the title track: “IDOL” on their new album, Love Yourself: Answer, BTS started the concert off with impeccable synchronization, powerful vocals, and visually stunning graphics.  

Then, each member of the boy band expressed their distinct artistic identities through the performance of their solo songs, which each tell a unique story of their characters and personal lives.

First up was J-Hope’s exciting performance. With expressive hip-hop dance and colorful flashing lights, J-Hope expressed his love of dance and started off the string of solo songs with everyone on their feet and with the audience looking forward to the night ahead.

While the youngest member, Jungkook, sang about euphoria, the audience experienced it with him through his smooth voice and seemingly effortless choreography.

Jimin’s solo song had been a confession of love and affection, both of which were reciprocated by screams and cheers. His expressive modern dance performance showcased his flexibility and strength, as he also displayed his vocal abilities.

RM delivered an upbeat and animated performance with passionate rapping and bright lyrics, wowing the audience as they chanted and sang about the lengths one goes for love.

Suga’s solo performance expressed his “seesaw” of feelings with a striking stage presence, along with an articulate rap and expressive dance routine. His performance had been extremely dynamic and interactive as he allowed the audience to sing various verses for him.

V’s performance about the realization of solitude had a very smooth jazz melody. Like the others, his modern dance performance paired with his smooth vocals allowed for a powerful performance and indicated his well-deserved spot in the group as one of the main dancers.

Finally, Jin’s soulful performance combined striking vocals and a signature calming aura. He had the audience singing along with him as he sang about epiphany of self love and acceptance. His powerful high notes portrayed his numerous vocal abilities and he received a rousing cheer for his moving performance.

Despite their immediate arrival from a concert in Ontario, Canada, and the various interviews and pre-recordings for late night shows, the idols had been surprisingly energetic and ecstatic as they danced, sang, and interacted with fans from the stage. During their water breaks, the group stayed on stage and addressed their fans with affectionate words. They constantly involved the audience in their songs and monologues at the beginning and end of the concert, ultimately making the concert experience all about their fans.

Estee Yi
The members take their final bow at the Prudential Center in Newark as their concert comes to an end.

The ARMYs who were present at the concert are just a fraction of those that are residing in the United States and around the world, including those who attend Bronx Science. Hailing from all grades, the Bronx Science ARMYs all have a special reason for liking the K-pop group. Whether they are old fans or newer listeners, they all have opinions on BTS’ global success and their prevalence in pop culture today.

“…I’ve come to accept and love all of my flaws, even if people try to bring my hopes and dreams down.”

One Bronx Science ARMY, Linda Chen ‘21, describes BTS as, “…very unique and unlike any other [Kpop group/artist]”. This can be shown through the various record-breaking achievements that the band has accumulated since their win at the Billboard Music Awards for Top Social Artist in 2016.

“I like them because they’re really good singers and rappers. They also talk about teens and their struggles or struggles…in a way I can relate to them,” said Zannatul Ozhia ‘21.  Because all of BTS’ members entered the K-pop industry at very young ages, it is clear why the group’s messages and personal songs connect with its younger audience. Despite the fact that their lyrics are in Korean, all of their fans find them to be meaningful with strong messages of various themes.

The group’s song lyrics have been known to address various modern-day topics, including suicide, depression, self-love, and the beauty of youth, among others. Some topics are considered “taboo” in Korea but resonate with many other fans across the globe. Nevertheless, with lyric translations, many international fans are able to take these messages and connect them to their own lives. One newer fan, Timothy Yi ‘21 says that BTS’ new album, Love Yourself: Answer, has taught him a very valuable life lesson. “Jin’s solo, ‘Epiphany,’ expresses a message of loving someone beautiful: me. Although I may not be the most perfect person out there, I’ve come to accept and love all of my flaws, even if people try to bring my hopes and dreams down,” said Yi. Yi is just one of the millions of fans who feel that BTS has changed their lives for the better.

As a matter of fact, the K-pop group brought attention to the issues addressed in their songs to the United Nations as a part of the launch for the UN “Generation Unlimited” Youth Campaign; a campaign that works to ensure that all young people around the world are learning, training, being employed, or receiving education by 2030. RM, the group’s leader, gave a moving speech telling others to “speak themselves” and embrace their identity.

Samiu Chang ’20 indicates that these types of actions make BTS very influential players on the world stage. “I think BTS’ global success is really amazing. The band truly deserves their fame because of the hours of hard work and endless effort they invested in order to improve for their fans,” said Chang. “BTS…stays true to themselves and to their fans, exposing themselves to differences and embracing the diversity. Their projects in advocating self-love and recently, youth power in the UN, are examples of how they direct their influence towards important topics.” The group continues to work with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to end violence among youth.

On Saturday October 6th, 2018, the band made history as the first K-pop act to perform at a U.S. stadium as they brought the final concert in North America to the Mets Citi Field in Flushing, NY. According to various sources, including Billboard, the total attendance at the concert reached almost 50,000 people, which is a huge increase from the 20,000 fans who filled up Prudential Center in Newark. The performances seemed even more energetic and heartfelt, and everything seemed to revolve around the audience and the ARMY. 

Estee Yi
The ARMY bombs light up Citi Field as the fans wait for the encore stage at the final Love Yourself World Tour concert in North America.

After almost three hours of performance, BTS said their final farewells as they wrapped up their North American ‘Love Yourself’ Tour. As the deafening cheers spread through Flushing, Queens, the members took the final bow. One member even had tears of joy in his eyes as the scanned the stadium and the audience. The group promised to return to the US and many ARMYs are eagerly waiting for the next time that they can experience the concert’s euphoria.