BTS Gives Their L.A. A.R.M.Y. Something To Fight For [REVIEW] REVIEW: BTS Live Trilogy Episode III The Wings Tour” @ Honda Center 4/2/17
Anaheim, CA- Chart slaying, Korean “boy band” BTS has officially solidified their title as the global sensation to beat. They’ve been recognized by Billboard, iHeartRadio, Buzzfeed, and Teen Vogue among others for their danceable chart toppers, mesmerizing choreography, and lyrical storytelling. Making up the award winning boy band are Rap Monster (leader/rapper), Suga (rapper), J-Hope (rapper/dancer), Jimin (vocalist/dancer), Jungkook (vocalist/dancer), and last but not least, vocalists Jin and V. Together the group has earned global fame in only a matter of 4 short years.
BTS’ global success is due in large part to their die-hard fans. Affectionally referred to as their “A.R.M.Y.”, they are the tens of thousands of BTS fans worldwide who sold out the group’s entire 9 arena tour. The connection between BTS and their fans is palpable to say the least. After swimming through a sea of A.R.M.Y. decked out in BTS gear chanting along to pre-show music videos, I finally found my seat at the Honda Center. The amount of excitement bottled up in the stadium was incredible.
As the lights dimmed and the curtains dropped, A.R.M.Y.’s voice swelled to unfathomable levels. A crazed Beatles-esque frenzy erupted as the seven members of BTS, taking center stage with a bold confidence, were unveiled for all to admire. The fan intensity so was overwhelming that even the Honda Center employees that I spoke with described the audience as being one of the most crazed they had ever seen. I suppose you’d have a lot of energy too if you’d been camping out since 12am to get a good seat for the sold out show (yup, that’s what I heard).
BTS brought the house down from the start. It began with the explosive bass line of their newest hit “Not Today”. Clearly, sitting at this show was not going to be an option. Together with their 18,000+ A.R.M.Y., BTS performed a set that consisted of all of their chart topping hits. “Am I Wrong” followed by throwbacks “Silver Spoon” and “DOPE” served as the perfect preface before transitioning into each member’s solo songs. This was when things start to get a little hot and heavy.
The solo performances mirrored the order on their album; Jungkook was first to take the stage. With the venue masked entirely in darkness, a piercing spotlight revealed him being lifted into the air, center stage, ready to “Begin”. The dramatic entrance was followed by an even more dramatic performance, which was highlighted by the youngest member’s unapologetically smooth dance moves.
As the heat from Jungkook’s performance raised temperatures in the audience, Jimin turned it up a notch by performing “Lie”. His performance, in my humble opinion, was perhaps one of the sexiest performances by a K-pop idol I have seen – EVER. I’m certain that any A.R.M.Y. there that night would attest. Now give me a second while I wipe the sweat off my brow …
Dancing suggestively across the stage he donned a loose silk shirt and sequin jacket, which reflected crimson beams of light flooding the stage. But the tipping point came during the bridge of the song where I couldn’t help but squeal as he was lifted into the air and spun around, all while singing the sweetest melodies and climaxing hook.
Following Jimin, BTS’ most reserved member, Suga, took center stage. Usually a man of few words and reactions, Suga wore his heart on his sleeve; something that we usually never get to see. During his solo rap “First Love”, his emotions poured out as he sang of his childhood struggles and doubts. We all got a little glimpse of his soul when he rapped about his feelings of loss, love, regret and acceptance, which definitely had me feeling some type of way.
Leader of the group, Rap Monster, continued the sentimental journey with his solo song “Reflection” about the inner conflict he’s had to struggle with on his personal quest to find his own identity. As he repeated the lyrics “I wish I could love myself” over and over again, A.R.M.Y. chanted “I love you” after every line.
Shifting the mood, BTS then went into a hyped version of “BTS Cypher 4” performed by rap line J-Hope, Suga, and Rap Monster. Ironically, the tag line of this song was “I love myself”, definitely hyping up the crowd. The group continued with a few more upbeat bangers when vocal line Jin, Jungkook, Jimin, and V came out for “Lost”. Screaming came from all directions as they displayed alluring choreography and fan service to those in the pit section. This is the only time when camping out since 12am actually pays off. The vocal performances by all three were beyond impressive, but when V hits his high notes in “Stigma”, you could literally feel A.R.M.Y. collectively hold its breath.
All the emotions that were pulled from V’s performance of “Stigma” continued when J-Hope, normally the “happy vitamin” of BTS , sang “Mama” an ode to his mom for all the unconditional love and support she has given him. When J-Hope shed a tear, A.R.M.Y. bawled with him. Heartstring were pulled even tighter with with a montage of childhood photos were projected on the screens surrounding the stage.
The sentimental journey continued into Jin’s performance of “Awake”. Most of the time we don’t get to hear Jin’s vocal talent because he doesn’t receive as many solo lines as his band mates, but with the way he belted out his song, he certainly made a case for more time in the spotlight.
Topping off the incredible night of K-Pop, BTS exploded toward the finish line with inspired performances of “2! 3!”, “Spring Day”, “Wings”, and a medley of their throwbacks. You could see how focused each member was in giving the audience the best of what they had. Knowing that this concert was their last stop of the tour, they sang, danced and delighted their A.R.M.Y. till the end before assuring everybody that they would “be back soon” and to “never forget BTS”.
Even after the group left the stage, fans continued chanting “BTS” while illuminating the venue with a rainbow ocean of synchronized glow sticks. It was a beautiful exchange of love and support for a K-pop boy-band, solidifying my earlier position that BTS is simply on another level with their A.R.M.Y.. Based off this entire performance, BTS showed us that they can be much more than just hype and high energy. They’re intense, sentimental, sensitive, and insanely passionate artists as well. Multifaceted and ready to take on any competitors in the K-pop industry, BTS undoubtedly delivered and proved to their A.R.M.Y. that there something to keep fighting for.
A SoCal native who loves experiencing live music of all kinds. Usually versed in PR, she works to expand her horizons as a journalist, and activist for creative expression. Check her out on social media @hernameisiris~