On Friday, May 26 Aussie ARMYs had the chance to make memories watching their favourite band live in concert. People travelled from across Australia – and even from New Zealand – to see BTS perform live at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, for the BTS Live Trilogy Episode III: The Wings Tour. For some, this would be their first concert ever; for some, their tenth; and for some, their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the group they love.
The energy before the concert was incredible, with people lining up and filling the arena with ARMY Bombs (the official BTS lightstick), posters, and even some altruistic fans giving out free merchandise and photos of their favourite members.
This isn’t the first time BTS have come to Australia; they performed at the UNSW Roundhouse back in June 2015, as part of their Red Bullet tour. However, since then, their popularity has skyrocketed, especially very recently with their win at the BBMAs. Tickets to this concert were sold out within hours, and the crowd was six times the size of their 2015 concert. The only other K-pop act to have drawn these numbers was Big Bang in 2015.
From the very beginning of this BTS concert, energy was abuzz in the arena. ARMY everywhere were dressed up in official BTS merchandise, with light-up headbands, posters and slogans ready; singing along to the BTS songs blasting in the arena to hype everyone up. When the opening VCR started – a cinematic experience akin to a short film – the cheers were deafening.
The curtain dropped, revealing the seven members standing on stage, as they launched straight into "Not Today," a song with an intense beat and even more intense choreography. They were dressed in simple silver jackets and black ripped pants, and charisma exuded from each and every member – their experience and professionalism on the stage evident. You could feel the music thumping through your whole body; the bass reverberating in your chest, as the performance reached its peak.
“G’day mate,” Rap Monster said in their first address of the night, as everybody screamed their lungs out. “Welcome to BTS 2017 Live Trilogy Episode III: The Wings Tour live in Sydney!”
Suga stared at the camera for a long time before he addressed everyone, soaking in the attention. “I’m...Suga!” Everyone cheered. Cue satisfied grin.
Jin, when introducing himself, said, “Hello, I’m worldwide handsome,” referencing the #thirdguyfromtheleft trend sparked by the BBMAs, where in a subsequent interview he declared himself ‘worldwide handsome’.
Jungkook smiled and waved. “Nice to meet you guys, I’m Jungkook.”
J-Hope was more playful with the fans, shouting, “I’m your hope, you’re my hope, I’m J?” He pointed his microphone to the audience. “HOPE!” they shouted back.
“Hello!” Jimin gave a heart-stopping smile and waved. “I’m Jimin. Long time no see everyone. Make some noise! Finally we came back to Sydney!”
“Hey,” J-Hope added. “Did you miss BTS?” Affirmative yelling, screaming, tears everywhere, world imploding, etc. It’s been two long years of waiting for BTS to come back to Australia, and for some, this moment is the highlight of 2017.
Keeping the lively atmosphere up, the boys jumped into another upbeat song, "Am I Wrong," followed by "Silver Spoon" - Jimin, ever the tease, kept throwing the shoulder of his jacket off during and J-Hope had an extended dance break, impressing everyone with his moves. The last of the trio was "Dope." Jungkook made a heart for the very end pose, as the lights dimmed and a VCR played, signalling the beginning of some solo stages.
Standing in the middle of the stage, a lone spotlight on him – Jungkook, the youngest of the group, performed his solo "Begin," a song about the other members and how they’ve supported him since he started his singing journey at the young age of 15. He wore a glittering black jacket coupled with a plain white shirt, and showed off impressively intricate footwork while singing perfectly live.
Next up was Jimin with his solo, "Lie." He wore a silver-patterned jacket with a silver tank top, which accentuated the fluidity of his movements as he danced. What struck me most is how intense Jimin is when he’s performing. He almost does a complete flip from the cute smiling image he presents when he greeted the crowd, his expression instantly becoming serious. He moves with a precise and powerful yet fluid ease, commanding the stage. At one point of the performance, the backup dancers put a black blindfold on him, and I’m pretty sure everyone in the venue lost their minds, if the screaming was indicative of anything. A chandelier dropped down, setting the almost seductive mood of the song even more.
The stage cleared and a string quartet appeared alongside a brown piano, as Suga performed his solo, "First Love," which speaks honestly about his relationship with music and what it means to him, referencing the brown piano he played when he was eight – his first foray into music. It was an emotional performance, with live strings and live piano.
A costume change, and the vocalists (Jungkook, Jimin, V, Jin) came on with their unit song "Lost," where they moved to the centre of the stage and interacted with fans standing in the mosh-pit. This was a fun and light performance, despite the lyrics being quite sentimental. Jungkook was wearing a red hoodie with the word ‘DELIGHT’ emblazoned on the front.
They went straight into "Save Me," where the rest of the members joined, and then into their 2015 hit song "I Need U" – the start of their winning streak, as this was the song they won their first ever number one with, on The Show ,and then went on to bag number ones at every major music program.
The second set of solo stages started with another well-produced VCR headlining Rap Monster’s solo, "Reflection;" an honest dive into the insecurities and troubles he faces, and a candid discussion on mental illness. The stage setup for was incredible. It was an artful experience, paired perfectly with Rap Monster’s rapping. Whenever he sang the lyrics, “I wish I could love myself,” Aussie ARMYs shouted back, “We love you!” Absolutely heartwarming. He walked up the stairs, into a telephone booth at the top of the elevated stage, and the stage went dark.
Immediately, V’s solo song "Stigma" came on, and he appeared from the telephone box Rap Monster had just disappeared into. "Stigma" is a classy song; the smooth neo-soul vibe and V’s falsetto completely entrancing the audience, and the videos were projected on the stage in black and white, reminiscent of a smokey 70s jazz dive bar. The stage was practically a three-minute seduction showing off V’s vocal range and unique musical sensibilities, which are sometimes lost in the group songs.
Jumping straight into J-Hope’s solo, "MAMA," which he performed on the centre stage. MAMA is a song about the love he has for his mum, yet it’s an upbeat celebratory song as opposed to a typical slow moving ballad. As he was giving his energetic performance, a video played in the background of all of J-Hope’s childhood photos – adorable.
Finally, the oldest member of the group had his time to shine. Jin performed his solo "Awake," which is a bittersweet song. It was a fantastic and heartfelt performance.
Lifting the atmosphere, the rappers had their unit stage with hot track "Cypher Part 4." Each of them were wearing velvet jackets, and blew up the stage with the song's sheer energy and aggressive hype. Everyone got out of their seats to jam and chant along to the rapping.
Then came "Fire," an energetic and dance-heavy song. It was about time they took a break (they’d been singing and dancing non-stop for about an hour now, how do they do it!?), so they stood on the centre stage and waved as they rehydrated. There was a pile of money a fan had thrown on stage during their Cypher performance, and J-Hope picked it up gleefully, and sang the chorus of "Blood, Sweat & Tears" (“wonhae manhi manhi”), a play on the Korean word for ‘a lot’ (manhi), which is sounds like the English ‘money.’ V also joined in on the fun, picking up the paper money and staring intently to see if it was valid currency (it wasn’t). They riled up the audience, encouraging us to make some noise, with Suga shouting “Louder!” as the stadium burst into cheers.
This next stage was a mash-up of their title songs from debut. Using the full stage, all the members ran around to the very ends of the extensions to interact with fans as they performed, in succession, "N.O," "No More Dream," "Boy In Luv," "Danger," and "Run." It was a nostalgic trip back in time for ARMYs who had been there from the very beginning.
A fun song next, with "21st Century Girl." The butt-slapping was out of control, and they joked around playfully for this one, performing the song in a more casual way as opposed to the tight choreography they usually show.
The stage went dark, and J-Hope shone as he performed his dance solo with "Intro: Boy Meets Evil." Transitioning straight into "Blood Sweat & Tears," the last official song of the line-up. The chic pastel pink jackets and black pants combo made them glow onstage. The choreography of this song is no easy feat, yet they still gave it 110%, despite having been onstage for close to two hours. Jungkook’s upper body control is seriously impressive, as he was practically doing handstand push-ups during the chorus (you know what I’m talking about).
They finished, bowed, and left the stage, but of course, they couldn’t end it there. For five minutes, Aussie ARMYs chanted and cheered “BTS, BTS, BTS!” to encourage them back onstage for their encore, and sure enough they came back on stage to perform three more songs, starting with "Outro: Wings." At one point, they crowded around the camera on the centre stage, with the image projected onto the screens like an intimate one-on-one performance.
Finally, Rap Monster acknowledged the fan project that Australian ARMYs put their effort into – slogans with lyrics from Whalien 52 printed across them (“let’s spread our voice as far as we can”), which everyone held up during the encore. “I was really happy to enjoy the show with you guys tonight,” he said. “Let’s see how our BTS members feel today, one by one each. Mr. Alien?”
V had a wind machine blowing right on his hair, and he waved in all directions. “Hello! The time went too fast, too sad. I wish this concert doesn’t end forever, you too?” At this point Jimin, laughing, came to pat down V’s fringe. V said his goodbyes, and threw a heart at the audience.
Next was Jimin. “Here, I feel so much love!” Jimin said. “I feel inspired by your love. Thank you!” and he brought the microphone far away from his mouth and screamed, “I love you!” into it.
“Sydney always gives me beautiful memories,” Suga continued. “Even today. Today’s memory will be forever in my heart! See you again soon. Thank you so much Sydney. Aussies, I love you.” He blew a kiss at the audience.
Jungkook brought the mic to his mouth and paused for a really long time before he said, “I really hope to see you again soon. We live far far away, but don’t forget that we are always together.” He wore a little grin at the reaction those words brought. “Thank you so much. That will happen now, because of you! You, you, you, you!” He pointed in all directions of the crowd as he spun around on stage. “Legit!” Suga added; a fun Aussie phrase that Australian ARMYs taught them. The rest of them echoed it playfully.
“Thank you to all the ARMY who came today,” J-Hope said. “You’re our wings.” He spread his arms to symbolise his words. “And I think we will soar because of you. Let’s all fly even higher, together.”
Jin started smirking again as he referred to himself as “worldwide handsome”. “I’m happy to be here tonight with all of you. I feel like I am born again. So many hearts in here, and I have a heart too!” He pulled down his sleeve dramatically to reveal a heart-shaped bracelet made of red material around his right wrist. “And one more here!” Then he pulled down his left sleeve to reveal a heart cut-out in red material. “It’s my heart,” he finished, as he blew his dramatic signature kiss into the audience. “Oh, I don’t think it was caught on camera,” he said in Korean, as he requested the camera to focus on him, and he blew the kiss again.
Back to Rap Monster. “Tonight is very special to us because this is, today, in Sydney, is our first show after our Billboard Music Awards.” The stadium burst into uproarious cheering. “You know, I must say that you guys live in such a beautiful country,” he said while putting on an Australian accent. “I went to the Opera House yesterday, and I saw people sitting on the grass, and the sea and the wind – it was so, so legit. So if I can’t live in Korea I want to live in Australia. Since I have a few cousins and friends living here, maybe I’ll be come back.”
Unfortunately, the time came to wrap up the concert. “We hope we can share laughter and cry together from now on,” Rap Monster said. “I just wanna ask you one more thing. Will our Aussie ARMYs walk together with BTS from now on?” Everyone screamed back, “Yes!” He smiled. “With all our hearts, this is our last song. Let’s go!”
He was referring to their special fan song, "2! 3!." While most other groups’ fan songs are quite bright and cheery, "2! 3!" is more sentimental and bittersweet, yet also hopeful and encouraging (the lyrics being, “It's okay, when I count one two three, forget it all. Erase all the sad memories. Hold each other's hands and smile.”) It’s a song which wishes for better days for both BTS, and all the fans who support them. The stadium reverberated as ARMYs shouted out, “hana, dul, set!” (“one, two, three”) in time with the song, as part of the fan chant.
Off the jackets came, and they ran around the stage as they performed their actual last song, "Spring Day." They went hard on the interaction with this one as it segued into an ending instrumental track, and each of the members ran down the stage extensions to make sure everybody managed to see each and every one of them up close. They bowed, blew kisses to the crowds, to the cameras, squatted down along various parts of the stage to get even closer to the fans, and lingered on stage, waving and saying thanks to the fans as they actually wrapped up the concert.
Remembering back to their 2015 concert, BTS have certainly grown as performers and artists. It’s not easy to keep the energy up for such a long time onstage, and still give it 100 per cent, yet they delivered on all fronts.
It’s difficult going through a post-concert slump (as I’m sure many of you are currently experiencing!) but to all the Aussie ARMYs, let’s cheer them on and continue to support them in their endeavours as we patiently wait for concert number three!
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