It’s been a week now since I saw BTS at the Prudential Center in Newark and I am still not over it but here I am, attempting to splash words across this broke-down blog, like a poor man’s Jackson Pollack.
A little bit of a foreword: even before BTS blew up here in the States, they were a hot commodity. When I first started getting into them two winters ago, I saw that they were doing a tour for their Wings album and thought, “Oh, that would be cool to see” and looked up tickets. LOL FOR DAYS, JOKE’S ON ME. Even then, at the end of 2016, their arena shows sold out in minutes so by the time I was looking for tickets, it was Resale or GTFO.
Same thing nearly happened this time too, even though I was prepared to buy the moment they went on sale. Henry and I had four browsers open and even then the best I was able to get was right at the start of the nosebleed section, unless I wanted to spend $500 to stand on the floor and no way Chooch was going to do that with me. Also, their brand value in my life, personally, is not worth that much. I would only do that for G-Dragon/BIGBANG and Taemin/SHINee.
Still, I was happy that we were even able to get tickets because those fucking scalpers are ruthless and the seats in the section we were in were being sold for 3x the amount I spent later on. I can’t even put into words how angry this makes me. Ticketmaster needs stopped. Pearl Jam, come back!!
OK, that’s my foreword. Wasn’t it fascinating.
We left Pittsburgh at 6AM even though the concert wasn’t starting until 6PM because I didn’t want to take any chances. Plus, I got an alert saying that merch was going to be set up outside starting at 9AM and I still didn’t have a lightstick because thanks to their insane popularity, they kept selling out at all the Kpop stores online and I wasn’t trying to buy a fake.
We rolled up around 1:00PM and it was already a madhouse out there. The general admission people were camping out and there was also a two hour wait to take photos in front of this banner which I was like, “Thanks but no thanks” so I just snapped this shot while walking by and that was good enough for me.
Luckily, it only took us about 5 minutes to buy a lightstick. Nearly everything else was old out! I was sad because I wanted to buy a Hoseok (J-Hope for you non-fans) face sign but I was thankful that we were at least able to buy the lightstick, which was the brand new version that has concert mode, so it changes colors in sync with whatever seat you’re in! We had to take it over to a booth and have it set up which was super convenient. Everyone we encountered there was extremely nice and I was thankful because my pre-concert nerves were firing on all cylinders. I can’t imagine how stressed I would have been if we had to get there at the crack of dawn to sit in the General Admission line. I’m not about that life, you guys. I’m an old lady now. Assign me a seat and I will show up approx. 30 minutes before the show starts, thanks.
When we went to see G-Dragon last year, I have the Silver VIP ticket which meant we got to arrive early for the soundcheck and standing in that line to get a numbered wristband shaved years off of my life. I had stress cramps in my stomach, I was sweating, I was wringing my hands – plus, we got screwed with the numbering system which I don’t even want to talk about again, but at least in the end it worked out and we were nearly right at the barricade. G-Dragon was worth that hassle for me. I like BTS a lot, but I can’t imagine having to deal with the horde of Armys down there on the floor.
After purchasing our lightstick (it was $55 so, um, we bought one to share, thanks; I might work at a law firm but I definitely don’t make a lawyer’s salary, lol), we checked into our hotel and got a late lunch, then it was finally time for Papa H to drop us off at the Prudential Center. I was screaming!!
Unlike KCON, we were able to practically waltz right in to the P-Center for this one, and I thought, “Wow, this is going swimmingly” until we got to the escalator that would take us to the 100 Section of the arena and some staff broad was all, “NO. YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE ELEVATOR” and we were like, “…..” so we followed some other people to the elevator bank where a large crowd was gathering and we were herded on to elevators like cattle – it was weird and also scary because I don’t like elevators and why couldn’t we have just used the steps!?
Meanwhile, you could hear music thumping and the shrill screams of Armys filtering out from inside the dome and I actually felt scared that the concert started early, but then when we got off the elevator, I peeked in and saw that it was literally just BTS videos playing on two screens and girls screaming like BTS was actually on stage. That was a good indication of what we were in for.
We were row 7 in Section 101, which was directly in front of the stage and not too bad for the price, pretty much the same area we always get dumped in for KCON too though. When we found our row, Chooch walked in first and then stopped at the first seat that was ours instead of continuing on to the next one.
“I don’t like sitting next to people,” he mumbled, and I had to climb over him to get to my seat, which was next to a very overweight lady and I feel like an asshole even complaining about this because we had great rapport and she was very nice, but between her spilling into my seat and Chooch man-spreading on the other side of me, I had an extremely uncomfortable night. My neighbor had me pinned back into my seat with her arm, but then halfway through the night, she needed to stretch her knees so she stood up and perched on the edge of her seat and it was like the heavens had opened up for me. Also, she laughed like Santa through the whole concert, which was satisfying and comforting.
My asshole son had an empty seat next to him for a large portion of the night before some lone Asian girl eventually sat there and quietly recording the whole concert without moving or screaming once. He was living his best concert life and I hated him.
Before the concert started, we listened to the girls behind us trying to explain BTS videos to their friend who was excited to be there but didn’t know much about BTS. She kept screaming, “TEACH ME THE FAN CHANTS!” throughout the night and it was so adorable. Her friend acted like she was some sort of BTS historian and said that the order of the names varied depending on the song and in my head I was like, “No they don’t” but then the other girl who was with them calmly interjected and said, “No, they’re always the same order” and I was proud of her for saying it in a way that sounded diplomatic and mature and not Reese Witherspoon in “Election”-y like I always sound when I’m butting in with the correct answer.
Henry hates it when I do that to strangers.
But in case you don’t know what I’m talking about, in Kpop (all Kpop not just for BTS), there are fan chants where everyone chants the members’ names in unison, and also depending on the song, there might be parts that everyone is expected to shout, usually just the last word of certain lines, you know? For BTS, the member fan chant starts with Kim Namjoon (the leader RM’s real name) and then goes from order of the oldest member and down to the youngest (the maknae), and you use their real Korean names and not their stage names. It always sounds easy in my head but I can never get the timing right and then I get nervous can’t do it fast enough!
Kpop is so great.
Anyway, the concert started almost exactly at 6PM, which seemed really early but again, I’m old now so this early start was appealing to me.
This is the part where I’m a basket of emotions, so I’m not sure what to even write because I can’t be objective about it. But I will say that I’m not sure how anyone could have walked out of that arena unfazed by the charms of those beautiful Koreans. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Parents Who Got Stuck Chaperoning. Their entrance was dramatic, as expected, and the show was kicked off with a high-energy performance of “Idol.”
This is not my video – I was sitting too far up to get any good vids so I only took some short clips to send to Henry throughout the night which he GREATLY APPRECIATED especially when it was a close-up of his bias Jimin:
And you guys, it was here during their opening song when I was overcome with emotion and realized that I was fucking shaking with tears streaming down my face. I mean, I have liked BTS for almost as long as I’ve been into Kpop, but never to the point where I would call myself Army (that’s the name of their fan group, I don’t think I ever really explained that) because Armys are really insane and possessive of BTS and also most of them frown upon multi-fandoms which basically means, “I like BTS but I also like these other groups too.” You can’t do that, and I’m sorry but I’m VIP (BIGBANG fan) above all else!
Still, I have always loved BTS for their charisma (their personalities are awesome) and sick choreography (a lot of it is done by J-Hope, my bias, who got his start as a street dancer). BTS were the true underdogs in Kpop, they were met with real adversity from the moment they debuted and pretty much all the way up to last year when they started to break into the Western market, which was the biggest fuck you they could have given their haters. So while it’s mildly annoying that all of a sudden everyone and their soccer mom is blasting “Idol” in their minivan (probably the Nicki Minaj version at that), I can’t help but feel a sense of pride for them, you know? They struggled and received so much hate from their peers and Koreans in general for speaking out against the older generation and social issues, and now they’re basking in the limelight — but they earned it. And they deserve it.
However, a lot of other Kpop groups, and Korean artists in general, also work just as hard and are just as talented. So please give them love too, America!
LOL, I took these pictures for Henry during Jimin’s solo.
Oh! When we arrived at our seats, there were banners waiting for us. They were made by a group of Armys and during “Magic Shop,” a prompt came up on the screen to tell us all to hold them up so that BTS could see how much they mean to us. It was really cool and I loved being a part of it!
Oh shit, I’m crying just thinking about this, haha.
I recorded a bit of Taehyung’s solo for Janna because that’s her bias, lol. (I forced her to choose one and prefaced it with, “but you can’t pick J-Hope or Jimin, because Henry and I already claimed them.” Lol, I’m a good friend.)
- Save Me
- I’m Fine
- Magic Shop
- Trivia: Just Dance (J-Hope solo)
- Euphoria (Jung Kook solo)
- I Need You
- Serendipity (Jimin solo)
- Trivia: Love (RM solo)
- Medley: Boyz With Fun/Fire/Bapsae/Dope
- Airplane Pt 2
- Singularity (V solo)
- Fake Love
- Trivia: Seesaw (Suga solo)
- Epiphany (Jin solo)
- The Truth Untold (V, Jimin, Jungkook, Jin)
- Outro: Tear (RM, J-Hope, Suga)
- Mic Drop
- So What
- Answer: Love Myself
Songs I wish they had performed:
- Go Go (they did this during night one, ugh!)
- Spring Day
Rather than spend this whole sunny October Sunday ruminating over every single song performed, I will tell you my favorite parts in no particular order because it changes with the same frequency as my moods.
- Save Me – this was the song where BTS really clicked for me. Before that, I knew their songs, but I wasn’t on board with both feet yet. When I first saw the video for this song though, I realized halfway through that I was crying. And yes, I cried during it last week too!
2. Dope – this song gets me so hyped! It’s an older one, and one of my favorite kpop cardio routines is to this song.
3. Jin’s solo – with so much talent in one group, some of the members tend to be overshadowed at times, but this solo is a big fat reminder that Jin’s out here, and he’s ready to sing his beautiful fucking worldwide handsome face off. I was sobbing by the time this ended.
4. Jungkook’s Gratuitous Shirt-Lifting: I’ve seen him do this a million times during the promotional run for Fake Love, but getting to be there in that arena and screaming my throat raw with all the other girls when it happened in real life was amazing.
5. The “Love Myself” finale – singing this along with them was like the next generation Kumbaya without the corn. These boys promote such a positive, inspiring message and they truly just want us all to be kind and love ourselves.
Again, not my video. I just don’t have the stamina to devote so much time to camping out and standing around idly just to get that close at a concert (though check back with me in a few years after BIGBANG has their post-military comeback). It reminds me of back during the summer of 2001: I had tickets to go to the Rolling Rock Town Fair with this guy Ken, and my friend Wonka really wanted to go but it was sold out. Stone Temple Pilots were headlining that year, so tickets were hard to get. I was sad that Wonka couldn’t go because I didn’t know this Ken guy that well and it was awkward as fuck, to be honest. But then as we were leaving that night, we passed right by Wonka! I told him I was so happy that he was able to get a ticket after all, and he said he didn’t actually get a ticket but he went out to the field where the festival was taking place the night before and hid in a porta potty ALL NIGHT LONG until the next day after the concert started. That is some fucking dedication. Would I sleep in a porta potty for BIGBANG? That depends: is it clean?
I was on a fucking high for days after this and just kept saying over and over that I couldn’t believe I got to see BTS. Kpop has changed my life, as dorky as that sounds, and I am so grateful for the beautiful people and experiences it has given to me. It’s the best medicine. (Too bad insurance doesn’t cover it because shit’s expensive.)
In all honesty, every single second of this concert was a goddamn delight. Chooch was a bit less into it than I was and admitted afterward that he didn’t know many of the songs, but that now he thinks he at least knows all of the members’ names.
“Wow, even your DAD knows all their names,” I said.
“Sorry that I don’t study Kpop groups like dad does!” Chooch scoffed.
Henry is definitely more Army than Chooch.