As of this writing, BTS has wrapped on two back-to-back live shows at Seoul Olympic Stadium. I haven’t seen official numbers released yet but the band mentioned during today’s performance that they’d heard that at least 800,000 people had bought tickets, and I imagine most of them bought tickets for both shows. I know I did.
These concerts, part of BTS’s Muster, were a celebration of BTS’s eighth anniversary, a tradition they observe with their ARMY and typically, Musters are different from their tour shows. For the uninitiated, when BTS is on tour, pre-COVID, they still produce elaborate Muster performances, with totally different setlists and new choreography. Which speaks to their work ethic – because they were travelling around the world, putting on three hour shows several times a week and still rehearsing for an entirely different series of shows for their fan meetings.
This Muster, however, happened during the pandemic so the concerts this weekend were a hybrid of what you’d see on their tours and what they’d do, sort of, during their typical Musters. The set, for example, was built to scale for the venue with a galaxy theme, an infinity symbol stage, all kinds of pyro, and a full team of backup dancers. In addition, since it was virtual, thousands (it seemed) of screens were set up in areas where fans would usually be, like the mosh pit, streaming fan faces live so that the artists could see their fans’ reactions in real time. Fan cheers were also recorded and played during key moments in songs so that you could hear fans singing along with the lyrics. So they continue push the limits of what these live shows can be with the realities of the pandemic. You can see a shot of the stage in the tweet below. And also… their nod to Pride!
This is why people show up for them – they know they’ll be rewarded with effort. Here’s a quick example: BTS had promised that both shows would be different, that different songs would be performed. Between the first and second show, I’d say that difference was about 25%, which is not insignificant considering that that 25% meant that the actual staging and choreography changed. On the first day, there was a “Korean swagger” section to the show, featuring Suga’s solo smash hit “Daechwita” and the stage set up to look like an old time Korean village, inspired by the scenes in the music video, with his six bandmates kicking off the performance and jumping in on his track. “Daechwita” transitioned into their classic “IDOL”, and its tribute to Korean sounds and musicality. For the second day though, and the “World Tour” version of the show, the “Daechwita” section was replaced by j-hope’s solo smash “Chicken Noodle Soup” with Becky G. That set was also constructed to be like the music video for “Chicken Noodle Soup” – streetstyle freestyle, graffiti, and convertibles brought on stage driving around the infinity symbol and all members joining Hobi for the performance.
This is a major bonus for fans, to hear songs that aren’t normally performed during tours, to see them join in on songs that they normally don’t participate in. And, of course, to see them support each other’s work. That, for me, is the hook. I love that Jin, Jimin, V, and Jungkook want so badly to do what the official rappers in the band do. I love that they want to try – and I love that they are encouraged to try, that they embrace and share with each other their personal works, driving home further the point that while, certainly, BTS is a collective of seven, they have throughout the years been able to grow and learn as individuals, which makes the whole that much stronger. To the point now where they’ve literally built an empire, as their label is now a major force in the entertainment industry, not just in South Korea but in the west too, as HYBE has now acquired Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison to the changes in the show between both days.
From a work perspective then, it means that RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook couldn’t rest from yesterday to today. Because once they wrapped on yesterday’s show, they would have had to make sure they were ready for the new section in today’s show. But that’s a muscle they’ve developed well over the last eight years. They may not have had to use it much in 2020 but, clearly, reactivating it wasn’t a problem. As they become more and more popular, with so much media now just waking up to their dominance, this is the kind of knowledge that continues to go underappreciated beyond their fandom. We should find out today whether or not “Butter” can repeat at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Yours in gossip,