In a year where all plans were marred by the coronavirus pandemic, K-pop sensation BTS found a way to connect with and enthral thousands of their fans around the globe through their Map of the Soul ON:E online concert.
The first part of the fully virtual show was livestreamed from Seoul on Saturday, with the music group — comprising RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook –reaching out to the ARMY, their fans, in an attempt to spread some cheer in these testing times.
The two-and-a-half-hour-long concert saw the septet perform 23 songs, including their multiple award-winning “ON”, “Dionysus”, “Black Swan”, “DNA”, “Boy With Luv” featuring Halsey and the Billboard Hot 100 chart topper, “Dynamite”, their first full-fledged English language single.
BTS, whose full name is Bangtan Sonyeondan (Bulletproof Boy Scouts) enjoys massive popularity across cultures as Beyond The Scene, also completed seven years in 2020 since their debut and as always, didn’t forget to thank their admirers.
“The world wasn’t easy with us when we started. They didn’t let us in so easily. But we didn’t stop. The world has more than one path. Music is our language, dream is our map. Singing different tales in different languages, we will march together until the end of time,” leader RM said.
RM, whose real name is Kim Nam-joon, said the world will find a way through this ongoing health crisis, due to which the ‘Map of the Soul’ world tour was cancelled earlier this year.
“We’ll find a way, we always have. If there’s no way, let’s draw the whole map again. We’re still connected. Even if catastrophes come, let’s believe in ourselves,” he said.
Map of the Soul ON:E was composed of the songs of the album series including Map of the Soul 7, which was released in April.
“We got an upgrade this time, through screens. Now we can see your faces and hear your voices,” Jin, whose real name is Kim Seok-jin, said.
The show offered elaborate sets and performances, which were made richer by impressive visual effects and stage management, making the viewer feel close to BTS despite geographical distances.
While the audience space at the auditorium was empty, the area was flanked by around a dozen LED screens through which thousands of fans from around the world were both visible and audible. The members too drew energy from seeing the faces and hearing the screams of their fans.
“This concert has been designed to sing along with you. You are with us on screens and we can hear you, see your passion. I hope I’ll be able to see you in person and hopefully make great memories soon,” V, whose real name is Kim Tae-hyung, said.
The three rappers — RM, Suga (Min Yoon-gi) and J-hope (Jung Ho-seok) — also hit a boxing ring as fighters battling it out while they performed the angsty “Ugh!”.
— BTS_official (@bts_bighit) October 10, 2020
Suga said the band was “concerned” whether they would be able to satisfy the ARMY with the online concert.
“But with your screams, I feel motivated. I’m sure there were things we couldn’t show you. But things we could show you because it was online. I hope this is over soon, so that we can hang out,” he said.
Besides group performances, the popular South Korean music group also let the members have their own moment in the sun through solo acts.
While RM, inarguably the most eloquent one in the band, sang the introspective “Intro: Persona”, addressing the world from a podium before matching steps with the background dancers in masks, youngest member Jeon Jungkook belted out the aspirational “My Time”.
Jimin, whose real name in Park Ji-min, romanced a mannequin as he sang the suave “Filter”, a commentary on the social media age set to Latin American pop rhythm, and Jin crooned the romantic “Moon” as he stood atop a huge moon crater on a set which seemed suspended in space.
V took the audience to a carnival and introduced them to his “younger version'” through his song “Inner Child” as they went round and round on a carousel, whereas J-hope zoomed past his contenders on a race track with the reflective “Outro: Ego”.
Suga too got to rap out another aspirational track “Interlude: Shadow”, and as the song ended the seven emerged together from the black background to sing “Black Swan”. Towards the end of the song, the fans got an extended contemporary dance performance by Jimin as he took flight like the beautiful black bird.
Later, an emotional Jimin said he missed the fans.
“This is what I’ve wanted for so long… Thanks for your support and encouragement through the screens. I hope we’ve conveyed all we’ve prepared and our earnest heart in it,” he said.
J-hope said the coolest part about the show was that it was held “real time”.
“We thought of what we could improve and prepared a lot so we can give more joy to you. I hope this will soon be over so we can see you in person.”
Jungkook said he had a great time at the virtual concert.
“This was the kind of life we were happy with. I’m not sure when I can see you again but stay safe and wear your masks,” he said.
According to the organisers, the performances were in “compliance with government guidelines on infection prevention”.
Besides the background dancers, members of the on-ground crew at the concert set were also seen wearing masks.
As the show drew to its end, the lights went out and with the deafening screams of fans growing louder a message from the group — “BTS loves ARMY” — flashed at the arena.
The second part of Map of the Soul ON:E concert will be held on Sunday.
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