“Happiness is not something that you have to achieve. You can still feel happy during the process of achieving something.”
~ Kim Namjoon
There’s only one way to sum up this entire experience before you delve deep into this article.
One word. Ineffable.
This may be one of my favorite posts to write, if not the favorite. May there be more down the road because this was truly a once in a lifetime experience. It was one of those times where you are so looking forward to that moment, that when it finally happens, you’re in utter awe. The event is so surreal that even when you’re in the middle of it happening, you can’t believe it’s happening. That’s what seeing BTS on stage was like.
That’s all I can sum it to. An ineffable experience that I will treasure forever. It started as a mere hope of going to see them; for any avid ARMY, or KPop fan for that matter, knows that just getting a ticket is a tough ordeal. A fight over the keys with a mass network set up, all to catch tickets in under 90 seconds. The victorious emerge with their virtual tickets, celebrating with sweet relief and joy. But that’s just the beginning.
My hope started while I was still in Shanghai in February. Yes, I was an ocean away, but still intent. I planned on queuing for each time zone in the USA for a chance to see them—it didn’t matter what cost. Of course, there was the time difference. So, when the tickets went on sale at local times, it was the middle of the night for me—on a workday. Nevertheless, I stayed up, coffee in hand, from 22:00 to 3:00. I had my family on the east coast battling with me in efforts to claim tickets—this was not a game!
I waited ever hopeful as sales moved from New Jersey to Chicago. I had not managed tickets yet and was growing tired. I almost said forget it. I am tired. I have to get up for work. You’re not getting tickets. Just go to sleep. But, Lord willing! A spur of energy came in the middle of night and I decided to keep my butt up and battle for these tickets.
For a long time, my queue circled for the LA date; but then the selection opened. When I tell you, those tickets were flying once I entered the seating selection. To my benefit, I managed a ticket and not just any ticket—ground floor, right next to the stage! I had a Holy Ghost moment right there in bed at 3:00 something in the morning. When you go to concerts, any seat is great, but if I had to fly across country, it would be great to near the stage. I wanted a memorable experience where I could see everything up close; which is exactly what I got. The only thing that could have been better was going behind stage.
Jump forward a couple of months. The end of April found me coming back home to Florida and that very next weekend was the concert. So, I was barely home a full week before flying back across the country to the other coast for the concert. Flying across the country with me was my partner in crime, my sister. A spur of the moment thing. So, while I was spazzing out in the concert, she was taking LA by storm.
Now before flying out, there were still a few things to do to ensure, everything would go well for the night of the concert and our whole stay in LA. One, being hotel stay. Two, being flights and transportation. For this short excursion, my sister and I stayed at the Hilton Los Angeles to be close to the Rose Bowl Stadium and rented a car. Flights were pricey since we flew during the weekend, but a fan’s gotta do what a fan’s gotta do.
Skip to May 4. It’s concert time! The whole while up to this day, I was rather calm. In fact, my excitement didn’t hit until the moment I left for the stadium. The time had finally come! The moment was now! A quick fifteen-minute drive and I found myself in the center of my people.
Of course, you had to arrive early and even with arriving early, the crowds were immense! Merchandise lines wrapped around the lots. A food area provided Starbucks, bubble tea, pizza and more. All around, you could see ARMY. There were also foreign media outlets mixed with local stations. One of the most warming sights was seeing that the crowd was so diverse—all ages, ethnicities, races, language. Everyone was so amicable. If you haven’t realized from my story so fa, I was going solo. I arrived and knew absolutely no one but walked away not only meeting people local to LA but those who had also traveled as I did from other states.
Did I mention that my floor tickets came with VIP entry and sound check? Two wristbands and a lanyard later, I was in line for the sound check entry by 16:00. Phones were prohibited during this time, so I can only relay this moment.
When I entered the stadium, it was like all the excitement hit me at once. This exploded when I found my seat. During soundcheck, I was already spazzing out over the equipment. As an AV nerd, I was dying to get behind the board and check out all of the specs, see what cameras they were using, how they were running lines, the multimedia setup and more. Media and technology technicians are the unsung heroes behind the concert stage. But I had to remember I wasn’t there for the AV system. I was there for my boyz.
After the long wait, all the ramped-up anticipation was finally released when BTS came out. They were there in person! And as I heard a fellow ARMY say, Oh, my God they’re real!
Undoubtedly, they had already completed a soundcheck, before doing soundcheck with the fans. Still, while it wasn’t even concert time, they catered to fans, greeting us, waving and getting hyped. They ran through three songs before returning behind stage. Few hours remained until the actual concert.
Since we were permitted early entry, we were allowed to stay in the stadium until the start time. During my wait, I munched on popcorn and sipped pink lemonade, watching all of the BTS music videos that ran over the screens. It was like going down memory lane. As more fans entered later, you could feel the electricity in the air. Fan chants started while the mv’s played before the concert actually started! As the time closed in on 19:30, all you could hear was BTS! BTS! BTS! in unison!
The sound that erupted when the lights went off and BTS hit the stage, was deafening. ARMY came with a war cry that announced to everyone near and far who was present. To be amongst the crowd, literally at the center, was unbelievable. I couldn’t even hear my own screams. I’m sure many lost lungs that night from singing and screaming along. You have to love the fandom, though. The energy did not subsist the whole night. Chants were going. Bombs were waving. And a literal wave went through the stadium during intermissions.
BTS was excellence on stage! It’s impossible to encapsulate the whole performance. The entire set was incredible, start to finish. There was no looking away. From the dancing to the singing. Jungkook being a literal angel soaring over fans. V coning with “Singularity.” JHope killing every move. Suga tearing up every beat. Jimin being princely. Jin charming the stage. RM being the awesome leader that he is. The solo sets. The rap line. The vocal line. Everything was wonderful and brilliantly woven together with awesome media displays.
Unexpectedly, there were water cannons—having glasses, that didn’t quite mix well and thank goodness for a reliable wig. But hey, why not? Water, flames, petals, bouncy houses. No element was left out. A few other unexpected happenings were JHope wrecking bias list. He came for it strong and hard! Minor sound issues did not ruin anything for me (of course, RM as proficient as he is, apologized for it.) Seeing them in person was perfect enough. They showed out and did not disappoint.
Being right next to the stage, I was able to see the dancers and some of the members go in and out of the trenches. (Side note: the backup dancers are legit). It was too much to take in, trying to see everything without missing anything. I nearly died seeing Suga within four feet of me, getting ready to go up on stage. Yes, Suga is my bias. So, it will come as no surprise, though while, I loved all of the sets, “Seesaw” and “Outro: Tear” were my highlights.
Honestly, it didn’t even feel like two and half hours. I was on my feet the entire time! Come 22:00 I was ready for more; although, I knew it had to come to an end. Each of the members gave their farewells and thanks before their final exit off stage.
I am so grateful to have seen BTS live! This moment will be with me forever! I regret no loss of sleep in traveling and getting tickets. After this experience, I’m excited and can’t wait for next time—because oh, there will definitely be a next time. I will be even better prepared with an eye-catching concert outfit, glasses cleaner and other gadgets.
Hopefully, I’ll have future opportunities to share my excitement from such an indescribable experience.
P.S. All photos and video, from yours truly. MVP goes out to the security guard who told other security guards to duck their heads for fans so we could get videos and pics.