LOS ANGELES — Many musicians have fans. But only BTS has an ARMY.
The K-pop group’s legion of devoted followers turned out in droves Sunday night to the Sofi Stadium for the second show of the group’s four-night Permission to Dance On Stage – LA concert — their first in-person show since the coronavirus pandemic derailed their tour two years ago.
Hardcore fans, known as BTS’ ARMY, shuffled into the stadium, ARMY bombs and other merch in hand. (For those not in the know, ARMY bombs are orbs attached to sticks that light up along with the music during BTS concerts.)
With a setlist of over 20 songs including “Fire,” “Telepathy,” “Dynamite” and “Permission to Dance,” the show featured tight choreography, fiery pyrotechnics, confetti, balloons, a massive screen capturing all the action and heartfelt speeches from all seven BTS members — and USA TODAY viewed the whole thing. Here are some highlights.
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BTS weren’t the only superstars in the building.
About an hour into the show, the audience erupted into cheers when Megan Thee Stallion strutted onto the stage in a tight pink ensemble, complete with heels and puffy sleeves, to perform with the group for their remix of “Butter.”
“Everybody give it up for the boys! Thank ya’ll for having me,” the Houston native told the crowd after the song. “I’m feeling like a hot girl every season!”
RM complimented Megan Thee Stallion on her way out.
“Your existence makes the stage perfect,” he said. “Everybody make some noise for beautiful Megan Thee Stallion.”
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Jin channels ‘Squid Game’ in closing speech
In true BTS fashion, the group closed out the show with heartfelt speeches from each member. Jungkook and RM spoke in English, while the other members spoke in Korean with RM translating for them.
During his speech, Jin gave a nod to the hit South Korean Netflix series “Squid Game,” which, like BTS, has drawn fans from all around the world.
Wearing his short hair in pigtails like the massive doll in “Squid Game,” Jin turned his back to the audience and slowly turned his head around as the other BTS members hummed the “Red Light, Green Light” tune from the Netflix series.
Afterward, Jin said his relationship with his fans has been “almost like a movie.”
“And to make this movie of life with you really makes me happy,” he added. “This is a movie that we’ll continue to make until the very last day of our lives.”
J-Hope said Sunday’s show will “be a big part of my own history, my life story,” and Suga noted the mini-tour was “a really big challenge.” Jungkook said he “will cherish it forever,” and V said he enjoyed the show so much he may “have another concert tonight in my dream.”
Jimin confessed getting back into the groove of performing in person hasn’t been easy, but support from ARMY has helped.
“Yesterday, I really shouldn’t say this, but it’s the first time that I saw you in two years, and, honestly, it was a little awkward,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t think I did all I could do for you guys for the past two years, so it’s an honor and I’m really moved that all of you waited for us.”
RM said the ARMY helped wake him up after a tough morning where his body felt “so out of order.”
“I just woke up this morning at like 9 am, and I was, like, literally stuck in my bed,” he said. “I wasted all of my energy… but you guys are the magic. … You guys are my miracles. You guys are every good word in this world.”
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ARMY feels ‘euphoria’ at BTS’ concert return
The event, which took place only in Los Angeles, drew fans from all over the world. ARMY members expressed joy and gratitude — and tossed around free gifts known as “freebies” — in the stands.
Elle Villamayor, 25, flew from Chicago to attend all four performances. Ahead of Sunday’s show, she said she felt a mix of “disbelief” and “euphoria.”
“I lowkey still feel like I’m dreaming,” she said. “It’s unbelievable. I don’t want this to end. I don’t want the post-concert depression to start.”
Kylie Jensen, 20, said she and her mother Robyn, 44, bonded over BTS’ music while at home during the pandemic. The mother and daughter flew from Utah to attend Saturday and Sunday’s shows.
“It’s kind of like a reunion after having solitude for a very long time,” said the college student. “It’s kind of just like a moment to get together and feel alive again in a stadium full of people when it hasn’t been that way for so long.”
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