K-Pop Group BTS Brings ‘The Wings Tour’ To Los Angeles: Review
BTS is the hottest act in K-Pop for good reason. The seven-member group’s forward-thinking mix of hip-hop and club beats transcends the traditional borders of K-Pop, winning them a global following. And that’s not hyperbole. Their sophomore LP, Wings, sold over a million copies around the world and debuted at number 26 on the Billboard 200. The hitmakers also made chart history earlier this year when “Spring Day” cracked the top 10 on the US iTunes download chart. Oh, and they sold out an American tour in minutes.
Korea’s gift to pop performed for 18,000 fans at the Honda Center in Anaheim on Sunday night (April 2), showcasing their frenetic choreography and eclectic influences. The band’s broad appeal was reflected in the diverse crowd. There were people of all ages and races at the venue, covered from head-to-toe in BTS merchandise. While they had little in common on the surface, there seemed to be an unspoken code that involved screaming hysterically at every available opportunity and frantically waving torches, phones or any other light source. It made for an electric, feverish atmosphere.
The surprisingly long set, which stretched on for two hours, began with furious banger “Not Today.” It was clear from the get-go that BTS didn’t come to play. They immediately launched into a dizzying dance routine, spinning around the stage in tight formation. It was a reminder of how sloppy many western acts have become at performing. Not only was every step perfectly timed, the group’s choreography was accentuated with clever use of lighting and glossy projections. There were no props to speak of, but that would have only diminished the sleek presentation.
As a K-Pop novice, I was impressed by how the concert allowed each member to show off their respective strengths via solo spots. Rap Monster drew deafening applause for “Reflection,” while Suga left the girls sitting next to me (literally) crying and shaking after his moody rendition of “First Love.” My favorite solo belonged to Jimin. The blond Pop God delivered a powerful vocal and some of the night’s best dance moves while performing “Lie.” I found the sub-groups a little harder to follow.
Between solos and group numbers, BTS would split into a quartet (Jin, V, Jimin and Jungkook) for ballads and a trio (Rap Monster, Suga and J-Hope) for hip-hop songs. It definitely kept things interesting, but was also a little confusing at times. However, the hardcore K-Pop stars were in their element with the constantly changing line-ups and lapped up every new formation. For me, the most exciting moments came when the guys came together and did their thing. They are individually brilliant, but still somehow more than a sum of their parts.
As for highlights, the intricate choreography and elaborate production of “Fire” stands out as did their high-energy performance of catchy banger, “I Need U.” The superstars closed the show with “Blood, Sweat And Tears” – three things the A.R.M.Y. spent during the show. (Ok, there was no blood). After an encore, BTS returned and wound up the show with recent hit, “Spring Day.” The Wings Tour is the perfect introduction to the professionalism and pageantry of K-Pop. BTS is in a league of their own and the world is starting to realize it.