When BTS first dropped the announcement that they would be holding four stadium concerts in Los Angeles, I laughed at the thought of attending a show myself. Even if I somehow managed to fight my way through Ticketmaster and secure tickets, how could I possibly travel from the east coast to the west coast just to attend a concert? The mere idea seemed absurd.
But as I scrolled through Twitter and saw all the excited fan reactions to the announcement, I began to feel a pressing sense of FOMO. As someone who became an ARMY in 2020, I have never gotten a chance to see BTS live thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. BTS’s music was the one constant that got me through the long days of quarantining at home, and they became my favorite artists of all time within the year. One aspect of their artistry that consistently stood out to me was their live performances, and I was willing to go the extra mile (or 3000) to witness them with my own eyes and ears. That’s how I found myself creating two Ticketmaster accounts so I could double my chances of getting into the Verified Fan Presale. Even though I knew the ticketing process would be a bloodbath, I told myself that I might as well try because you never knew what was possible.
The purple gods must have been shining on me because miraculously, I was sent an invite code to the presale and managed to snag two tickets within twenty minutes of joining the queue. At that point, I had no idea who I could actually attend the concert with; I was just trying to complete the purchase before someone else took those seats. I didn’t bother trying for floor seats either because I knew they would be out of my price range. But it worked: I had in my possession two Section 333 tickets to see Permission To Dance On Stage — LA on December 2nd.
Fast forward a few days, and my friend Pragnya who had introduced me to BTS in the first place gave me confirmation that she could attend the show with me. All of a sudden, I had a plane ticket and a hotel booked. I couldn’t believe it was really happening; everything had actually worked out and I was going to see BTS live.
On the day of the concert, I took an early morning flight from my home in Philly, where I had been staying during my remote co-op, to LA where I met with Pragnya who was flying in from Boston. Unfortunately, our trip got off to a rocky start: when we arrived at the hotel, the front desk workers told us that we couldn’t check in if we were under 21 (Pragnya and I are both 20). Apparently, this was a rule for all the hotels in the area, which I was not aware of when I made the booking. But somehow, another miracle happened: as we were standing outside trying to decide what to do, we bumped into someone who turned out to be Pragnya’s friend from summer camp a few years back. This friend had flown in with her sister to attend the concert and was coincidentally staying at the same hotel we had booked. Thus, the most random chance meeting became our saving grace as she allowed us to stay in her room. It’s certainly a story we’ll all be telling for years to come.
After we changed into our concert outfits and attempted to do our makeup, Pragnya and I were finally on the way to SoFi Stadium, picking up some Chipotle on the way. Thankfully, the staff decided to let us into the venue early so we had plenty of time to get to our seats. The entire experience still did not feel real, even while we were able to hear Soundcheck from outside. Both of us were literally shaking in our seats as the lights dimmed and the first VCR began to play.
When BTS finally came out with their powerful opening song “ON,” which they had been waiting for two years to perform in front of an audience, the entire stadium rose to their feet and cheered. I still couldn’t process the fact that the seven members were only a few hundred feet away from me and that I was hearing their voices myself instead of through a screen. I hadn’t been planning on recording almost every song, but I found myself desperate to preserve memories of the show so I could rewatch them whenever I wanted. However, I also wanted to just bask in the moment, so I did my best to split my time between recording and simply enjoying.
Throughout their two and a half hour long concert, BTS performed most of the songs from their latest album BE, which ranged from laid back tracks such as “Life Goes On” to the ridiculously catchy and upbeat “Dis-ease.” They also brought back hits from their older albums including many of my personal favorites such as “I Need U,” “Blood Sweat & Tears” and “Airplane pt.2.” I particularly loved the live band arrangements of BTS’s biggest pop hits such as “Boy With Luv,” “Dynamite” and “Butter.” When it was time for the encore, BTS had the crowd roaring when they performed fan favorite songs “Home” and “Mikrokosmos,” the former of which has only been performed live one other time. Finally, they surprised all of us by bringing Chris Martin of Coldplay to sing their collaboration track “My Universe” as the final song.
When the concert ended, Pragnya and I immediately exclaimed about how much we miss them, even though we had just seen them a minute ago. We walked out of the stadium in a daze, feeling like we had experienced the entire show through someone else’s bodies. The post concert depression was already starting to hit as we waited for two hours to catch an Uber back to the hotel. We were dead on our feet by this point, having spent nearly twenty-four hours awake. I had absolutely zero regrets though, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat if it meant getting to hear my favorite artists live.
Writing this a week later, the concert still feels to me like a dream that wasn’t real. I’ve rewatched my video recordings over and over, hardly able to believe that I took them myself. Even though we ran into a few hiccups throughout the trip, the concert experience itself was perfect from how kind all the attendees were to how magnificent each stage was. There is no better feeling in the world than screaming all the lyrics to a song in a language you don’t speak; where everyone is united simply by their love for the music. Whenever BTS tour again, I’ll be first in line to get tickets.