A virtual experience: Bang Bang Con: The Live

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KOREA NOW

Many artists have either canceled or postponed tours and concerts because of stadium closures and social distancing guidelines, including  BTS, which postponed its 2020 “Map of the Soul” world tour. In place of this event, the Korean boy group held a livestream pay-per-view concert, “Bang Bang Con: The Live,” on June 14.

The one-time event was exclusive to Weverse, an app published by BTS’s management company to host interactions between fans and idols. Tickets to the event were $35, which also allows fans to re-watch the concert after the final recording is approved. 

The 100-minute concert was held in a studio consisting of five rooms and two stages that  members of BTS utilized throughout the performance. There was also a live chat feature that allowed fans to connect with one another during the event.

 As soon as the countdown signaled the start of the concert, BTS walked in one of the doors of the studio, which was styled like a house,  beginning the set with an energetic bang with one of their most popular songs, “Dope.”   

Having watched online concerts in the past, I was skeptical when BTS announced it  in May since  every one I had seen in the past was just a pre-recorded performance rather than a live show, as a concert should be. However, I put my skepticism aside when a friend persuaded me to buy a ticket and watch the concert with her digitally.

Although a livestream can never truly replace the experience of an in-person concert, there were many aspects of “Bang Bang Con: The Live” that had a similar impact to live concerts I’ve attended, such as  the set changes, which took place during short endorsed advertisements, and fans syncing their Army Bomb lightsticks with the performances. Although I don’t own a lightstick, I was able to watch them pulse to the beat of the music, reminding me of concerts I’ve attended in the past. 

Alongside the performances, the event included sections in which  members of BTS did other entertaining activities, such as a section where the members whispered to create an  autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR)— a  relaxing, tingling sensation felt throughout the body–. The group also held a staring contest. I liked that rather than having a normal concert with artists singing and dancing the whole time, BTS made an effort to interact with their fans. 

One of the most memorable moments happened when  BTS members Suga and RM sang their duet “Respect” from the group’s newly released album, “Map of the Soul: 7.” For this show, they gave off a cute retro persona with their baggy suits and relaxed choreography. 

Another highlight of the show was when the group sang one of their most popular songs, “Boy With Luv.” Rather than perform the same song and dance that most of their fans now know by heart, BTS turned it into a different experience by remixing the song and dancing with LED umbrellas. The group had a more relaxed ambience expressed by their choreography, as there was a sense that they were enjoying themselves as they danced. 

Following BTS’s encore song, there was a short transition to the final stage while fans emotionally chanted the members’ names. BTS sang the last song of the concert, “Spring Day,” and it left me in tears. The lyrics that repeatedly said, “I miss you” in Korean portrayed the members’ frustration and sorrow for not being able to perform for their fans in-person. Just as BTS opened the doors of their virtual house to start the concert, the doors closed after their last performance, ending the show. 

Toward the end of the concert, I experienced a few technical difficulties while watching the livestream. While transitioning to different camera angles, the screen would freeze and glitch during the show. These minor technical issues could have been due to the fact that there were more than 700,000 viewers. 

Although there were a few technical difficulties that prevented me from watching every second of the concert, the $35 concert was absolutely worth it. There were some advantages in watching it online since I was able to view the artists more clearly; however, it cannot replace the experience of seeing BTS perform live.