Blazing fire, dazzling fireworks, and a whole lot of confetti, BTS threw a party last weekend and boy, do they know how to throw one.
On Sunday, 24 October, the global pop icons held their highly anticipated PERMISSION TO DANCE ON STAGE online concert, livestreamed from Seoul's Olympic Stadium via VenewLive. Serving as a pre-cursor for their Los Angeles concerts later this year, the two-hour spectacle, viewed from 197 countries, was a showcase of jaw-dropping performances, stunning outfits, and incredible stage production.
Right from the beginning to the very end, you were hooked in.
Since the start of the pandemic, BTS had been throwing online concerts and immensely successful ones at that (their previous MUSTER SOWOOZOO 2021 fanmeet raked in 1.33 million paid viewers). Complete with fan interactions and multi-view cameras, the 'Butter' act have been recreating the concert experience the best that they could.
But oddly enough, PERMISSION TO DANCE ON STAGE didn't feel like any of their previous virtual shows. It felt live, as if everything from the stage production to the sound mixing, were meant to unfold in front of an in-person audience and then filmed and streamed online.
Maybe it was their solo opening speeches that were reminiscent of pre-pandemic BTS shows (like SUGA's 'make some noise' signal or j-hope's "I'm your hope..." introduction) or the fact that you could hear the members out of breath or the added soundcheck before the actual concert.
High-energy, intense and powerful, the group rocked the stage with a setlist of their best party songs, demonstrating that despite an ongoing pandemic and countless hardships, no one needed permission to dance.
"Let’s make [it] a party today," said RM.
From one of their earliest bangers 'DOPE' to their recent summer anthem 'Permission To Dance', BTS went through some of their greatest hits. While previous concerts – both virtual and in-person – usually sees the members perform solo tracks, PERMISSION TO DANCE ON STAGE entirely comprised group performances, displaying their strength and tenacity as a unit even with one member down.
Prior to the concert, BIGHIT MUSIC announced that V would not be participating in the night's choreography due to an injury he incurred the night before. Yet despite spending most of the show sitting on a chair (or throne, according to the BTS ARMY), the member still commanded the stage alongside the rest of BTS.
PERMISSION TO DANCE ON STAGE also felt more lighthearted, when compared to their previous online shows. With BTS soon set to take over a live stage later this year, the delight and excitement were evident in the members through the whole show and even as they addressed the (virtual) crowd.
While there was still a tinge of melancholy in the air with BTS still performing to an empty stadium, the 'Life Goes On' act felt hopeful and in return, so did we. As part of ending ments, the group shared some of the challenges they've faced preparing for the concert and how much they've missed seeing ARMY (BTS fans) in person and how they're looking forward to seeing them at their sold-out LA concerts.
RM: "I’ve been feeling pushed to [my] limits, trying to remember what I did, who I was. But I knew I’d be able to remember when I came here. And although V had to sit out and you guys aren’t here, I realized I won’t need any motivation if I could just hold a concert."
j-hope: "We filled the whole setlist by all seven of us. It was a challenge for us, and there were difficult moments, figuring out how to maintain the tension. We really put in a lot of effort, our souls into decorating PERMISSION TO DANCE ON STAGE."
Jimin: "The Olympic Stadium is really big, and without anyone here, it feels half like doing a rehearsal. It’s becoming more difficult to think of what to say now that I’ve said so much without you guys here. But I feel we’re gonna meet soon, so let’s talk more then."
Jin: "Turning thirty, it aches here and there, and I really want to hold more concerts before I become too old and it becomes hard to keep up the energy as before. With the LA concert as the start, we’ll find more chances to meet you guys so please look forward."
SUGA: "I looked up our Final Concert, and it just felt like a dream. Although it wasn’t easy to fill all the stages together, I grasped we’ll be able to reunite with you guys here at the Olympic Stadium next time.”
V: "I actually felt sad. The injury came all of a sudden. I practised anticipating how happy I’d be during the concert, but shamefully, I had to sit out for the actual concert. I’ll take proper care of my condition and show you guys what I couldn’t tonight."
And while we all miss real-life concerts, there's an eclectic charm to virtual shows. Here at Bandwagon, we've particularly enjoyed our excitedly buzzing group chats, where we share our favourite moments from the show in real-time. It feels like we're all watching it together even when we're not.
Considerably one of the purest forms of a concert review we could formulate, here's Bandwagon's (somewhat) real-time commentary and thoughts on BTS' PERMISSION TO DANCE ON STAGE – minus the excessive screaming, of course.
INTO THE FIRE
'ON', 'Fire', 'Dope', 'DNA'
"High-energy, intense and powerful, #BTS rocked the stage with a setlist of their best party songs, demonstrating that despite an ongoing pandemic and countless hardships, no one needed #PermissiontoDance." Check out our #PTD_ON_STAGE concert review here: https://t.co/GXhtWu14cq pic.twitter.com/FUhZVtF1VW— Bandwagon (@BandwagonAsia) October 26, 2021
Camille: Powerful opening. That’s how you start a show. The moment they stepped on stage, you’ll understand why they’re the world’s biggest stars. Best ‘ON’ performance I’ve seen so far (save for V’s absence - who despite having to sit on a throne, still owned the performance and the rest of the show). They’ve been consistently saying how they can’t wait to perform for a live audience and you can see why especially from this performance - from the scale of the production to the choreography with a legion of dancers.
Whoever came up with this flow and setlist, good job. Love the FIRE remix with ACTUAL FIRE. Big MIC DROP energy. 'DOPE' and 'DNA' were so much fun to see especially with the live band arrangements. Ghost band is that you?
Kara: V wasn’t given permission to dance. Heh, sorry! But he was still given a throne where he sat like the king that he is and delivered a stunning performance as if he wasn’t injured at all. Despite his absence from BTS’ formations, the show was still a joy to catch. They even switched things up with ‘FIRE’, and it was great to dive into an all-time favourite with a different feel. They all looked so...dangerous.
Franchesca: The beginning of any concert, the moment when the people you’ve been waiting for finally appear on stage always ensues a rush of excitement and it was no different when BTS finally materialised on my screen, looking as powerful as ever. ‘DOPE’ was one of the songs I first discovered from BTS and one of my hype songs in general so, by the time, this song came on, I was in full party mode, turning my bedroom into a full-fledged dance floor (many thanks to SUGA’s verse coupled with the party lights I recently bought as well hehe).
I also definitely have to mention the absolute command V had over the stage. Despite dealing with an injury and having to do a large majority of the opening number on a chair, he had dominated all the times the camera was on him. Can we also talk about J-hope’s “cool boy from the future” fit? Like wow.
BLOOD, A LOT OF SWEAT, AND MANY TEARS (FROM US)
'Blue & Grey', 'Black Swan', 'Blood Sweat & Tears', 'Fake Love'
Camille: ‘Blue & Grey’ is V’s song so I was wondering how they’d execute the performance without him front and centre, but again they made it work. His stage presence and natural charisma just shine through. I was not prepared for the triple threat to follow - the masterpiece that is ‘Black Swan’ with its stunning choreography. I especially love watching Jimin just lose himself in dance (and V looking like some sort of Prince of Vampires on his throne). It was also my first time to witness the drama of ‘Blood Sweat & Tears’ and the intensity of ‘Fake Love’. Special shoutout to BTS’ stylists for this set’s outfit selection - my Twitter timeline was on fire.
Franchesca: Is Jungkook wearing a crop top?
No, but seriously this was a great follow up to such an intense opening number. BTS' choreography has always been one of their greatest strengths – I don't know if it's because of the actual dance itself or how immersed the members are in their performance but it's absolutely mesmerising. I haven’t heard ‘Blood, Sweat, Tears’ in a long time but it still brought the same level of awe I remember from all those years ago.
A HUGE COUCH, A LOT OF CONFETTI, AND BUTTER CHICKEN
'Life Goes On', 'Boy With Luv', 'Dynamite', 'Butter'
Camille: ‘Life Goes On’ will always be a source of comfort for me so I always look forward to seeing them perform that live, but that ‘Boy With Luv’ performance was something I didn’t know I needed in my life. Petition to keep performing this song with a live band please! Love the arrangement. The band (who I remember from BTS' 2020 BBMAs performance) did a stellar job with the funky version. Same for ‘Dynamite’ and ‘Butter’! I wanna live in that confetti-filled, pastel-coloured transition and dance break.
Kara: Insider knowledge: ‘Boy With Luv’ has been used as a peg for advertising way too many times (my husband is a music arranger), so hearing this revamped version was totally refreshing for both of us. Can we please have this version recorded at the studio? Please?
I also never thought I’d get to hear a ‘Dynamite/Butter’ medley that would inspire a meal. We had butter shoyu chicken. It was hella noms, pretty explosive, and definitely something we’ll have on repeat in the kitchen just like those songs.
Franchesca: Look at that big couch. I distinctly remember how adorable it was when some of the members stood up after ‘Life Goes On’ to perform ‘Boy With Luv’ but then decided they'd continue sitting on the couch for a while, I don’t know if they planned that but it’s a nice thought if they were just like ‘Nah, let’s stay on the couch” on the spot.
Also, Jimin’s beautiful harmony with V for the ending chorus of ‘Life Goes On’ still rings in my head.
Party, Party, Yeah
'Airplane Pt.2', 'Baepsae (Silver Spoon)', 'Dis-ease', 'Telepathy', 'Stay', 'So What', 'I Need U', 'Save Me', 'IDOL'
Camille: Felt like a giant party with all the confetti and pyro. It’s almost like a BTS-soundtracked whirlwind of a night out - all my faves in one medley - 'Baepsae,' 'Dis-ease,' 'So What' (plus Jungkook’s “statement,” you tell ‘em, JK), and their ode to 2012 EDM, ‘Stay’. Can’t forget that ‘IDOL’ remix too!!
Kara: Here at Bandwagon, we’ve talked quite a bit about livestream concerts and how you’re able to do things you can’t normally do at a physical show. I was dancing in the kitchen while chopping cauliflower for dinner at this point and you surely can’t do that at a BTS concert...or any concert.
Franchesca: This is my favourite part of the entire concert, mainly because it had a lot of my favourite songs. I’ve always been a bigger fan of hyped and in-your-face BTS compared to their sentimental side (which I obviously still very much enjoy), so their performances of ‘Dis-ease’ and ‘Baepsae’ was a major moment for me for the concert – especially RM’s insane energy for the latter. Not to mention, ‘IDOL’ as well! It’s never been a song that I gravitated towards but this version is on a whole different level. If you weren’t on your feet dancing already, this series of performances definitely would have gotten you too.
‘Save Me’ and ‘I Need U’ also took me on a trip. These songs are what soundtrack my days as a teenage ARMY so hearing and seeing BTS perform them live now reminded me not only far they’ve come as a group but also how much I’ve grown through the years. Wow, am I really crying at a dance party right now?
WHY ARE WE CRYING?
'Young Forever', 'Spring Day'
Camille: Hearing the fanchant was a bit disorienting because I keep forgetting that it's looped recording. Whenever I hear the screams getting louder, I would think "OMG, they're back on stage!" and then it loops back to cheers of "BTS! BTS!"
I always look forward to their encore songs, and what tour merch they have on. (I seriously checked if Jin’s green bow was official merch. HYBE Merch, if you’re reading this, please consider adding that to the Weverse Shop).
V mentioned that these were the songs they thought fans would love to hear the most for the encore, and I just wanna say thank you cause these are two of my favourite ballads from their discography. I’ve seen them perform ‘Spring Day’ several times throughout the pandemic, and it will always be heartwarming to see, but ‘Young Forever’ was a special treat to hear.
Franchesca: ‘Spring Day’ holds a special place in my heart: it’s from my favourite BTS album and reminds me of a very happy time in my life. So, any time they perform the song always brings me so much joy. I always go into any BTS concert hoping they’d perform it but had very low expectations about them performing it this time around since it wasn’t exactly a party song. So, it was a very heartwarming and touching surprise.
PERMISSION TO DANCE: A prelude to live concerts
'Permission to Dance'
Camille: It’s always bittersweet for any concert to end - virtual or in IRL. But this ending wasn’t as heavy as the previous shows. It felt very light and optimistic, maybe because they were heading out on the road soon. Instead of a goodbye, to me, it felt more like an intermission, more like a see you later kinda thing. Like Jin belting out in ‘Permission To Dance’ - “we don’t need to worry” cause we’ll all see each other real soon at the 3 December livestream!
Kara: We kept guessing when they were going to play ‘Permission to Dance’, and it should’ve been obvious they’d save it for the finale. It kept things light and happy, especially now that we know their LA concert this December will also be livestreamed. This is the future of live events, everybody!
Franchesca: This was such a fun way to end a great show, BTS dancing and videos of ARMY from across the world dancing along projected on the screens. My favourite part of ‘Permission to Dance’, of course, will always be SUGA and j-hope’s little dance number but this time around, V finally joining in with the rest of the group for the last chorus holds a special place in my heart.
The delayed viewing of PERMISSION TO DANCE ON STAGE online is happening on:
31 October, 10 AM KST/JST, 9 AM SGT/PHT
30 October, 6 PM PDT
30 October, 9 PM EST
BTS' Permission To Dance On Stage in LA is happening on 27, 28 November and 1, 2 December. BTS will livestream the last day of the concert series (3 December at 12:30 PM KST (10:30 AM JKT, 11:30 AM PHT/SGT) via VenewLive.
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