A perfectly choreographed, glittering farewell concert
The South Korean boy band BTS says goodbye to their fans in Korea. This is broadcast worldwide and the supporters in Berlin are also intoxicated. Even if you’re not a fan, you’ll feel slightly drunk afterwards. A participant observation.
Es starts as an animated film. Ribbons of light fly through space, approaching Earth, leaping from continent to continent, from city to city. Until they span the globe like a net. The camera zooms into the cities, fireworks explode over London and Paris, and high-rise buildings have posters on which the seven BTS singers dance and sing. The animation ends. Now you can see a real stage and a sea of lights where the audience would normally be. Then there they are: RM, Suga, Jin, Jimin, V, J-Hope and Jungkook, the seven men are all dressed in black. The screeching begins.
It’s a live experience and yet it’s not. The fans in Berlin’s Zoopalast cinema see video recordings of BTS’ last concert for the time being. One of the most successful bands worldwide. Their song “Dynamite” has 1.6 billion views on YouTube and the band members have spoken at the United Nations. Now the South Koreans are taking a break to complete their 18-month military service. According to the management, they should continue together in 2025.
Until then, the performance in the South Korean port city of Busan in October 2022 will be the last. The concert film can be seen in cinemas worldwide. Many have come to Berlin, but a few places are still available. The hall is full of young girls, a few boys and parents. A teenager wears a headband with heart pom poms. Many have round glowing balls in their hands. The so-called lightsticks are part of the equipment at K-Pop concerts. In the crowd in Busan, they are perfectly synchronized and change color depending on the song.
To the untrained eye, the BTS concert is like driving a bumper car when you’re already sitting one. You rush uncontrollably through all the flashing, glittering colors and lights, the music comes from all directions. After the first two songs, BTS turns to the audience. One after the other tells how much they missed the performances. They don’t mention Corona, just that it wasn’t possible to perform for a long time.
Usually in boy bands there’s always one guy everyone is in love with. As with the Backstreet Boys Nick Carter. Here it is difficult to say. As soon as they pick up the rhinestone-studded microphone, each of the seven singers erupts in euphoric screams in the hall. The idols, as the singers of K-Pop bands are called, are cast according to strict categories. There’s a pretty boy, a cool rapper, a love and a particularly good dancer. Many of them look operated. The beauty standards in South Korea and especially on K-Pop stars are high.
A week earlier there was a similar event in the Zoopalast. A concert by singer Billie Eilish was shown. Also a teenage icon. The fans sang along there too, but the energy in the room cannot be compared.
BTS fans are also called “Army”, which says enough about their devotion. It is a perfectly choreographed, sparkling concert. In the end, BTS talk to the fans for a long time: “When we’re with you, we’re most ourselves.” It ends with fireworks and a group of very happy Berliners.