While 2022 marked the full-blown return to concerts since the global pandemic put a long hiatus in touring, SEVENTEEN’s new tour could arguably be the first live show that restores the collective sense of togetherness that makes the live experience so magical.
As various safety measures like masking and limited crowd interactions have understandably been at the forefront of artists’ and promoters’ minds, the final night of SEVENTEEN be the sun The tour at Newark’s Prudential Center showed how audiences can reconnect through technology, production and, of course, the members who made up the K-pop boy band.
What most clearly created the inclusive environment came through SEVENTEEN official glow sticks, a must-have item for any K-pop fan that automatically identifies you as the core member of your fandom. Specifically, light sticks for SEVENTEEN can glow and flash in a spectrum of different colors, all of which can be controlled via a phone app via Bluetooth, as is the case with many K-pop artists’ light sticks.
At a concert, the artist team takes control of the app, so every stick in the venue flashes and glows in sync with the music. Dubbed “Carat Bongs” to incorporate the band’s fandom name, Carats, the glow sticks created a deeper musical connection when they glowed red and yellow during the pyro-heavy opening numbers of “HOT” and “March” and soft white and pink as the band talked during intermissions.
Throughout the night, the production behind the tour also seemed to create an environment by highlighting the different types of people and communities that came out to support SEVENTEEN. As cameras tend to pan across the audience to spotlight participants on the arena’s jumbotrons, one couldn’t help but notice the various signs viewers had plenty of time to soak up for. and register. “Mexicans love SEVENTEEN,” “They/Them for Hoshi,” “Biracial Bisexuals for Vernon,” and “Latinas for Dokyeom” were some of the fan-made posters that got a lot of screen time as flags from around the world and focused on identity. some, like QTPOC Pride Flag, have made appearances.
While K-pop rarely gets overtly political, giving space to these different communities and groups was a subtle way for the group to once again show their continued support for equal rights.
As part of the last North American stopover of the be the sun tour, the production asked fans to learn and sing along to a section of SEVENTEEN’s sentimental 2016 song “Smile Flower” as a gift to the band. Before the guys returned for the encore, the arena screens displayed instructions that read, “Here in the final city of the North American tour in Newark, there’s a special event for SEVENTEEN: after the photo shoot time at the end of the show, we will all sing ‘Smile Flower’ together for SEVENTEEN. Please learn the song and lyrics of ‘Smile Flower’ now” and featured a section with lyrics in Korean and via romanization.
While the bright orange font color made it difficult to memorize — and SEVENTEEN later joked about the audience’s somewhat lackluster vocals — the effort to connect the audience in some other way to the artist was evident.
But SEVENTEEN didn’t just leave things to the tech and production, but did their part to create a community at the concert.
One of the most memorable moments of the night came when the group noticed a dancing fan in a glow-in-the-dark LED “stickman” costume high in the rafters at the Prudential Center. After Hoshi spotted the “stick man” — who turned out to be a woman or, as he called her, a “stick girl” — he shouted her out for all 13 members to see.
The singers also connected with several people in the crowd throughout the night, taking the time to ask them their names and have them sing different parts of their songs. As the concert ended with “Snap Shoot” and “VERY NICE,” Seungkwan descended into the concert hall to have Carats sing some verses into his microphone before the band continued with the choruses. For the first time in years, SEVENTEEN and their supporters had face-to-face contact during the three-hour musical affair.
Newark was an extraordinary ending for the be the sun tour as the 13 members of SEVENTEEN could wrap up the North American leg of the tour together.
Throughout the run, four members were stricken with COVID-19 and had to take time off from concert dates (and jump one jimmy kimmel appearance), but having the whole band wrap up that final show not only added to the central theme of togetherness of the night, but was clearly important to the guys themselves.
“We’re so happy to be back at 13 for you guys tonight,” Joshua told the early night crowd and it was a sentiment echoed by his various bandmates throughout the show.
After opening up to Billboard about the collective “difficulties” of negotiating contracts for the 13 members to continue moving forward as SEVENTEEN, the boy band undoubtedly knows the importance of sticking together and leaning on each other – Figuratively and literally, we quickly lost track of how many times the members would carry each other on their backs.
This was reflected in the band’s last concert experience, which felt all the more important after more than two and a half years of COVID concerns.
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