BTS and ARMY reunite for a ‘miracle in the desert’
LAS VEGAS, Nevada — “They call Las Vegas the miracle in the desert. This moment with ARMY feels like a miracle.”
BTS’s leader RM addressed the tens of thousands of fans who filled the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on April 9 for the boy band’s second of four concerts.
ARMY, the name for BTS’s fans, sat for hours in anticipation of the boy band taking to the stage and reached deafening decibels when a black-and-white video of the members posing for mugshots started playing.
BTS continued the prison motif for its opening number “On,” appearing from behind bars with a plethora of back-up dancers in jumpsuits and the words “We don’t need permission” emboldened across screens on stage.
The bad-boy image was a far cry from the humble and humorous band that spoke at a press conference less than an hour before taking the stage.
“When the pandemic started, none of us knew we’d be wearing masks for this long or be unable to hold concerts for this long. We thought of other ways to connect with fans in this pandemic, starting from the social media pages [Instagram] we recently opened and [fan community platform] Weverse. I think we ended up with many ways to communicate in many directions,” Suga said.
This desire and effort put in to connect with ARMY has not gone unnoticed. What was most striking when talking to U.S. ARMY was the deep connection they felt to the Korean septet.
Lorena Sifuentez says BTS was what helped her get through the dark times in her life.
“Me personally, they came into my life when I was going through a huge change, break-up, five years — we were ready to get married and everything but it just didn’t work out, and for some reason their songs were just hitting differently. They helped me get through it.”
Sifuentez came to see BTS with her mom, two sisters and niece, some of whom were attending their very first concert. The family, decked out in purple glitter, purple eyeshadow and even purple contact lenses, had traveled from Albuquerque, New Mexico, an eight-hour drive, and spent “thousands” on their trip including the concert tickets. Purple is the boy band’s representative color.
“They’ve been helping my mom with her depression when we lost our grandparents to Covid. My mom’s ARMY too. They’ve been really helping us get through some really hard times and just be able to smile and have fun.”
A gaggle of teens talked about how BTS differs from non-Korean acts because of how the members interact with fans.
“I like the fact that they like to speak about mental health. […] I don’t really hear it much from other artists the way that they speak about it and literally make it comfortable for everyone to talk about and express themselves,” said 16-year-old Stephanie Garcia, a Las Vegas native.
Twenty-four-year-old Kerena Monroid echoed the same sentiment. She had driven five hours with her purple-haired 22-year-old sister Kassidy to see BTS perform.
“Their content is overwhelming. It’s so exciting to see, they do so many things for their fans. […] It feels like [it's] from the heart and I was so astonished with how much work they put into not just their music and writing their lyrics and working on production and everything and doing their own choreography and being so dedicated to that, but beyond that, doing such entertaining things for the fans too in their off time. […] It brings people so much joy.”
That joy was most evident when the band members boarded a motorized platform that moved around the perimeter of the main floor of the arena to get up close and personal with ARMY in the stands. Fans held up signs, some in Korean, with messages such as “I love you, thank you,” and “Mexico loves BTS.”
“I’m glad to see ARMY is having so much fun,” said J-Hope. “It makes me so happy!”
Watching these showmen perform their hearts out begs the question — how could anyone feel unhappy in the presence of BTS?
BY ALANNAH HILL [firstname.lastname@example.org]