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Last Updated 25.05.2020 | 9:35 AM IST
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Evolution of BTS through the lens of Bang Bang Con

Bollywood News

If you were to tell us that in 2020, millions of fans would tune in to watch 24 hours of digital concerts, would you have believed it? We don't think so. The reason being there hasn't been an artist like that in while who keep their fans glued to the screens. Amid lockdown in many countries due to COVID-19 and keeping the safety of the fans and crew in mind, BTS decided to reschedule their Map Of The Soul tour which was supposed to kick off in April with Seoul shows. Since they couldn't meet the fans, this past weekend BTS screened their past 8 concerts on April 18 and April 19, respectively.

Evolution of BTS through the lens of Bang Bang Con

To say it was a successful endeavour would be an understatement. As per official press release, the concerts, notably, amassed 50.59 million total views. Headline Planet reported, "At its peak, it was reaching a concurrent audience of 2.24 million. Not simply passive viewers, audience members interacted socially, leading to 6.46 million in hashtag engagements between WeVerse and Twitter. Across the two-day convention, fans connected 500,000 light sticks from 162 different regions."

The schedule of the two-day concerts looked something like this:

April 18:

1. 2015 HYYH on Stage
2. 2016 BHYYH on Stage: Epilogue
3. 2014 Live Trilogy: Episode II The Red Bullet
4. BTS 3rd Muster (ARMY.ZIP+)

April 19:

1. 2017 Live Trilogy Episode III- The Wings Tour in Seoul
2. 2017 Live Trilogy Episode III -The Wings Tour The Final
3. BTS 4th Muster (Happily Ever After)
4. BTS World Tour Love Yourself in Seoul

BTS made their debut in the year 2013 under a label, Big Hit Entertainment. A South Korean group from Seoul has now broken several records and gone onto become the biggest boyband in the world. But, it wasn't an overnight success for the septet. What Bang Bang Con reflected was the steady rise of the passionate group who just wanted to make music for themselves and their fans (BTS Army). Starting from smaller venues with few thousands of fans to reaching a time when they could do shows in arenas to sold-out stadium tours. Every concert had its special moments and watching it with millions of fans around the world, this was a surreal experience which can't be expressed in words. It was full of a rollercoaster of emotions that you could feel the happiness, pain in their tears, the passion in their performances, and the humbleness in their personalities. In the past seven years, their growth has been so immense that everyone wants to work with the IT group. But, that hasn't changed the group a bit. They are still very passionate about what they want to create, what kind of music they would like to put out, and how teamwork makes dreams come true. With their latest album 'Map Of The Soul: 7', they went onto become No. 1 in 21 countries.

Bollywood Hungama spoke to some of the fans about their experience of watching the evolution of Bangtan in front of their eyes. Supriya Joshi, India's one of the top stand up comic and writer, did witness the BTS show live in Bangkok during Love Yourself tour. The experience was so enigmatic for her. "One of the biggest reasons I became an ARMY is because I could see myself in the struggle of these seven wonderful people who give it their all to every single thing they do," she says. "That’s just aspirational to me. And in all this time, they have never once lost their integrity. They knew from the start what they stand for, and they haven’t wavered from it since. Though I do regret that I did not discover them sooner, I do believe in the notion that BTS finds you exactly at the right moment. When I first started to hear them, I was at a low point in my life, and I truly believe their music helped me heal and move on. For that, I am grateful. I was so lucky to watch them live in concert last year. Words will fall short to describe how it was to be there, surrounded by thousands and thousands of ARMYs all collected with one person - to have that one night where we could also give BTS our all."

Adding to that, the whole experience of watching it fans was a memorable one. She adds, “Cut today, where we have spent two whole days watching BTS concerts and unbelievably, it was almost the same experience. We were all live-tweeting the concerts and honestly, it felt like I was watching them live with my friends. Emotions are running high these days, and amongst all the chaos and the worries that are unfortunately part of our daily lives, the two days of the concert was a much-needed break. And I’m so glad they decided to stream the older concerts too, because you could see the journey and progress of the group. You can see how they grew and still remained true to themselves. I wish things get better soon so that we can all get together again and celebrate the seven wonderful people we love so much. Until then, we will continue to support them online.”

In between every concert, they shared a lot of their dance videos from their practice sessions and Halloween episodes. BTS members – RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook – had pre-taped filler segments to encourage fans to enjoy the concert but also make sure to exercise during breaks, grab snacks and go completely insane during the performances just like one would during the live show. They even retweeted their past concert moments that brought back so many memories. Not only did those messages mean a lot to the fans, this also reflects how much they appreciate their fans’ enthusiasm.

BTS Fanclub Bangtan_india, says, “As you are aware, we all are undergoing a very unforgiving time right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In these times, a lot of artists are trying to connect with their fans virtually, and given the unparalleled love between BTS and ARMY, nothing could keep us apart.  So, 24 hours of reliving 8 of their past concert DVDs over a period of 2 days was a rollercoaster of emotions for us. It garnered a total of 50 million+ views on YouTube live and therefore, going by the numbers, was almost like a whole country attended a BTS concert.  There were so many unique experiences involved in this real-time virtual activity that the entire fandom felt a renewed love and enthusiasm for BTS music and the boys themselves.”

ARMYs around the world tuned in from different timezones. The fan club further adds, “A lot of fans tuned in from their homes where they are spending the quarantine with their families, and hence enjoyed a wholesome concert with their family members which may not be possible in reality. ARMYs across time zones set alarms to wake each other up, and many spent sleepless nights. ARMYs who did not have the official ARMY bombs (the BTS light sticks) made makeshift ARMY bombs and those who had purchased the official ARMY bombs connected their ARMY bombs to Weverse (an application where BTS interacts with ARMYs) via Bluetooth technology for globally synchronized real-time colour change as if in a physical concert hall.”

The success of BTS is an example of when you truly believe in something, you can achieve it. And when you have passionate fans around the world who support you in every endeavour, with a strong team backing you, that is a bond stronger than anything one has ever witnessed. “The experience was further fortified by the fact that all new and veteran ARMYs could relive BTS’s tour journey from the very beginning. A lot of fans got acquainted with BTS in different stages of their career so they got a chance to witness The Red Bullet and HYYH series concerts which they might not have been a part of, earlier. Through these 2 days, a lot of ARMYs could go through the journey like they have been there from the beginning. They could see BTS’s trajectory to success - the evolution of their discography, the growth in the size of the venues at which they performed, the story of their past 7 years of relentless hard work in a span of 2 days. This made it so much more special for the fandom."

"Reminiscing about the past 7 years in these action-packed two days showed us how much our boys have grown as artists and individuals but how the substance of their being is the same. They still work equally hard, with the same passion for their craft and feeling the same undying sense of love and gratitude towards ARMYs and everyone who has helped them in this journey. They are as humble as they were when they were rookies, and they are as close to us millions as they were to us hundreds," they sign off.

Deb, who works as a data scientist in Netherlands, has been a passionate fan and often even releases dance covers of BTS. Speaking of unifying the fandom in these trying times, she said that there is no one who does it like BTS. “Starting from the year end award ceremonies and their variety show Run! BTS to the latest two day online convention Bang Bang Con, BTS have always made sure that ARMYs stay connected to each other and to them. And I’m not saying this because I am an ARMY myself, but over the years I have been a part of different fandoms and I haven’t experienced the love and unity anywhere else. For millions of fans, getting an opportunity to be unified again after the postponement of the Map of the Soul Tour was extremely meaningful and Bang Bang Con was exactly what all of us needed to survive this period of isolation,” she says.

“By choosing some of the most important concerts and fan-meetings of their career for this convention BTS showed us that all through these seven years the most important thing has been their desire to heal people with their music and be the voice for millions across age, race, and gender. I believe that BTS wanted ARMYs to relive these moments again and for me, I got to reflect on their artistic journey this weekend that has been nothing but extravagant. 22 hours of concert footage not only left me in awe but it reinstated the fact that BTS’ rise to prominence was nothing out of the blue, it did not happen overnight—from performing at a smaller venue with only 5,000 fans to a stadium with 120,000, they were meant to be the biggest group on the planet,” she concludes.

Karishma Shetty, a culture writer based in Mumbai, has sort of a different experience since she recently became a part of the fandom. From catching up on all music videos to binge-watching Run! BTS, she has zoomed into the fandom like the flash! “What’s funny to think about is that I just went through a few hours watching Jin screaming for few minutes and realized how quickly I identified myself as a part of ARMY. It’s really a fandom like no other! The intensity though scary at first glance is nothing but a warm embrace. In the midst of quarantine mode, there’s very little to cheer me up but Bang Bang Con was a surprising delight. It’s probably the first time I really felt invested as a part of ARMY. I sang along to the English lyrics, I cried during the ending ments, I felt one with the seven boys, who have given me so much laughter and joy over the past few. Moreover, the fact that I get to write about them as a profession just helped solidify the bond further. For me, as an infant member of ARMY, Bang Bang Con was an unforgettable experience.”

The 8 concerts had so many memorable moments that it is difficult to pick one. What always stood out for her is the group moments when they embrace and support each other. “When it comes to their achievements, I am still in the process of learning about BTS but a moment that struck me and left me an emotional mess was when RM asks the members for a hug. As my bias, seeing Namjoon let his guard down and just take a moment to show his heartfelt love for his boys was overwhelming,” she concluded.

As far as BTS is concerned, the rise of the group may have come as surprise to the music industry but not the Army who have seen them in every phase of their life. They say music transcends language and it is true. From speaking about self-love to sharing personal struggles, their music and realness have resonated with the audience. BTS is a South Korean group who are now global artists redefining the ways of artistry through their music.

As said in their song 'Magic Shop', "On days I hate being myself, days I want to disappear forever / Let's make a door in your heart / Open the door and this place will await / It's okay to believe, the Magic Shop will comfort you." Bang Bang Con was the Magic Shop everyone needed in their lives to help and heal one another.

ALSO READ: BTS docu-series Break The Silence to premiere on May 12, 2020

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