Traveling up to 230 miles North to New Jersey and New York to see South Korean musicians, Beyond the Scene (or more commonly referred to as BTS), are many Blake students from their devoted fanbase, dubbed “ARMY”.
Making their debut from humble beginnings in June 2013 under a virtually unknown record label, BTS has gradually worked their way to current worldwide acclaim as “the biggest boyband in the world” with two No.1 ranked albums on the U.S. Billboard 200 charts, a feat practically unheard of for a non-English-speaking Asian group to accomplish in the Western music industry.
For many ARMYs, BTS has not only served as artists who release their favorite songs, but personal agents of change. With the uplifting messages of self-acceptance behind their latest concept album, Love Yourself: Answer, fans have found themselves inspired to learn more about the importance of self-love. “I used to be very shy and really self-conscious about myself,” says junior Emily Phan. “This “Love Yourself” era helped me [realize] that maybe I’m not alone in all these struggles.”
Some zealous fans with general admission tickets opted to arrive at their venues a day early and set up camp overnight for a chance to reach the esteemed barricade, the closest a fan can get to the stage. Such was the case for sophomore Karina Prilucka who attended the concert in Newark, New Jersey, September 29. “It’s not reserved seating, so we have to fight our way to get close to them,” she says. “Why not take the challenge?”
One ARMY, sophomore Angel Rozario, had the luck of interacting with a few members once reaching barricade in New York City for the group’s first stadium concert October 6 at Citi Field. These moments include being waved at by lead rapper j-hope and making eye contact with members V and SUGA several times throughout the night with another 50,000 concertgoers in attendance. “Just to get theIR acknowledgement was surreal because before, it was like I only [saw them] through a screen, but now, they [were] right in front of [my] eyes,” she says.
This tremendous fan love, however, does not go unreciprocated. Despite the fact that only one of the seven members are fluent in English, they each try their best to overcome the language barrier by showing as much love for their fans as they can during their heartfelt ments, a set time between songs for small speeches and interactions with the crowd, whether it be in carefully thought-out English or in their native tongue through a translator. “I felt so much pride and adoration for them!”, says junior Sydney Nguyen. “I could tell they worked hard to communicate with us. They could not stop expressing their gratitude.”