BTS Army marches on in support

Fans arming themselves with light sticks - called Army bombs - before a concert by K-pop boyband BTS in New York last Saturday.
Fans arming themselves with light sticks - called Army bombs - before a concert by K-pop boyband BTS in New York last Saturday.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK •The Army - as fans of South Korean boyband BTS are called - was willing to dig in for a long fight for a prized scalp.

The fans camped out for almost a week to be the first to receive wristbands that let them stand as close to the stage as possible.

Last Saturday, they tasted the spoils of victory, cheering on the seven-member band at their first stadium performance in the United States, in Citi Field in Queens, New York.

A sold-out crowd of about 40,000 turned up for the final show of the group's Love Yourself tour .

In the hours before BTS took the stage, fans had lined up by the thousands at stands to arm themselves with light sticks - called Army bombs - at US$57 (S$79) each.

Shows of severe devotion are the norm in K-pop, but even in that universe, the fervour generated by BTS is unusually big-bang intense.

BTS have become the most successful K-pop invaders of the US.

Released in May, Love Yourself: Tear, their third album, became the first K-pop release to debut atop the Billboard chart. The repackaged Love Yourself: Answer, released in August, became the second.

The band members are not taking their success for granted.

At one point, in their New York show, Jimin doubled over in tears.

But the most moving moment came from RM. He spoke about how thrilled he was to be in New York, "the place where the music that changed my life was first born".

He expounded on the theme of the tour and the group's recent music. "It feels like I'm using you guys to love myself," he said. "Please use me. Please use BTS to love yourself."

The smiles in the crowd were brighter than any light.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2018, with the headline 'BTS Army marches on in support'. Print Edition | Subscribe