I finally got to see my favorite band perform after almost three years

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Image used with permission from Esther Oh

Seniors Esther Oh (left) and Tara Kim (right) attended the first night of the BTS Permission to Dance On Stage show at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. For the first time since October 2019, BTS held concerts for fans, performing songs like “Life Goes On,” “Black Swan” and “Dis-ease.”

Esther Oh

I felt beyond devastated when I saw that the BTS Map of the Soul tour was officially canceled.  I would get a refund for my hard-earned tickets, which I had been desperately holding onto since February 2020, waiting for a rescheduled date for over a year. 

Three of my BTS ARMY — short for Adorable Representative M.C for Youth — friends and I had been counting down the days we would see our favorite band perform again, so when we saw the official announcement Aug. 19, we felt defeated. Even thinking about having to fight thousands of old and new fans to buy close-up seats sent shivers down my spine.

Then I received an email Sept. 27 from Ticketmaster : “Due to the prior cancelation of your BTS MAP OF THE SOUL TOUR show, you have been issued a unique code that may be used to purchase tickets early to BTS PERMISSION TO DANCE ON STAGE – LA coming to SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles November 27 & 28 and December 1 & 2.”

My canceled tickets had given me an advantage in fighting against millions of other ARMYs for a front seat to the seven idols’ first live concert since 2019. 

Wednesday, Oct. 6 — 3 p.m. For 40 minutes straight, I glued my eyes to the Ticketmaster website, clacking away at my MacBook keyboard until the confirmation site for two P1 tickets to the Nov. 27 show finally graced the screen. 

The months turned to weeks, weeks to days, days to hours and the hours to minutes; finally, my friend, senior Tara Kim, and I found ourselves in front of the SoFi Stadium with ARMY bombs  — the group’s official light stick — in our hands. 

Having arrived at the stadium at 6 p.m., we had an hour and a half to have security check our bags and vaccination cards and get ourselves seated before the show started. 

Thousands of ARMYs lined the perimeter of the stadium anxiously waiting to enter and find their seats, yet security seemed too overwhelmed by the crowd to handle the issue in an organized manner. Kim and I, lost in the sea of frantic people pushing to enter, worried that we would not make it in time. 

The rush of the crowd prevented security from properly checking bags, vaccination cards or tickets, causing everyone to worry about safety. There were still many fans outside when the band started performing, but we managed to make it right before the show started and let out a sigh of relief. 

Screams filled the stadium as the show started off with a pre-recorded video of the members, followed by the first song, “ON.” The group appeared onstage as videos of each member taking mugshots played with each of their solo screen time. 

I was seated in section 119 row 7, which gave me a close view of the stage filled with the members and back-up dancers.

The show — which lasted about 3 hours — exceeded every and all expectations I held. The band performed a total of 24 songs, including their Billboard Hot 100 hits “Dynamite,” “Butter” and “Permission to Dance,” along with songs from their most recent album BE, released November 2020, and medleys of their older songs. 

Unlike their previous shows, the band only performed full group songs, meaning there were no solo or unit performances. I personally wanted to hear “Inner Child” sung by member V and “UGH!” by RM, SUGA and J-hope, so I was slightly disappointed, but the other stages definitely made up for it. 

What was special to me was seeing the group finally perform “ON,” the lead single from their fourth studio album Map of the Soul: 7, live, as they had never been able to perform it in front of their fans because of the pandemic. 

About two hours into the concert, I saw the members hop on an orange cart that was moving around the first level of seats during the song “Telepathy,” and realized that they would be coming to my section. Before I was able to think, I found myself running down the rows and into a sea of people all wanting to be as close as they could. Not caring about what others thought of me, I squeezed through to the very front of the section, just as the cart made its way towards me.

My dream had come true; I saw all seven members approximately three feet away from me. I was so shocked at how real they were, since I’ve only seen them onstage or on my screen. 

During the short intermission, the BTS concert ritual of an “ARMY bomb wave” — a time when all the fans in the stadium perform a wave with the lit up ARMY bombs — was happening, which brought back memories from the previous shows I went to, prior to the pandemic. 

Finally, the group finished their first night with “Permission to Dance.” As the members made their way backstage while waving, I realized the day I had looked forward to for almost three years, since the May 2019 concert at the Rose Bowl, was over. 

As Kim and I walked out of the stadium, we kept repeating the words “I can die happily now,” as we both experienced an amazing night. 

We both agreed that overall, the Rose Bowl concert, which we went to together, was better, since the setlist and scale of the props, like Jungkook flying during his “Euphoria” performance, the bounce houses during “Anpanman” and the large scale fireworks, were honestly unbeatable. But  since we were able to see the group so up close at this concert, this experience too was beyond explanation. 

Now, I am looking forward to the world tour that will allegedly be held in 2022, starting in Seoul in March. Meanwhile, I will be supporting the band by listening to their music, watching new and old content and interacting with the members on social media platforms such as Twitter, Weverse and Instagram.