“It’s been a long, long time. Hello, ARMY!” BTS‘ V yelled to the cheering crowd that packed Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium on Sunday. For their first offline concert in two years, superstar Korean boy band BTS — Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook — returned to the stage with the four-day concert series “BTS Permission to Dance On Stage – LA,” with the first two shows on Saturday and Sunday.
With the upper balconies of the venue brimming with fans, the septet distributed light sticks to concertgoers that glowed with different colors and patterns throughout the show. As the light sticks were activated during various segments, the group involved fans from every level of the stadium and created a more intimate connection between the boys and the audience. At one point, the light sticks spelled out words like “BTS” and “ARMY.”
As a treat to their longtime fans, BTS performed early classics such as “Save Me” from 2016’s The Most Beautiful Moment in Life: Young Forever and “Fake Love” from 2018’s Love Yourself: Tear, along with newer hits like “Life Goes On” from 2020’s BE and their English-language tracks “Butter,” “Dynamite” and, of course, “Permission to Dance.”
After earning six No. 1s on the Billboard Hot 100 in 13 months (starting with “Dynamite” in August 2020 through “My Universe” with Coldplay in September), BTS were revved up and ready to go, as evidenced by their high-energy performance and roaring response from their fans. From a special guest appearance to adorable between-song moments, here are the five best things that happened at BTS’ Los Angeles concert on Sunday.
1. Kicking it off with “On”
At 7:30 p.m. PT, concertgoers felt vibrations across the stadium as the lights dimmed and the seven members of BTS opened the show with “On” from Map of the Soul: 7, which was released just a few weeks before the pandemic. Dressed in all-white, BTS were backed by drummers and dancers, reminiscent of a marching band.
With a full production including red fireworks in just the first song, the performance signaled the band’s triumphant return to live concerts following their canceled world tour due to COVID-19, and set the bar high for the rest of the setlist.
2. Getting close to the band: “We’re going to you!”
During their performance of “Telepathy,” BTS surprised the audience by taking a lap around the circumference of the stadium floor. Standing atop orange platforms on wheels, three of the members started on the right side of the stage and the other four started on the left. The platforms then made their way around the floor as fans leaned over the balcony to get closer to the pop stars.
The move was just one of the ways the band created a more intimate show for those sitting further away. BTS also made sure to play to the cameras onstage, which were then projected on the stadium’s 70,000-square-foot big screen for the whole crowd to see clearly.
3. Megan Thee Stallion’s surprise appearance
Donning a pink bodysuit and matching knee-high boots, the “Savage” rapper joined the band onstage to perform their “Butter” remix. Megan Thee Stallion was scheduled to join BTS during the American Music Awards on Nov. 21 but pulled out of the performance at the last minute citing an “unexpected personal matter.”
“We feel sad for the AMAs, but now you’re here!” RM said when Meg hit the stage. Before bowing out, the rapper expressed her gratitude for having the opportunity to make up for the AMAs, saying, “Thank y’all for having me!”
4. Jin’s pigtails
After BTS’ final costume change, Jin returned with pigtails tied in red bows to close out the concert. In an adorable moment between songs, Jin and the members playfully channeled the popular Netflix show Squid Game. With Jin’s hairstyle mirroring the South Korean show’s “Red Light, Green Light” doll, the other members jokingly sang the tune featured prominently during the episode as Jin looked back at the audience, mimicking the doll’s actions during the scene.
5. BTS’ heartfelt message to their fans
Rounding out the show, BTS took turns sharing how much playing in front of their fans means to each of them. Through a translator, J-Hope shared his message first with: “This is probably the only night we’ll speak in Korean.” He continued, saying: “This is a very meaningful concert for you guys. But I think the concert is going to be a big part of my history and my memory too. This is also gonna be really meaningful to me. I hope that tonight was a highlight for your own story and your own life memories.”
Jimin also took the mic and said, “Today, I’m also gonna speak in Korean because I really want to share how I feel in more detail.” Jimin added: “To be honest, I don’t think I could do all that I could do for you guys in the last two years, so it’s an honor and I’m really moved that all of you waited for us.”
Then, RM revealed how he thought he used up all of his energy on the first night of the concert series but that the ARMY gave him strength to keep going. “You guys are the magic,” he shared with the crowd.
Wrapping up the show, purple and white balloons were launched into the crowd as BTS performed their final song, “Permission to Dance.”