With two nights at Allegiant Stadium in tandem with viewing parties at MGM’s Grand Garden Arena, merch-adorned hotel rooms, a Korean food cafe and exclusive pop-ups, the BTS ARMY turned out for “BTS Permission to Dance The City,” blanketing the Strip with dance party vibes, light “bombs,” TinyTan and buckets of tears (of joy).
While BTS performed “Permission to Dance” multidate concerts in both Seoul and Los Angeles, their fans knew that Las Vegas would be different. Lit up like “Dynamite,” Las Vegas showed up for the BTS ARMY with a never-before-seen takeover of events leading into the weekend’s live performances on April 8 and 9, which captivated all on their own with a symphony of lights, harmonious lyrics and fervent dance. If you haven’t seen BTS live, it is an unforgettable, unrivaled experience that has new recruits enlisting with every song.
“Tonight is a very special night,” said BTS member RM, addressing the crowd during the April 9 night encore. “Of course, we have a BTS concert with 50,000 ARMYs … I had my first American trip when I was 15. It was 2009 and the last stop was Las Vegas. But what caught my mind was the neon, the lights and the people’s faces, they all looked happy. So I was like, when I grow up, and if I earn some money, I’ll definitely come back and enjoy Las Vegas.”
He continued, “It feels really strange, because at 15 I was thinking about giving up the music and going back to studying again. I never thought that I would come back and [have] these amazing stays with all of my lovely friends. Thank you for my coming back to Las Vegas — making this, tonight, very special. And I want to tell the little RM from 15 years old, your life and your next Las Vegas will be amazing.”
The teenage dream did indeed come to fruition as BTS “Permission to Dance” gave the crowd just that — nonstop license to feel the music for two and a half hours. While much of the flow and content didn’t appear to vary from the previous versions of “Permission to Dance,” the experience remained transformative and fresh for the audience, which poured in from destinations all around the world. Starting promptly at 7:30 p.m., the videos for the hits “Dynamite” and “Butter” played as a sea of ARMY bombs, or light sticks, turned purple in chorus. They were followed by a video vignette known as “VCR,” showing BTS as prisoners in an interrogation room, escaping their shackles and becoming free — permission to dance granted? Presumably, so.
BTS first appeared onstage for a high-energy Act One with songs such as “On,” “Fire,” “Dope” and “DNA,” sporting red and white tracksuits. Alongside dozens of dancers in white, light sticks turned to red across the stadium for “Fire.”
During a “VCR 2” video vignette, the seven-member group play pool, dance and hang out, prior to their emergence for the next act, where the show turns dramatic in tone. Act Two feels as if it is the real start to the “Permission to Dance” manifesto, the crowd of swooning, screaming, adulating fans growing moreso with every chord.
The poignant and beautiful “Black Swan” filled the stage as the large troupe of dancers, now also clad in black, wore plumed sleeves. Remnants of feathers floated through the air as the movement surrounding the band members became more exaggerated, each with a chain accent on their black suits. The stunning staging of “Fake Love,” set amid a verdant sculpture of outstretched hands transforming into a lotus blossom, closed out this set.
In “VCR 3,” we find BTS in a hotel room, getting ready to stage an epic party, and then finding a case of magic. With one touch in the video, a rain of rainbow confetti covers the audience, linking what we see on the screen and to joy in real life.
Act Three brings with it BTS’s biggest hits in the U.S., including “Dynamite” and “Butter.” Outfitted in Easter egg pastels with a nod to ’70s glam chic, the band’s stylized dance moves were reminiscent of Saturday Night Fever and matched the carefree lyrics, as did the pyro and fireworks, which punctuated all the major moments. J-Hope’s pink fedora stole the show.
Giving fans a glimpse of Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, Jin and Jungkook up close, the band circled the audience on two orange construction lifts, perched atop encased purple balloons. During “Wings,” flowers, stuffed animals and other tokens of appreciation showered down from the crowd.
Heading into the extended encore, BTS closed their main set with a thunderous, animalistic “Idol” wrought with ecstatic dance moves.
In a 30-minute slice of the encore, each BTS member had a chance to address the crowd. The most noticeable difference between Saturday’s show and the previous night’s came during the encore. Friday night’s closer was packed with “Home,” “Airplane Pt. 2,” “Silver Spoon” and “Dis-ease.” On Saturday, the ARMY was treated to the unmissable “Anpanman” and “Go Go,” before large glowing orbs floated through the stadium for the closing eponymous song “Permission to Dance.”
Flashes of Jungkook’s abs, poster’s of J-Hope’s meme-able “Wow,” Jimin’s new haircut, Jin’s injured hand and V’s references to Johnny Depp in Cry-Baby barely satiated the insatiable ARMY.
“BTS Permission to Dance” proved the supply chain on rainbow confetti is not broken, nor is their fans’ hunger for band-related content.
On the business side, “The City” shifts the paradigm on the concert business model — stretching an artist’s IP well beyond merch and meet and greets, into new territories.
The concept, an “urban concert playpark,” creates an extensive and immersive fan experience with entertainment activations for fans to enjoy before and after the concerts. Las Vegas is the perfect testing ground for such an event.
Through this partnership with HYBE, the management behind BTS, MGM Resorts offers BTS -themed rooms in 11 hotels across the Las Vegas Strip and Korean dishes favored by BTS at the CAFÉ IN THE CITY. The Bellagio Fountains feature BTS’ “Butter” and “Dynamite” in a new water display.
At Area 15, an art and entertainment attraction located off the Strip, ARMY accessed the “BTS Pop-Up: Permission to Dance,” ongoing through April 17, a free ticketed immersive journey through the band’s history, music videos and moments with exclusive merchandise. Also, a $25 ticketed photography “Behind the Stage” features behind-the-scene photography of the making of “Permission to Dance.”
And as the rainbow streamers settle, it’s time to do it all over again next weekend, as BTS returns in concert April 15 and 16 with a livestream event on the closing night.