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The Power of BTS Selling Out a Stadium & Arenas Throughout America, All on Their Terms

Numberswise, BTS' North American leg of the Love Yourself Tour was a hit. But it also represented something more important about BTS.

Anyone following the meteoric success of BTS may almost — almost — be bored by reading how the Korean septet has continuously broke and surpassed record after record after record, but the conclusion of the North American leg of their Love Yourself world tour stands not only as a testament to their strength as a commercial act, but one that stands its artistic ground by playing by its own rules.


Numbers-wise, venue-wise and media attention-wise, BTS did everything right when it came to the North American leg of their Love Yourself tour. Each show was sold out even as additional dates were added, including their first solo tour dates at arenas like Los Angeles’ Staples Center and Chicago’s United Center. Last month, BTS joined Ed Sheeran and Elton John as one of America’s best-selling touring acts of 2018, including earning the highest per-show average sales, according to a September report from StubHub. The media took notice as loyal BTS Army fans lined up for days to get the best general-admission tickets while the guys also landed major opportunities to perform on Good Morning America and America’s Got Talent, while speaking at the United Nations General Assembly and shooting a cover for Time magazine.  

Successful tour run? You bet. But despite all the mainstream looks and achievements, a deeper examination of the tour shows that BTS was still able to do all of this with a keen awareness of their roots and continuing in a way that has made them the beloved phenoms.

BTS’ Billboard 200-topping Love Yourself: Answer album was released hours before the tour’s first date in Seoul, on Aug. 25, with the guys not only taking the time to perfect new routines for songs like “Idol” and “I’m Fine,” but also deliver performances on Korea’s local music programs like M Countdown, Music Bank and Music Core. The North American leg of the tour would start about a week later, seeing the band playing in three different time zones and two countries in a month’s time. But, still, BTS made sure to deliver and have content on the initial programs that they performed and, likely, where many fans got to see the guys perform live for the first time. 

And despite so much Stateside attention on their new tour, BTS did not seem pressured at all to “Westernize” their show — a key point in their breakout success that stayed intact in this latest trek. English-speaking leader RM would address the crowd in English, as he’s comfortable with the language, but most of the time the remaining six members would speak to the crowd in Korean — both of which delighted fans — with an occasional English shout-out here and there.

The septet also performed their Korean material in the setlist, never feeling a need to add in an English cover moment throughout the shows. The only slight change-up came at the epic, grand-finale stadium date at Citi Field when they performed the Steve Aoki remix of Hot 100 hit “MIC Drop” that incorporates more English lyrics. Even with that remix, BTS didn’t need to pull out a flashy guest appearance from Aoki, or their other big-name collaborators like Nicki Minaj or The Chainsmokers. BTS sold out more than 40,000 seats in 20 minutes because of BTS and their passionate fanbase, and the headlines that followed the next day focused on that. (A curious side note is that BTS actually did guest at a Chainsmokers concert in South Korea in 2017 and garnered the EDM duo additional coverage on K-pop-focused sites.)


Despite the humongous venues, the intimacy between BTS and their fans was not lost either. When member V told tens of thousands at Citi Field “We purple you, I purple you, we all purple you” it continued a long-running, intimate joke between Army and BTS that originated in a late-2016 show in South Korea but was understood by every fan in attendance. Meanwhile, RM would always have a unique speech, garnering up an authentic take on the night in an inspiring, uplifting monologue unique to each concert. 

Even when Jimin was moved to tears at the end of the Citi Field show or when V let a tear drop during “The Truth Untold” at the second night at the Prudential Center, it was a unique display of the sensitive, vulnerable sides BTS has shared. The group has been moved to tears in past milestone events (for example, their win for Album of the Year at the 2016 Melon Music Awards), but every member is allowed to feel and experience what he is feeling with, what seems like, more than additional support from the audience — the cheers of encouragement for Jimin’s tears at Citi Field rivaled the cheers for any song performance.

The U.S. is the biggest music market in the world and one of the most fickle and difficult to navigate, but BTS is further cementing the notion that they play their own rules — and their rules only — and will hit higher highs as a result. Even without any type of playbook to follow, they thrived on an ambitious tour run with a slew of new accomplishments earned. From the music that made them chart-toppers to the intimate jokes that make fans hearts beat just a tick faster, BTS did it all by remaining true to BTS.