After a long hiatus caused by the global epidemic, concerts resumed in 2022. Still, SEVENTEEN’s new tour may be the first to successfully recreate the unique sense of community that makes going to a live show unforgettable.
The last night of the Be the Sun tour, which was held at Newark’s Prudential Center and featured K-pop boy band SEVENTEEN, demonstrated how audiences could bond with each other thanks to technology, production, and the members of the band.
The official SEVENTEEN lightsticks, a must-have merchandise item for each K-pop fan that instantly identifies you as a core member of your fandom, were a significant factor in fostering a welcoming atmosphere. Similar to the lightsticks used by many K-pop acts, the ones worn by SEVENTEEN can be made to glow and flash in a wide variety of colors, with the brightness and intensity adjusted using a phone app connected through Bluetooth.
At a concert, the artist crew operates the software so that all of the sticks in the arena pulse and flash to the song’s beat. The light sticks, dubbed “Carat Bongs” to incorporate the group’s fandom name of Carats, helped create a more intimate musical experience by glowing red and yellow during the pyrotechnic opening moments of “HOT” and “March” and gently glowing white and pink between intermissions.
As the night progressed, the production team behind the tour tried to set the mood by showcasing the various groups of people who came out to watch SEVENTEEN. Viewers in the arena had plenty of time to take in and register the many placards as the cameras panned over the crowd to highlight attendees on the massive screens surrounding the venue.
Banners from all over the world, including identity-focused flags like the QTPOC Pride Flag, were displayed alongside fan-made posters with messages like “Mexicans love SEVENTEEN” and “They/Thems for Hoshi.”
Even though K-pop isn’t usually political, the band’s decision to include these tribes and groups was a subtle approach to reaffirm their commitment to equal rights.
As a present to SEVENTEEN, the tour’s production team urged fans at the final North American stop of the Be the Sun tour to study and perform a snippet of the song “Smile Flower,” a touching ballad from 2016.
A message said, “Here in the last city of the North American Tour in Newark, there is a special event for SEVENTEEN: After the photo shoot time at the end of the show, we will sing ‘Smile Flower’ all together for SEVENTEEN,” on the arena screens before the boys came back for the encore. It pleaded, “Please learn the song and the lyrics for ‘Smile Flower’ soon,” and included a part with the lyrics written both in Korean and Romanization.
Although the vivid orange text color made it difficult to memorize—and SEVENTEEN later laughed about the audience’s fairly mediocre singing—the intention to bring the listener closer to the artist in yet another way was clear.
However, SEVENTEEN didn’t only rely on the technical and production staff; they actively participated in fostering a sense of camaraderie among concertgoers.
The night’s highlight was undoubtedly when the crew spotted a fan dancing in the upper deck of Prudential Center dressed as a glowing, LED-equipped “stickman.” Hoshi pointed out the “stick man,” who was a lady (thus the name), to the other 13 people in the group.
The performers tried to get to know certain audience members by name and included them in the performance by having them sing snippets of different songs. At the end of the show, before “Snap Shoot” and “VERY NICE,” Seungkwan went down to the floor to have Carats sing the verses into his microphone so that the rest of the band could sing the choruses. During the three-hour concert, SEVENTEEN and its fans could interact face to face for the first time in years.
In Newark, all 13 members of SEVENTEEN could say goodbye before the North American leg of the Be the Sun tour came to a close.
Even though four members were sick with COVID-19 and had to miss concert dates (and an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel) throughout the run, it was extremely vital to the guys that they all be there for the last performance.
First thing in the act, Joshua told the crowd, “We’re so thrilled to be back as 13 for you guys today,” His fellow band members reiterated that feeling throughout the rest of the show.
The boy band SEVENTEEN undoubtedly knows the importance of staying together and leaning on one another, both figuratively (one quickly lost count of how many times the members would carry one another on piggyback) and literally (they opened up to Billboard about the “hardship” of negotiating contracts for all 13 members to continue forward as SEVENTEEN). As a result of the concert happening after more than 2.5 years of COVID worries, it felt even more monumental.