As Fuse noted yesterday, the screams when BTS' leader and main rapper Rap Monster popped up as an unexpected MC for Day 1's concert at KCON 2016 New York were some of the loudest in the Prudential Center, but they'd nearly pale in comparison to when he and his full group took to arena's massive stage. While the K-pop boy band is now famous for their mind-bogglingly in-synch choreography, the performance and its setlist proved why BTS is truly at a headliner status when it comes to meeting international fans.
Greeted by near-deafening screams as fellow performers Ailee and Eric Nam introduced them, BTS were raised from below the concert stage as the seven members excitedly shouted at the audience, further sending them into a tizzy. The group opened with a precise performances of 2016 singles "Fire" and "Save Me," with the latter track particularly rousing up the crowd on the dance breakdown.
But what might have been most telling about BTS' superstar status is what followed after their latest singles. For their third song, the septet moved into "Boyz With Fun," an album cut from 2015's The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 1 EP. Instead of opting for Part 1's lead single "I Need U"—the breakout music moment for the band that secured their first hit in their domestic Korea—the boys chose another track on the release. Though, "Boyz With Fun" wasn't too foreign for fans as the group performed the song on Korean music chart shows and fans could join in on the choreography they may have studied from YouTube—with BTS ending with a particularly a dazzling dance spout at the end.
But then BTS continued to push further away from their noted releases with their fourth song choice as their "BTS Cypher, Pt.3: Killer" track off 2014 album Dark&Wild. Hip-hop fans know that cyphers are one-of-a-kind moments, but here was BTS delivering one of theirs for the 18,000-strong crowd. Of even more note, BTS didn't need to rely on totally pre-planned stage movements and choreography but instead worked the stage as they pleased and still enchanted the audience.
The group didn't spend a ton of time talking with the crowd, but it was clear they were taking in every moment—perhaps best seen when member Suga took off his ear piece to truly hear the audience's screams before greeting them. BTS ended their set with international favorite "Dope," but the reaction they elicited earlier truly proves BTS' stronghold in the American market. BTS can be confident and take a risk performing something other than the hits everyone knows in an international arena setting and that's something only a handful artists can do.
Stay tuned for interviews with Ailee, BToB, Eric Nam and loads more with all things KCON coming to Fuse soon. Check out all our on-the-ground coverage here. Below, watch us take a tour of all the food at KCON 2016 New York.