ARMY FIELD NOTES VOL. 02: WHERE WERE YOU WHEN JK'S EYEBROW PIERCING WAS REVEALED?
Editor's Note: We're introducing a new series by BTS evangelists Liz Hew and Jana DeGuzman. Each volume is a curated-yet-comprehensive update on what BTS have been up to, whether it's an an ad release, studio session, V-live stream, magazine cover, online interview, award nomination, show appearance, mixtape teaser -- the list goes on, and our correspondents are on it.
It’s 2:30 am. I’m in sweats, I’ve already done my skincare routine, and I’m struggling to stay awake. I napped from 11:30 pm to midnight in hopes of avoiding this feeling, but I remain exhausted. Why am I doing this to myself? Because day 1 of BTS’s 2021 Muster concert starts at 6 pm KST and I absolutely must watch it live.
The concert is a part of Festa, a yearly celebration of BTS’s debut in 2013. Festa typically lasts around 2 weeks and treats fans to a plethora of new content, including the Muster, a 2 day live-streamed concert event. This year’s Muster, titled “Sowoozoo” or “microcosmos” in Korean, broke viewership records for a live-streaming event with over 1.33 million fans from all over the world tuning in. Remarkable, sure, but the boys shattering this particular record isn’t surprising.
ARMY (the official name of the BTS fanbase), is known for showing up. When emotional pop ballad Spring Day nearly dropped out of the Melon Top 100 for the first time since its release in 2017, Armies were quick to jump in; they alerted the Twitter community, directed them to stream, and successfully saved its streak. When BTS donated 1 million dollars to Black Lives Matter in June of last year, ARMY matched it. As RM sings in BTS’s latest summer bop, ‘Butter,’ they’ve “got ARMY right behind us when we say so.”
Day 1 of the 2021 Muster was remarkable for a few reasons, aside from the angelic vocals, hard-hitting rap, and bright, energetic choreo we’re used to seeing from BTS. Let’s start with the setlist. Along with beloved concert staples like ‘So What,’ ‘Idol,’ and ‘Fire,’ were the first-ever live performances of ‘Stay’ and ‘Fly to My Room.’ Both part of the 2020 album Be, which was released in quarantine, ‘Fly To My Room’ reflects on the claustrophobia and monotony of shelter-in-place, coupled with the importance of appreciating the little things; the small joys. Jimin, V, Suga, and J-Hope (VMinSope, if you will) perform the song in a larger-than-life rendering of a room the group curated for ARMY earlier this year, taking elements from each member’s drawings. The performance is loose, easy; no choreo, just messages of solidarity and comfort, shared directly with their fans.
‘Stay’ by RM, Jin, and Jungkook, is a bit more upbeat; the poppy EDM track laments how much the group misses their fans, though their connection to each other always remains. The track communicates a strong sense of longing (to be together, for things to be as they were), but the overall sentiment of the performance feels hopeful. Someday, BTS will be physically able to reunite with their fans, and perhaps then, ‘Stay’ will feel less like longing, and more like relief.
Then, there was the first ever live performance of ‘Daewitchta,’ a track from Suga’s second mixtape, D-2, released under his other stage name, Agust D. Agust D plays two different characters in the music video - a modern character, dressed in streetwear and silver chains, and a tyrannical, Joseon-era king. The music video takes place primarily in the courtyard of a palace and in a bustling marketplace, both of which were recreated for the Muster.
As the track begins, you think you know what to expect - Suga / Agust D will rap his heart out, perhaps split his time between the modern and historical king characters. At the very last second, it’s Jimin who starts rapping instead.
As impactful as any performance of Daewitchta would be, Suga sharing this song with his members feels particularly special. Jimin starts us off with a bang. Jin and Jungkook recreate the marketplace brawl scene from their cameo in the music video. RM and J-Hope deliver with precision, while still bringing their unique rap styles to their verses, and V absolutely gets his life in a deadpan expression and fake beard that have spawned a thousand memes. As for Suga - it’s his song, and everyone knows it. The performance is every bit as fun as it is impressive and memorable - and that’s saying a lot.
I could also write a novel about the styling of this concert. The buttery yellows and soft whites of their entrance looks (within which, they of course performed ‘Butter’). A t-shirt worn by Jin during ‘Stay,’ with the word ‘exotic’ across the center in loopy hot pink cursive. J-Hope’s cream and pale blue 2-piece set, the bold geometric pattern snaking down it.
And I would be remiss to not call out the styling of Jungkook in particular - the crop top! The short sleeved Fendi button up! The short sleeves period - for context, this concert marked one of the first times Jungkook’s arms have been visible in a performance since he started his tattoo sleeve. And of course, the elephant in the room - the eyebrow piercing. After he revealed that his eyebrow piercing in ‘Butter’ was fake, fans assumed this one must be as well. And yet...there seems to be a visible barbell here...that moves when he raises his eyebrows...I want to believe that it’s real, so I will.
The concert ends with its namesake, “Microkosmos” - a sweet track that likens individuals to stars, each special, all lighting up the night together. V asks fans to open their windows, turn on their phone flashlights just like they would at a concert, and wave them outside; some fans even caught glimpses of lights shining out of other windows nearby. Once again, though they couldn’t be with their fans physically, BTS aimed to comfort them, bring them together, and remind them that they’re not alone.
Before the concert, one of the earlier releases for Festa was ‘Bicycle,’ a new original song by RM. Released on YouTube, the laid-back acoustic track invites the listener to relax; to accept their emotions, good or bad, and feel free anyways.
Especially now, as the world opens up again, this song feels warm and comforting. Like a gentle hand guiding me somewhere once familiar, soothing me as it gets stuck in my head. Though things might be on the upswing, many (myself included) need that comfort now more than ever. As I go through the motions, these words stay with me and remind me not to be afraid: “the really precious things are invisible, take your feet off the ground.”