LAWD! This took forever to write!
I legit had… *counts*…three drafts that I scrapped. What’s crazy is I had so much to type even though this was one night only; All I, and my bank account, had to give. Why am I overthinking the details? LOL!
But, it’s finally here for your reading pleasure: our crash and dash to see BTS Speak Yourself Tour in Chicago!
WARNING: This post is long and hardly edited. I’m tired of looking at it.
When I say this was a crash and dash, I truly mean it. My friend and I drove early morning from Cleveland, stopped by the Hello Kitty Café Truck in Westlake, then made it to Sleep Inn near Midway Airport by 2 PM on concert day. We were on our way downtown to the BTS x Live Nation Pop-Up Shop shortly after. Before we knew it, we were on our way home the next day. Did we breathe? I don’t think so.
The weather in Chicago was *insert Alaska Thunderfuck voice* TERRIBLE! This wasn’t normal rain and cold, this was a cut through your bones kinda chill. I was woefully underprepared, no thanks to checking weather reports! Sunny, they said. ZERO chance of rain, then it rained on our way and was misty all day in Chicago. Swear, I wanted to pack light, so I didn’t bring anything other than a thin jacket and my ballet flats. Not only was I freezing, but I also kept stepping in puddles and mud at Soldier Field. By the end of the night, my hands and feet could’ve been amputated.
Regardless, I had only one chance to complete my mission:
- Visit the BTS x Live Nation Pop-Up Shop
- Find Disequil Merch
- Buy Tour Merch
- Die at the Concert
I couldn’t lose!
Originally, my friend and I were to take the transit to the Pop-Up Shop, but she was gracious enough to get us a Lyft since we were an hour away by transit. The driver was real chill and indulged my hyperactivity enough to withstand me asking if his earlobe gauges hurt (to which we learned he just increased the size today! (☉｡☉)), complaining that Blueface is throwing all rappers off-beat, and asking him to cut-off a FL plated minivan trying to jump ahead of us.
Um, excuse me, this Chicago, baby! You can’t just barge in. Fend for yourself! *Doesn’t really mean any of this since there’s hardly any traffic in Cleveland and traffic in Chicago sucks* But we had somewhere important to be! (๑•̀ㅂ•́)و
We get to the Pop-Up Shop and the line was hundreds of people deep, from the shop door and around an entire city block. The only consolation was the representation of all ages, ethnicities, sizes, and gender was admirable, and they all desired to buy these overpriced designs by Live Nation. I just wanted the free slap bracelet =P
My friend and I were getting out of the Lyft (I’m sure our driver misses us T.T) and I tell her, maybe we can ask for bracelets and get the hell outta here. She told me, she’ll watch me ask LOL!
I set off to find an employee in what was an embarrassingly long amount of circling in one spot, looking confused while mumbling to myself, “I don’t see any employees! Where’s the door?! Why are there no employees?! Will people think I’m cutting the line? How can people walk into a building with only one way in and one way out, without any employees outside?! Even a club has bouncers!” Literally, the door would swing open and a select few would walk in before the door slammed shut. Did the door even have a handle?? Meanwhile, my friend is waiting against something, looking comfortable.
Then I spot him, THE ONLY representative that appeared to be working outside, complete in a personal jacket and regular looking jeans. The walkie-talkie and him opening the exit door set my sensors off. LOL!
“Excuse me, how long is the wait?” I was on a whole. ‘Notha. Level. My introvertedness was nowhere to be seen.
“Three hours.” THREE M-FING HOURS?! Oh hell no, we ain’t got time for that!
“Oh no! My friend and I drove all the way from Cleveland to see the concert tonight. It starts at 7.” Pure defeatism in my body language and disappointment all over my face.
Aaaaaaaand LIFTOFF! My strange hyperactive charm engaged the employee in a conversation about the wait time, how most ARMY are finagling it, how he got the job (he knows people?!), and eventually I tell him, “I just want a slap bracelet.”
His movements were “say no more” quick. I barely finished my sentence before he opened the door and reemerged with ONE slap bracelet. I thanked him profusely, then asked for another one for my friend. “NOPE! Should’ve asked then. They gave me a hard time with this one!” Needless to say, I apologized profusely to my friend -_-; (Sorry!).
DISSSSEEEQUILLLL MERCH! Ya’ll! I’ve been aching to add their glow-in-the-dark Speak Yourself Tour pin to my collection and it just so happened the merchant was going to be a Soldier Field. I couldn’t miss this opportunity. The anxiety set in when I learned I had to find Disequil by Twitter stalking.
I’ve wrote how my friend and I ran into Big Hit Staff before. They ab-so-lutely DO NOT want anyone except them selling any merch on tour grounds.
Ooooooo, they want their money! They were looking to bust merch and fan sites like it’s their only mission. There were also a few scares circulating online that cops were busting fan sites, giving them court orders and throwing their merch away O-O! So you can imagine Disequil wasn’t playing any games.
One moment, Disequil was on the outskirts of Soldier Field Campus, then they were someplace else. Suddenly, they were traveling to a donut shop and announced they’d only be there briefly. I legit @ them like DO NOT MOVE! I’M COMING! T_T! So, in the frigid, misty air, by bus, we finally caught up with the merchant. I not only get the SY tour pin, but also prints of their MONO series pin collection!
By now, everyone should know RM is my bias and his album, MONO, had me deep in reflection after its release. I collect so many pins to show my love of RM and his intellect that it’s ridiculous. It’s no surprise that I needed to have the MONO prints too. The details in the design and the embodiment of each song within the artwork of the pins are overwhelming. Dissu even explains each design because they’re that incredible! Not only did I buy the prints, but I also bought the pins when Dissu reopened their shop.
Last, but not least, we had to hook my friend up with tour merch!
At Love Yourself in Chicago, there was only one place to buy merch, in the desolate asphalt lot across from United Center at the giant white circus tent. This time, there were DOZENS of merch sites: outdoor trailers and kiosks and storefronts inside Soldier Field. By the time we got there around 6 pm, there were no ridiculous wait times and almost everything was in stock. The downside was not all merch spots had the same inventory. This meant, not all the same size tees were in stock at every location – which tees were exactly what my friend was on the hunt for.
We’d go to a trailer and they’d have the tee, but not in the wanted size; then, we’d go to another site and they wouldn’t have the tee. In hopes the next site would have the tee, we’d walk up to the counter and find they had a completely different set of tees or completely different inventory! Eventually, my friend had enough, got what she could with the promise to search again after the concert, and we headed to security to be seated.
Why didn’t we check the giant white circus tent you might ask? The mecca for all merch? Because they were ON THE GRASS! It was swamp muddy. Like, devour your ballet flats muddy. The worst part is the lonely UNO Experience tent was waaaaaaay across the sloppy wet field with no one paying it any attention. T_T
Security was QUICK! I was shivering with cold and excitement knowing I wouldn’t have long before I’d be seated. I double-checked my clear, stadium approved bag: no liquids ✔, ARMY bomb ✔, Umbrella ✔ – when the security personnel caught my eye, “They won’t let you bring in an umbrella.” Ya’ll, when it was our turn, they wanted me to discard a premium umbrella, gifted to me by my manager, that folds outwards to trap any wetness from the rain AND has a flashlight on the handle. The guard offers directions to the locker area. Thanks!
We trek to find the lockers that were supposed to be on a simple pathway around the corner. It was around the building and through a tunnel, on the side of a road. These were portable gym lockers for $10! After gawking at the price, I made sure to put as much as I could in there LOL!
There was a bit of a panic on my end because there were at least 20 people working the registers and locking up peoples’ things, but it appeared the line wasn’t moving quick enough to catch the show on time. Luckily, we got a locker, raced back to Soldier Field, practically flew through the security line and made it to our seats in time with 30 minutes to spare. We didn’t miss a thing!
If you’ve never been to a k-pop concert, there’s a pregame after doors open for seating. Music videos play and fans turn on their lightsticks for a sing-a-long. It’s no different at Speak Yourself. ARMY were singing to various music videos with their ARMY Bombs on. I could feel the energy in the air from everyone’s anticipation. The girl next to me was so excited about her first BTS concert that she immediately started talking to me about it.
Finally, without prompting, the first VCR came on, and then…Dionysus.
Note: Pairing the ARMY Bomb was a bih! I must’ve paired it with the Big Hit app at least five times with horrible cell phone reception until I realized I just had to move the switch from Bluetooth to on after paring LOL!
I did not watch a single recording of Dionysus before the concert. At first, in all honesty, I was burnt out. BTS releases so much media that I just needed a break, but this was the perfect opportunity for a surprise while being engulfed in so much sensation. From that point on, I purposefully refrained from watching Dionysus so I could be murdered in the Soldier Field stands…and the impact did not disappoint!
The background lit up across huge LCD panels, giant silver tigers inflated across the stage, pillars began to appear, fire burst forth and BTS materialized from beneath the stage. It was hardcore! Each member had a look of royalty and disregard. BTS, the song itself, the stage production, the choreo and surplus of dancers…was murrrddeeer.
The rest of the experience was personal. I tried to live in the moment as much as possible; although I did get some footage, the rest of the experience turned into amazing memories. Of course, I do have other highlights I want to share!
1. THEY’S RICH! Somebody on their team said eff this budget! We straight flexin’! There were lasers, pyrotechnics, lights, beautiful LCD backgrounds, special effects for video feeds to the monitors, twice the amount of back-up dancers than at Love Yourself, inflatables and intricate light oceans (one that formed a galaxy!) throughout the concert. I’ve never seen nor heard of a concert like this.
Plus, every stage got a glow-up: a conveyor belt on Suga’s stage, Jin’s intergalactic piano, Jay’s sleeker dance platform, RM’s Disney Magic wand, JK flying around the stadium, Jimin popping the bubble he appeared in, and V’s massive, sexy bed. The medley portion was even standardized so every tour stop could see Baepsae hip thrusts.
I was blown away by how Big Hit could take the same setlist, add a few songs from Persona and still outdo themselves. And at the very end, with ARMY singing to Mikrokosmos, the BTS logo ascended towards the stars as a year’s worth of fireworks erupted behind it. It was the most picturesque ending to a concert and incredibly heartfelt.
2. The light ocean was phenomenal. We were in space y’all! Soooooooo many colors and each light ocean matched the set. I frequently took time to look around the stadium and we’d be surrounded by rhythms of pulsing, colorful lights. Sometimes, clusters of lights would form circles or gradients. We were floating in a galaxy during Epiphany. It was beautiful and really whisked me away to somewhere magical.
3. Jimin was genuinely concerned for our health. He told us to stay warm and to not catch a cold. There were plenty of ARMY that had to look cute without a thin jacket, and Jimin gestured to one fan by rubbing his arms like aren’t you cold?! If memory serves correctly, he even posted for ARMY to take a bath when they got home (or was that Day 2?).
I haven’t put as much emphasis on the horrible weather as I should have, but it was hella cold! So much so that BTS looked overwhelmed. My hands and feet were numb FOR HOURS, during and after the concert! I really couldn’t fumble anymore for my phone when RM asked us to turn on our “technology,” for the third time that night. By the time my friend and I got back to the hotel, my feet were so cold, not even laying in a warm bed, with the heat cranked up, could warm them up.
3. JK said “It’s been a while,” like he’s been living in The States for years without ARMY knowing. His English improved greatly and I was so proud.
4. V’s massive sexy bed could fit eight people, but instead, only he teased us from it. And the special effects! Singularity is about how someone could live opposite their true feelings, under an acceptable guise. The monitor would focus on V, then split his image into two colors and have one move to the left and the right. It made him look as if his person was being pulled in different directions, perhaps his true feelings and his guise, with his physical body, the one that has to live with this internal conflict at the center. It was overpowering and very slick.
5. BTS and Big Hit fully invested in ARMY. The show was tied up so nicely that it really felt like ARMY was loved and appreciated. It’s a double whammy when BTS goes live on VLive or posts to Twitter afterward. This is why post-concert depression (PCD) is real. It’s also why ARMY buy tickets for both concert dates at multiple tour stops. The interaction and affection are second to none. No other artists do it better.
6. People love to interrupt me during Tear. This isn’t a highlight, but I think I’m cursed to have someone tap me on the shoulder, or walk in front of me to get to their seats during one of my most favorite sets, during my favorite part where Jay just goes in and owns the thang like the rest of the rap line ain’t there. Will I ever see it all the way through? LOL!
I could talk about the usual things like Flying Jungkook, singing along to Epiphany, all the shenanigans during the Anpanman obstacle course, or chanting J-Hope during Just Dance, but those things have already completed the social media circuit. These highlights are my best experiences and impressions during the show. There are definitely takeaways that I learned that may be helpful in the future:
1. Don’t trust weather forecasts! They can change. Just pack in case of crummy weather, especially transitioning seasons.
2. If Big Hit keeps accommodating shorter merch lines, there may no longer be obscene waits unless ARMY wills it so.
3. So what if you don’t get floor seats? Sitting in the stands is still excellent! My friend and I were able to snag seats on the third level, center stage. It was perfect. We could see the stage and monitors head-on. Any antics from the boys were clearly visible. Most people will tell you that sitting on the floor level is overrated. You can see everything clearly from the upper levels without people hogging your view!
4. Staying close to the concert decreases commuter time when leaving the show. I didn’t mention it before, but it took us 2-3 hours to get back to the hotel because 60,000 fans were all leaving at the same time (and because of the Stadium’s poor direction of pedestrian traffic and Lyft drivers being a-holes ( ͒˃⌂˂ ͒)). On the other hand, we had a cheaper stay at a nice hotel, with a full breakfast included, by staying further from the city center.
5. Immerse yourself into the concert! You catch more visually and can feel more of the experience. Granted, you won’t have videos and pictures, but as I fumbled with my phone, I lamented not capturing a moment on time and missed out on the full sensation of being present. To up the ante, bring an ARMY Bomb since the show is an interactive experience.
6. Lastly, don’t crash and dash! Due to a tight-TIGHT schedule, my friend and I couldn’t catch up with our ARMY friends. Don’t do this! The stress was horrid. Please take your time. There’s more to see, plenty of people to connect with and lots of good food downtown. Stay a bit and relax.
All in all, Speak Yourself in Chicago was bomb, from the insane opening to the ethereal ARMY send-off at the end. This laser light space show in an ARMY Bomb galaxy was completely and utterly magical. All ARMY should have a chance to experience it and if BTS continues their reign as artists and Big Hit keeps a bottomless budget, the next tour will be the most spectacular yet!
~PHOTO AND VIDEO BOMB!~