SEVENTEEN’s ‘Be the Sun’ Tour Was What We Needed Since COVID

Since the global epidemic of 2022 put a halt to concerts for a while, SEVENTEEN’s new tour may be the first live show to reclaim the communal feeling of connection that makes the live experience so magical.

Even though artists and promoters have been understandably cautious about things like masking and crowd interactions, the last night of SEVENTEEN’s Be the Sun tour at Newark’s Prudential Center was a demonstration of how audiences can reconnect with each other through the use of technology, production, and the K-pop boy band themselves.

The official SEVENTEEN lightsticks, a necessity for every diehard K-pop fan, were largely responsible for the warm and welcoming atmosphere they fostered. Like those of many K-pop acts, the lightsticks for SEVENTEEN can glow and flash in a rainbow of colors, and they can all be controlled by a phone app via Bluetooth.

The app is taken over by the artist team during a performance, causing all of the sticks to flash and glow in time with the 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.

All night long, the tour’s production seemed to set the mood by showcasing the many various groups of individuals who came out to watch SEVENTEEN. As the cameras panned over the crowd to highlight individual fans on the arena’s jumbotrons, it was impossible to miss the myriad of placards that spectators had plenty of time to digest. 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.”

K-pop isn’t usually known for its political overtones, but by welcoming all these communities and groups, the band subtly reiterated its support for equality.

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During the final North American concert of the Be the Sun tour, the production team requested that fans memorize and perform a snippet of SEVENTEEN’s heartfelt 2016 single “Smile Flower” as a special present for the band. Arena screens flashed instructions before the boys came back for the encore, reading: “Here in the last city of the North American Tour in Newark, there is a special event for SEVENTEEN: After the photo session time at the end of the show, we will sing ‘Smile Flower’ all together for SEVENTEEN. A part featuring the lyrics to “Smile Flower” in both Korean and Romanization was included with the request that readers “please memorize the song and the lyrics right now.”

This was an attempt to bring the audience closer to the artist in yet another way, and while the bright orange lettering made it difficult to memorize (and SEVENTEEN subsequently joked about the audience’s fairly mediocre singing), it was clear that they were trying.

SEVENTEEN, however, did not merely rely on the technical and production staff to foster a sense of camaraderie among concertgoers.

SEVENTEEN
SEVENTEEN

The highlight of the night: a fan dancing in an LED “stickman” costume way up in the rafters of Prudential Center. When Hoshi saw the “stick guy,” who was actually a woman, he called her out to the group of 13 with a yell.

The performers made an effort to get to know certain audience members by name and included them in the performance by having them sing snippets of different songs. To prepare for the final two songs, “Snap Shoot” and “VERY NICE,” Seungkwan walked down the aisles to the audience and had Carats sing the verses into his microphone. The three-hour concert was a chance for SEVENTEEN and their fans to reconnect in person after a long separation.

Be the Sun ended on a high note in Newark because it was the first and only city on the North American leg where all 13 members of SEVENTEEN were able to say their goodbyes.  After four members of the band fell ill with COVID-19 and had to miss shows (including an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel), it was very meaningful to have everyone back on stage for the closing song.

Early in the event, Joshua informed the crowd, “We’re so pleased to be back as 13 for you guys tonight,” and his fellow band members echoed his excitement.

The boy band SEVENTEEN clearly knows the importance of sticking 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)

The concert they just played, their first in over two and a half years due to fears of a possible COVID pandemic, echoed this sentiment.

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