BTS’ Permission to Dance on Stage Concert Was Virtual, But the Love Was Felt IRL: Recap

Breaking down some of the highlights from the epic online concert

BTS Permission to Dance On Stage
BTS, photo courtesy of BIGHIT MUSIC

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    In June, BTS held Muster: SOWOOZO, an online concert celebrating their eight year anniversary as a group. More than 1.3 million (!) people around the globe purchased tickets and tuned in.

    More recently, BTS announced their first in-person concert events in almost two years, currently their only shows of 2021. All four nights at Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium sold out during pre-sale. For anyone counting, that’s nearly 300,000 seats swiped up… all before public onsale could even happen.

    On the evening of Sunday, October 24th in Seoul (5:30am for this writer), BTS held their latest online extravaganza, entitled Permission to Dance On Stage. The show encompassed 25 songs and stretched more than two and a half hours — and, as with every show the septet has held sans live audience, the Bangtan Boys did not come to play.


    Notably, V experienced a calf injury during the group’s dress rehearsal and was confined to a chair for almost the entirety of the performance. There’s an interesting phenomenon that occurs whenever BTS isn’t able to perform as seven: as with the recent months in late 2020 and early 2021 in which group member SUGA was on a hiatus to recover from shoulder surgery, the group didn’t shift their choreography in the absence of their missing member.

    Instead, the remaining six left a placeholder for where V would have appeared and spent plenty of time making it known that they always, always prefer to be onstage as a whole. This mentality is a pretty concise portrait of how the group has operated throughout their career, and it’s certainly a contributing factor in their unusual longevity. (Making it to seven years in the K-pop world is a rarity; making it past eight, with more than a million people paying for a virtual show, is practically a miracle.)

    BTS PTD Virtual group photo

    Photo courtesy of BIGHIT MUSIC

    The setlist, too, reflected this focus on the collective — BTS’ massive discography features plenty of solo songs (tracks from just one member) and subunits (combinations of a few members of the group), but V made sure to mention that the set list was designed with only tracks that included all seven members. It remains to be seen how close this set list will fall to that of the upcoming Permission to Dance shows in November and December — but if this collection of songs is any indicator, those Los Angeles audiences will be in for a treat.

    The show kicked off with “ON,” the lead single of the sprawling Map of the Soul: 7 album and the intended focal point for many of the group’s planned activities ahead of the pandemic. The set list pulled from almost every one of the group’s eras, reaching as far back as six years for treasured tracks.


    A few questions: when will the “FIRE” remix that made its debut during this concert be released on streaming platforms? What about that neon technicolor live band version of “Boy With Luv?” Will BTS ever bestow some choreography for perfect track “Dis-ease” upon the masses? Does J-Hope have any bones at all, or can he just move like that? And, lastly, what does a fandom have to do to get a performance of “Louder Than Bombs?”

    Jungkook, who remains committed to the Constantly Outdoing Himself agenda, seemed to be having a great time throughout the show, especially elated throughout “Stay” (a track he co-wrote) and the always-joyful “So What.” Jimin, the titular “Black Swan” himself, managed to breathe new life into a very special song the group has performed dozens of times before.

    Meanwhile, young CEO/mafia consulate V didn’t let his relegation to an armchair stop him from commanding the stage. Instead, he used his velvet throne to his advantage, still shining on the very personal “Blue & Grey” and teasing his group members from afar periodically, asking, “Do you miss me?” with a cheeky grin.


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