***This posts contains spoilers for anyone who hasn’t yet attended the EXO North American Tour***
Most live pictures are taken by Felicia Jordan and used with her permission.
The concert was slated to be a disaster. Lay couldn’t make it from the beginning because of his China promotions, and now Kai wasn’t able to come thanks to a work visa error on the part of My Music Taste.
It was bad enough that neither of the lead dancers would be on stage. I live for their hard-hitting choreography, and the thought of losing Kai’s special touch about did me in. That, and his killer facial expressions.
To make matters worse, My Music Taste announced they would refund tickets to anyone who no longer wanted to attend. Rumor had it people were refunding in droves. Buzz said the concert would be empty, disappointing EXO with their first US tour experience.
I called the ticket company myself, curious if there were better seats, but there were none. It lifted my soul, ever so slightly. I did have one friend refund her seats, but it was because she had bought better seats the week before. I crossed my fingers and prayed.
The morning of the concert, nerves tickled in my stomach. I had watched videos of boys arriving at the airport the night before, and I had hope they would love their time here just as much as we loved having them.
I dropped by the venue–Verizon theater– first around three o’clock to pick up my lightsticks. There was already a line, albeit a short one. I figured it was people waiting for the pit, hoping to get as close to the idols as possible. Most of them had probably been there since early morning.
Not thinking much of it, I went back to my hotel. I had been playing hard all morning and I needed a nap to be at full energy for EXO. After all, I had to make up for missing people with my enthusiasm.
My fears vanished as I pulled up to the near-full parking lot right at five-thirty–the exact time the doors were supposed to open. I could see the crowd from one hundred yards away, a swarming black and gray colony of ants on pavement. Lines snaked from the front doors around the back where they zig-zagged until there was no more room, redirecting the line back to the front of the building.
I took my place at the end, grin stretching across my teeth. This was going to rock. Shouts of joy rippled through the horde as the doors opened, and we proceeded to shuffle into the stadium. From that moment on I was no longer an individual, but part of the fan-mass. We hadn’t yet entered the building, and we became one.
My seats were surprisingly good. Yes, I was a bit to the right of the stage, but I wasn’t too far back, and I could see clearly. It all added to my excitement. I snap a picture and wait for the show to begin.
Unlike the disaster that was Kcon 2014, nothing starts until every fan has taken their seats. I’m happy to wait.
The high-pitched pterodactyl cries begin even before there’s action on the stage. Of course I was part of it, I no longer belonged to myself.
When the bright lights above the curtain-line flash on, we LOSE OUR MINDS. Everyone gets to their feet, wanting a closer look at the boys. Moonlight starts blasting over the speakers, and we sing along.
A video begins. There are English captions that don’t match the English being spoken in the film, and it’s hilarious. We don’t care. We’re Kpop fans. It’s one of those quirky things we love about Korea.
Mention is made of nine elements, and the excitement booms through the room. OT9? Oh yes!! Kai is the first face to show on the screen. For a moment I forget that I am ONE, and wonder if there will be sadness at seeing his face and knowing he won’t grace our presence today.
The thought flees with the sound of thousands of voices crazy over their bias on screen. Each member is shown in turn using their powers, and I’m impressed at the equal vigor each member is given. Our message is loud and clear: we’re here to support you no matter what.
This video is beyond real. The anticipation fills like giant water-ballon, pressure so heavy the tiniest prick will make it burst.
Fangirl screams are never-ending, but they do get louder the moment the screen splits in two. Behind those doors seven men who always seemed further away than anything on the planet are in front of us on the stage.
Overdose begins and my throat aches from how much screaming I’ve done, but I can’t quit now just when it’s getting good.
The boys look great in their gold foil suit jackets, but the energy of live performances I’ve watched online is missing. We don’t care, because EXO is in the room with us.
Kai’s presence is missed, but I don’t let it dampen my spirits as I watch.
My eyes go straight to Chanyeol since he’s my bias. His hair is unruly, and soooo cute. I knew he was tall, but watching him on stage makes his height all the more real. That boy has lanky arms, and they look a little spaghetti-ish as he dances. It endears me further.
I notice Chen next which surprises me since I usually forget him for a moment when I’m naming off the members. Kid has some serious stage presence and I note to myself to never discount him again.
Baekhyun is a ham. I already knew this from watching everything online, but he really plays it up.
Sehun is just as smooth in person as I pictured him being. I notice his height too, but his dancing is smoother than Chanyeol’s. He’s definitely the best in the group on stage.
D.O. doesn’t have to do a dang thing. He could stand there while everyone dances around him, and he would still get as much love. Boy has a million faces without moving a muscle. His eyes say it all, and they captivate. No wonder he doesn’t feel the need to wear insoles like other members *cough* Baekhyun *cough* He’s larger than life.
Xiumin is adorable without trying. I don’t want to compare him to an elf because he’s manly, but elf was the main thought going through my head, even before the trippy video later in the concert.
Suho is even more handsome in person, and the dark horse of my bias list. Dude, stay in your lane!History is next up on the set list, and the boys transition to it smoothly. They’re a touch off sync, but we forgive them because they’re in the same room as us!!!!
Mama follows, and I wait to see who’s going to do the scream-o part without Kai. It’s Xiumin, and somehow he lends an cutesy quality to it. Which is a good thing, trust me.
The music dies and the members shed their jackets before taking a moment to introduce themselves. Not really…only Xiumin says his name, but we get to hear from them one by one which is pretty awesome. They are so charming as they each try to speak English for us.
We more-than appreciate their effort, as they rattle off text-book book phrases like “How are you? I am fine.” And even though Chanyeol says “Are you ready??” About twenty times we feel more ready than we’ve ever been in our lives.
Stairs are brought out for the next set, which starts with Don’t Go. I feel bad I have to ask the girl next to me what the song is called. I heard it before, but didn’t know the name. The girl was Korean herself and told me it was called Butterfly Girl at first. I’m kind of mad now that it was given a different English name. The butterfly choreography sticks out to me differently, and I can feel the emotion in their dance.
Next up is Playboy. The crowd goes wild the moment it starts. This song has special meaning for me since Jonghyun wrote it and even performed it once. It’s like a little piece of SHINee is there with me, and I about tear up as it starts. I’m so proud of both EXO and SHINee, and I think the boys can feel that pride as they perform. Their energy has upped, and they’re totally in sync now, no flaws.
Just when I’m thinking this is going to be my favorite performance of the night, EXO amps their game with serious fanservice. Chanyeol and Chen are dancing with arms linked, and backs together. Basically, they’re all over each other, and the crowd is eating it up.
As the notes of the next song start to play, I hear the girl next to me say she’s not going to cry. I feel the same. Baby Don’t Cry is such a moving piece, I would tear up even without knowing the lyrics.
Before I can get emotional, I start snickering to myself.The audience is singing the English parts SO LOUD and mumbling the rest. Glad we’re all in this together.
In the middle of the song, a piano is brought out, and the crowd cheers even before the keys are touched. I expected Chanyeol to sit on the bench, but instead it’s Baekhyun playing My Answer with him, Suho, and D.O. on stage. The performance is perfect.
Everyone exits the stage while the screen is brought together again. This time it’s a video of all the members acting as our boyfriend for the day. All we’re shown is a hand and the boys caress and hold our hand in turn. You can bet the squeals are deafening.
When EXO returns, they’re in maroon jackets, still looking amazing. They start off with The Star, which I actually hadn’t heard before. Don’t know how that one sneaked past me. I loved it!
EXODUS starts and I scream louder than I have all night. This is my favorite song!! I’m so glad it was included in the concert. The only thing going through my head was, “This is amazing! I never want it to end!”
They leave the stage again and there’s another video with a serious Christmas vibe. The boys are dressed as elves, and we watch as they take something brown and round and crush it to powder. The only hint we’re given is the word fresh, so I know it’s not chocolate, but I don’t understand until they switch scenes to a faceless girl standing outside a coffee machine. She peers in the top, and all of EXO hides so she can’t see the elves who grind her coffee. It’s a little weird, but still cute.
This time when the boys come out they’re wearing elf shoes and red Mickey hats. They perform Peter Pan, of course.
XOXO starts right after, losing the hats and shoes.
I see a paper screen come out, and I know what’s about to happen. I saw the video where the paper screen fell as the boys changed behind it, leaving Chanyeol pants-less, and Chen and Lay shirtless.
Lucky is the song they sing while changing. The entire set up is a tease. Baekhyun pops up with exposed shoulders. A light is shined behind, silhouetting the boys in various states of undress. When the song ends, they rip through the paper and out on stage.
Chanyeol has his sleeves rolled up, and HOLY CRAP HIS ARMS. 365 starts up and Chanyeol flexes in the middle. Dang, he knows he’s got guns.
There’s another moment where we get a chance to hear from every member. Baekhyun is impressed with how full it is (yay, we did it!) and he promises Suho will take off his shirt if we keep our excitement up. Suho agrees, but even though we kept our end of the deal, Suho didn’t *sad face*
Suho says he’s sad they didn’t get to spend Christmas with us, so they’re going to do Christmas now.
Christmas day is first up, and the suspenders in this one are off-the-chart sexy. I keep staring at Chen (that dang stage presence!) and he only has one strap that he keeps playing with, and driving me crazy. D.O. holds Suho’s hand, much to the audience’s appreciation. Basically, they’re continuing the tease trend, and doing it very well.
First Snow is after and Suho tells the audience to yell Dalls-u with them. Of course we add the U just like they do, it’s too fun.
They slow it down with Miracles in December. Baekhyun, Chen, D.O. are the only ones on stage, with the screen closed behind them. When it opens again, the stairs are back, and there’s a new D.J. booth just for Chanyeol.
Now they’re in black suits looking really sharp. A club beat is played while Baekhyun, D.O. and Chen change. The mass riles up with, “We say X, you say O.” which morphs into Machine as all the members take the stage.
Chanyeol is still D.J.’ing, as the song morphs again into Drop That. The Bass is seriously sick, and we’re jumping along until our thighs are burning.
Let Out the Beast follows, the club theme continuing.
The next morph is Run, another one of my absolute favorites. The energy is ready to blow the roof off, and now even the mom on my other side is dancing along (I had been dancing from the beginning, because that’s just me.)
EXO is putting so much into the performance they’re drenched in sweat. We eat it up.
Another EXO planet video plays, and I get a little knot of sadness that the concert might be almost over. I really don’t want this to be goodbye yet. I’m having so much fun I could be here forever.
When the boys come out in black and white striped suits, I choke up. I’m half elated, because they’re finally doing Call Me Baby, but half depressed, because I know they save the big numbers for the grand finale. I push those thoughts aside, deciding it’s best to just enjoy. Which I do, very much.
I’m officially dead by the time Growl starts. It’s the song that made me an EXO-L, and it blows the water out of everything they’ve done yet. I feel so blessed to be standing there and hearing this live and witnessing how truly awesome these boys are. They just keep getting better and better.
They stop to talk to us once again, and Suho tells us that before the concert they were very jet-lagged. (I suspected as much.) But once they got started, all of that was forgotten. Xiumin gets our energy up again, being so adorable and feeding their egos, rightfully.
Baekhyun says they’re going to do one last song for us, and my heart shreds. It’s Love Me Right, which is all too fitting, since we love them so much.
They tell us goodnight and leave the stage, but there’s no way we’re going to let them leave without an an encore.
We cheer, and we try to get a chant started, but people are shouting different things so it peters out. I give one mighty scream when the audience goes silent, and the cheering begins again.
All of us are still on our feet, waiting. The silence returns, and it’s heavy. No one is going to leave until they come back to us once more time.
We take a collective sigh of relief as a new video starts to play on the screen speaking of the appreciation they have for us fans.
EXO returns, a few of the members sitting on stools as they belt Sing for You. Now I really am crying, wishing this wasn’t the end.
Chanyeol yells, “How are you?” and we answer “GOOD!” He says we gave him a lot of strength, and he had fun performing for us. Bless him.
D.O. tells us he was surprised to hear us sing along to their songs.
Chen agrees with D.O., and adds he was surprised we jumped, too.
Xiumin tells us he hurt his leg, and we all give give him an, “AWEEEEEE!!” which he eggs on with a waving hand, making us laugh. He tells us he was afraid he couldn’t perform, but he had no problem. We all cheer, glad he’s with us.
Baekhyun says he’s proud of how many people came, and I’m proud too. I wanted to make a good showing for them and I’m glad it happened. He continues by telling us he wishes he could see us closer, then starts picking out members of the audience he noticed. Apparently there was a dad who was bored, and my friend sat behind him, so she confirmed it was true. There was a girl who wore glasses and jumped funny because she was wearing a skirt. We all wish we were that girl. He finishes by telling us we’ve become one. Dang him for making us tear up again.
Sehun says he wants to do more American tours, and that he really likes Chris Brown. Can’t say there are too many in the audience who agree with him, and he realizes this by saying he thinks he said something wrong, but he loves our passion. I think he’s adorable and I yell, “We Love you!” in the middle of him speaking.
Baekhyun is trying to take the attention back while Sehun speaks by being a dork, as if he hasn’t hogged enough spotlight 😉
They end the night with Unfair, walking around the stage and trying to see us closer. Chanyeol looks straight at me and gives me two thumbs up. (Let me live in my delusions, okay?)
I’m incredibly sad to see them go, but Suho’s parting words stay with me as we leave. He says, “We don’t need language, just music!” And I feel like he’s summed up my life perfectly.
It was an expedience I’ll never forget, and hope to have again. Now excuse while I go drown my PCD (post concert disorder) in a gallon of ice cream.