First, I’d like to thank my friend Ali K for gifting me her spare ticket to this show. I originally wasn’t even going because I just saw them last year and with all these concerts and albums drops, it’s hard being a multi kpop stan, the price tag just keeps adding up.
Anyhoo, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to see these kids again because I was reminded of why I started stanning in the first place. When I saw them for the first time at KCON NY 2018, I really didn’t know anything about them or cared to… until I saw them perform YAYAYA and I was forever changed. Each time they return to the U.S it is with new vigor and you can see how they really have grown as artists and people.
When this world tour was announced, so soon as after their last tour ended, I felt like this is just JYP’s way of showing how the group could manage and make money as the now 8 member group. And after Woojin’s departure and a few member hiatuses, the rest of Stray Kids said they are here to stay with a powerful and playful set of performances. The biggest and noticable between the Unlock and Unveil tours is the sheer scale of the show. Even though each member is capable of filling the stage with their stage presence alone, this time around they had back up dancers, bigger effects and longer VCRs that really gave the show a nicer and more polished feel.
One of the highlights was before the end of the show, there was a whole fan interaction section. Through the help of a pre-recorded aide, Stray Kids asked the help of Stays in the audience to sing along to a couple of tracks. It was playful, high energy and I was freaking tired after dancing along to Get Cool and Miroh but the ache was well worth it. Especially when the members came out and said our singing and dancing was cute. At my age, I shouldn’t be smiling at that but I did.
But we go to concerts for the music right? Many non or new kpop fans go to these shows and want to rag on them for “lip syncing” or using backing tracks. F**k that. All 8 strutted their prowess when it came to giving those haters something to talk about. The setlist had mixture of songs from the groups debut up until their recent release of Levanter. I personally enjoyed seeing songs that weren’t on their last tour like Question, M.I.A , and remixes of I Am YOU and Hellevator really gave those songs new flavor. Also they had time to do unit performances. Dance line (Hyunjin, Lee Know, and Felix) flexed their abilities as Vocal Line (Seungmin, Maknae I.N feat. Changbin) gave us sweet harmonies with My Universe and 3RACHA (Bang Chan, Han and Changbin) showed us why they are quickly becoming one of the best rap lines in K-POP with We Go. Then they went ahead and did one of my favorite songs of 2019, freaking Double Knot. It was everything I wished and hoped for. You can see my terrible fan cam below.
As the show came to a close 2 and a half hours later, I came to also realize a few things. First, Stray Kids talk a lot about their love for their fans and how Stay makes Stray Kids stay and it really feels genuine. It could all be a farce and they could be blowing smoke up our asses to get ticket and album sales, but when each member talks about what the fans means to them or when leader Bang Chan goes on his long speeches, you get the feeling that each of them do this cause they love it. They love the craft and the community they’ve created. I mean, even Felix got in his feels as they stood on stage giving their final ments. Second, even though they were monster rookies for 2018, they still have a ways to go and you can tell they haven’t lost that rookie spirit. Each set had the Stray Kids flavor that they are being known for and you can only see their growth from there. Thirdly, I really dislike blond hair on Changbin and Han. I wish it would just stay dark. That’s all. And lastly, I big love Hwang Hyunjin. I know this has nothing really to do with the show itself but my ult bias became really clear. His stage presence is out of this world. His dancing and rapping… all come a long way from when he was a trainee. I still bias leader Chris, but Hyunjin has taken the throne.
There were many moments during this concert that could be picked as a highlight. Could have been the playful banter between the members on stage, or any number of the songs that they decided to perform, but it was the moments in which the crowd and Stray Kids felt as one. There were a lot of “love yous” thrown between the audience and the members. However, every time we chanted the tag line “Stray Kids Everywhere All Around The World” it felt bigger than words. It felt like a promise these 8 artists were making with each and every person that listens to their music, albeit a casual listener or STAY.