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The BTS California concert 2021: ‘It was absolutely worth it’

By JOANNE RAE M. RAMIREZ, The Philippine STAR Published Dec 07, 2021 5:00 am

Patricia Isabel “Trish” Sotto graduated summa cum laude and class valedictorian from the UP School of Economics in 2014. Of all the graduates of the state university that year, she placed ninth.

It is precisely Trish’s exuberant intelligence that has given her permission to dance with her BTS adulation—an adulation that made her fulfill a vow to fly and see them wherever in the world they would be if and when they held a concert. In April 2021, she said, “My ultimate goal in life is to see them live and meet them.”

Last week, Trish fulfilled her ultimate goal of this time in her life, flying more than 7,000 miles from Manila to Los Angeles to become one of the 50,000-strong ARMY of young people (and a few not so young) at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Los Angeles, California, to watch the K-pop sensation’s concert, their first since 2019.

A popular celebrity like Taylor Swift or Ariana Grande might get 150,000 likes on a sensational tweet. BTS gets 450,000 likes in five minutes. They get three million in 24 hours.

Christy Castillo Butcher, SoFi Stadium’s senior vice president of programming, told Soompi, “BTS sold out four shows for the first time in SoFi Stadium history. This concert achieved the highest ticket sales among any concert held by a single band or artist at the SoFi Stadium.”

“They have had the highest social media engagement of anyone in the world since 2017,” adds Trish. “A popular celebrity like Taylor Swift or Ariana Grande might get 150,000 likes on a sensational tweet. BTS gets 450,000 likes in five minutes. They get three million in 24 hours.”

BTS wows the 50,000-strong ARMY at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

Opened in September 2020, SoFi Stadium normally has a maximum capacity of 100,000 seats. However, some of the seats were reportedly unavailable for BTS’ concert due to a large screen behind the stage, making the maximum number of available seats approximately 50,000. The concert is also being livestreamed at the YouTube Theater, which has a capacity of 6,400 seats.

Why is the ARMYs' adulation for BTS so monumental they would march thousands of miles despite the COVID threat, to see their charismatic generals?

“Because for so many of us, BTS was the very reason we got through the past two difficult, turbulent years in the first place,” says Trish, who took a leave from managing the family’s eight Shell stations for her “pilgrimage” to the “altar” at Inglewood for the BTS concerts.

“Seeing them perform in front of a live audience for the first time since 2019 was, in my mind, the most meaningful way I could say thank you to them for everything they’ve done and meant to me over the past two years,” continues the beauteous Trish, who traveled to California with another member of the ARMY, her best friend Sam Lichauco.

To my generation of Shaun Cassidy, BTS means either “Better than S*x” or “Behind the Scenes.”

BTS’ RM, J-Hope, Jin, Jungkook, Jimin, V, Suga.

Actually, BTS in Korean stands for Bangtan Sonyeondan. The group is also known as the “Bangtan Boys.” A South Korean boy band formed in 2010 and which debuted in 2013, the septet is composed of Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook.

They co-write and co-produce much of their own output. Their lyrics are said to be “often focused on personal and social commentary, touch on the themes of mental health, troubles of school-age youth and coming of age, loss, the journey towards loving oneself, and individualism.”

“They’ve given me not a reason to live, but to smile!” gushes Trish. “Motivation to not just survive, but thrive!”

BTS wasn’t just making love songs or dance songs (although they certainly have many of those) — they were making music that spoke to people in a way that had never been done before.

Trish attended all three concerts at the SoFi Stadium, the venue for the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028. The last concert, Jingle Ball, with other artists like Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa, will take place at The Forum.

“I know it sounds crazy but the effect they have on people is really incredible,” Trish explains the phenomenon that is BTS, which by the way has only three English songs: Dynamite, Butter, and Permission to Dance.

BTS is joined by hip-hop artist Megan Thee Stallion for a performance of “Butter,” a song for which she is featured in one remix.

“K-pop is infamous for ‘manufactured’ idols. For making good-looking kids who aren’t naturally talented (but willing to do whatever it takes for fame) into stars. BTS’ creator Bang Si-hyuk completely changed the game with BTS.

“He recruited for talent—scouting underground rappers who didn’t necessarily meet the idol standards of beauty but had unmistakable raw talent and intelligence. He built a group that writes, composes, and produces most of its own work—on topics that had never been touched on in the ultra-conservative and emotionally reserved Korean society like mental health, unfair expectations people have of young people, etc.

“BTS wasn’t just making love songs or dance songs (although they certainly have many of those)—they were making music that spoke to people in a way that had never been done before,” points out Trish, with the gravitas and analytics of someone writing a college thesis.

Despite the fact that only three songs are in English, the ARMY understands the BTS language.

“The rest of the songs are in Korean and so many of us, myself included, know the Korean lyrics by heart. As the director of Parasite Bong Joon-ho famously said, ‘Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.’”

Patricia Sotto with bestfriend Sam Lichauco at the BTS concert: “Being part of the long-awaited reunion between BTS and ARMY on Nov. 27 was one of the best days of my life — an unforgettable, irreplaceable experience I will cherish forever.”

For Trish and Sam, it wasn’t just the language barrier, or space (more than 7,000 miles) and time (more than two weeks, including quarantine when they return) they overcame to worship at the BTS altar. After all, it was a journey into themselves, to the very best part of them.

“Living my very best life at the moment, because my heart is so overwhelmingly full of love. Firstly, for BTS—who gave an outstanding show and demonstrated (in the most exuberant way possible) the healing power of music. Kim Namjoon, Kim Seokjin, Min Yoongi, Jung Hoseok, Park Jimin, Kim Taehyung and Jeon Jungkook—you were all simply beyond our wildest dreams. Not just for your God-given talent, but perhaps even more so for your unmatched capacity to spread JOY! Thank you for being the brightest light in the lives of countless people, mine especially,” Trish wrote after the very first BTS concert at SoFi.

“And secondly, for ARMY—this crazy, wonderful family that has come from all corners of the globe to embrace BTS’ message of love, resilience, and hope. Never have I seen so much unabashed passion and generosity in my life. ARMY is BTS’ living, breathing tapestry of love—one that spans across every imaginable color and creed. If there’s anything that proves that BTS is the biggest and most important musical act of this generation, it’s the millions upon millions worldwide who have resonated with their music and message.

“Needless to say, being part of the long-awaited reunion between BTS and ARMY on Nov. 27 was one of the best days of my life—an unforgettable, irreplaceable experience I will cherish forever.”

March on, ARMY!