K-Pop: ONEUS Before Stadiums

Photo of Lee Keonhee, Son Dongju (Xion), Lee Seoho, Yeo Hwanwoong, and Kim Geonhak (Leedo). Copyright goes to RBW, Billboard, and ONEUS.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I have seen ONEUS live from four rows back on an aisle and I will never be the same. When I got these tickets I knew this experience could very well be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Getting tickets that close in such an intimate venue already felt odd, but adding that it was for ONEUS made it feel impossible. I’m honestly shocked that ONEUS isn’t at the point where they can do stadium tours yet, but I am absolutely sure that stadium tours will be coming for them soon. Each release gets more and more popular and people are finally starting to recognize them for how talented they’ve always been. But personally, if they do eventually in the next couple years get their stadium tours, I’m going to miss concerts like this. I hope that this isn’t a once in a lifetime opportunity, but it did kind of feel like it could be. If you haven’t been to a concert for one of your favorite K-Pop groups before they got to stadium level; I sincerely hope that one day you’ll be able to experience it. I’m going to talk about my personal experience with ONEUS and why intimate concert venues are so much different than stadium tours!

Personal Feeling:

There’s a different level of experience at a concert when you can wave at an idol and have them see you and wave back. This type of experience definitely isn’t limited to just intimate and smaller venues. A lot of people who get floor seating on stadium tours also experience it. But there’s a difference in that with a smaller venue, it feels like everyone in the audience gets some part of that feeling. Not just the people sitting close. While every K-Pop concert that I’ve been to has had spaces in the middle of songs for interaction with the audience, this felt almost like everyone in the auditorium was having a conversation. Like we were sharing in the same inside joke or old friends catching up after too long of not seeing each other. I truly felt apart of something here and I definitely felt as though all of us in the audience were great supporters of the boys onstage. And also that the boys support us too! And though all of us were screaming, I think this was the clearest I was able to hear a concert from a mix of being close to the stage and having less people screaming in the auditorium. There was a wholesome almost family type of vibe at this event that made it feel more like an experience everyone was having together and less like a show. I was not prepared for how much the intimate setting and smaller auditorium would change the experience, and I am so glad that I was able to find that out for myself. I’m not saying that stadium touring is worse in any way! Stadium touring has a lot of pros that auditorium touring doesn’t have. There’s an entire aura of excitement around a stadium tour, a feeling like you’re there for something extremely important, and a completely different feeling of belonging when you’re singing along and dancing with so many other people. But it doesn’t have the heart-wrenchingly personal dream-like feeling that concerts like these have.

The Freedom:

I used to watch videos of BTS and ATEEZ from when they also performed at smaller venues and I wished for a long time that I could have also been with those groups when they were still performing at that level. They seemed to be having so much fun, they seemed free, and the audience interaction always felt closer. They were there with the people who had been supporting them forever and would continue to support them far into the future. I think that specifically is what gives it the family vibe that I was talking about before. I started stanning BTS seven years after their debut, and I started stanning both ATEEZ and ONEUS about two years after their debut. Which is so much lower of a number. But ATEEZ got to stadium level really quickly, so I wasn’t able to experience this with them. I saw that in past videos they would run around the aisles and interact with fans sitting in various seats. And now I’ve actually been part of that interaction for ONEUS! I made eye contact with Leedo ,which I am absolutely sure I will never recover from. He even squinted at me to see better (Geonhak is known for squinting because of his poor eyesight) and I just about passed out. I waved at Xion and watched Keonhee and Hwanwoong pass right by me. The only member of the group that I didn’t get as much interaction with was Seoho, but it was still so amazing to see him that close! Everyone in the audience agreed to stay in their seats to keep the boys safe in order for them to have some of those precious fan interactions. The more popular a group becomes, the less possible that becomes. With a smaller audience the artists are able to actually have more fan interactions and have the types of interactions that they want and enjoy.

Fan Connection:

I have never been the type of person to gate-keep in a fandom in any way. You don’t need to listen to the entire discography of an artist in order to be a fan. Just considering yourself a fan is enough, of course provided that you are engaging in healthy fan behavior. We don’t do solo stan behavior here and fans should absolutely acknowledge and respect the personal boundaries of the idols they stan. I also find that judging a fan based on how long they’ve been a fan of a group is just as pointless and over-all doesn’t make any sense. We want people to become fans of a group and to stan them because it means more support for the artists we love so much! Not only that, but many of us have been able to get through hard times because of a group and that’s not an experience we should take away from other people. But I will say that stanning a group early on gives you a sense of belonging with that group that everyone should experience at least once. You’re able to be with them from before they started getting really popular and go through the journey with them. It feels like you are personally part of that journey. From their first win to their first world tour; you’re there for all of it. And concerts like this also feel like a part of that journey. With ONEUS, as I expressed before, I feel confident that they will eventually get to stadium level. But there’s something so rewarding and intimate about being able to be there with them and for them before that moment. That’s why I call this once in a lifetime. Who knows if I’ll be able to see ONEUS like this next year. But either way, I’ll always have the experience of being with them for this concert.

I know it’s a little selfish, but I hope to see ONEUS again at least one more time like this. But I will also be really happy for them if next year they start stadium touring! I also want to point out that Hwanwoong said that they were planning a comeback soon! I still can’t believe it’s so soon now, but I’m so excited for them! I know that this tour was really difficult for them and I hope they’ll continue to get more support with each new comeback and tour. My sister mentioned in her post how they talked about their mental health for a behind video shown at the concert. Geonhak spoke about how he thinks too much, which is something I can really relate to. And all of them were free in talking about how they’ve been doing. I hope more idols feel free to talk about mental health now and feel supported when they do! I can’t put into words how much this concert meant to me. And I know I say stuff like that a lot, but really this felt like I was living out a dream or a fan fiction. I still haven’t wrapped my head around the fact that one of my biases now knows that I exist in some capacity. (How???) I wasn’t just in the crowd, he actually saw me! I’m never going to get the experience of first realizing that one of my biases saw me again. It’s only been a few days but I already can’t wait for next year so that I can see them again! And yes, I do consider Kim Geonhak my Valentine for this year.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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