SEVENTEEN Light Up the Newark Night at Final Stop of North American “Be The Sun” Tour — Concert Review/Recap (From a Carat)
On a rainy, early September Tuesday in Newark at the Prudential Center, the dreary weather did not damper any eager anticipation of fans waiting outside to experience the final stop of the “Be The Sun” North American Tour by Kpop boy group SEVENTEEN.
This day held so much meaning for lots of reasons, but the history of this arena with SEVENTEEN and CARATs is not to be overlooked. SEVENTEEN first performed at the Prudential Center during KCON 2016 as mere rookies, a year since debut, and as the opening act. Fast forward to January 2020, they return to Prudential on their “Ode To You” tour with a sold out show as the first concert of their North American leg.
SEVENTEEN have been relishing in the freedom and wonder of travel and seeing their beloved CARATs around the world for the first time since early 2020. With every event of such pure and unadulterated happiness, the very bittersweet end to this magical tour has finally arrived at the last stop.
The minute you walk in and are greeted by the stage and surrounding bustling of fans gathering to their seats, it’s hard to not feel an immediate sense of homeliness. Various music videos play on the screen and fans scream, chant, and sing along while holding fan signs and wearing costumes of inside fandom jokes. Of course, complete with Carat lightsticks in almost every hand.
Not to mention, since this was the final stop of the North American tour, the staff prepared a special fan ‘project’ by displaying a screen before the show started that asked for fans to sing a part of the beloved fan song “Smile Flower” towards the end of the show, as a gift for the group for the emotional end to the NA tour.
As the minutes tick closer to the concert officially starting, the lights dim darker as the most recent music videos play and Carats’ cheers roar the loudest so far. The whole crowd sings harmoniously to the English single “Darl+ing” without missing a lyric, almost tears eardrums with blaring screams for “HOT,” and sing the chorus of “_WORLD” with unadulterated joy in their voices. However, I could feel when “Cheers” came on, piercing screams erupted right after the first note of the iconic flute melody was heard. The unprecedented hype was present throughout the whole song, but you could feel the anticipation in the room when the bridge started and everyone was ready to chant the iconic “eongdongi pang pang” line (translating in English to…butt pang pang). The fanfare for “Cheers” was expected as a fan favorite, and especially to make up for it sadly being left off of the setlist.
SEVENTEEN open the concert by exhibiting their power with a strong stance. The group enters in a dignified manner with assertive facial expressions as the camera glides over each member. Adrenaline starts pumping as we see their powerful stares and the red, orange, and yellow fiery theme from the stage carried all the way through the in-sync light sticks of the crowd blazed in a fiery red. Their mere power is felt by the whole arena as hearts are pumping and deafening screams fill up the large space. Their first short set captures this collective burning passion with rousing songs such as the booming “HOT,” rocking “March,” and EDM powerhouse “HIT.” Every member on stage is completely fired up and the crowd echoes in exhilaration.
The group takes a quick break to introduce themselves and teach the crowd an official concert chant, before a brief set of pop-punk influenced songs from the 2021 mini album “Attacca.” The energetic performances include the group track “Rock With You” complete with sharp choreography and the self-written all English break up song by duo Vernon and Joshua called “2 MINUS 1.” Although the duo are only walking around the stage with mics in hand, they serve a powerful performance with their notable stage presence and aggressive, passionate line delivery.
Now it was time for the eminent journey of the unit stages, consisting of two songs each from each of the three famed units that make up the group — consisting of the performance, vocal, and hip hop unit.
First up was the performance unit, with the opener of “MOONWALKER” with Jun, Hoshi, Dino, and The8. The members, dressed in charmingly delicate silver and white, stand behind clear panes with trickling water and introduce a lustrous blue and purple flowing water concept with an air of sensuality. The remixed version of their 2018 track starts with a softer approach that adds to the dynamics of the dance-pop house instrumental. The following song “Wave” from their 2021 mini album “Your Choice” coated the room in further sensual purple lights for the seductive song. Personally, I was highly anticipating this “Wave” performance and it was entirely fulfilling. Having seen SEVENTEEN live two times before, I always find myself gazing — during the performance unit stages in particular, with pure awe and utter enchantment. The way they move their bodies ever so exquisitely and detailed yet flow smoother than water is a sight to behold every single time. I also have to note that Jun in particular is a killer with the deep captivation of his facial expressions while performing.
Next up was the vocal unit with their sweet and rosy set of “Come to me” and “Imperfect Love.” The vocal unit phases in a warm atmosphere with the nature inspired setting of a starry night and sitting comfortably surrounded by greenery in neat navy clothing. The older track “Come to me” gets a revamp for this concert with a more acoustic version, bringing even more airiness and allowing members’ Woozi, DK, Seungkwan, Jeonghan, and Joshua’s voices to shine fresher and brighter. When the members move to the front stage for “Imperfect Love,” the atmosphere immediately becomes ever lovelier. The CARAT lightsticks sync to a beautiful violet color and the crowd softly sways to the music. There’s a precious moment that adds even more affection, when the members tell us they want to hear our beautiful voices and give the crowd a moment to sing the chorus on their own. It is such a heartwarming moment for the audience and the members, as you can clearly see them looking at fans with delight and genuine gratitude all over their faces. Honestly, the last chorus is where I started unexpectedly tearing up. As DK sings a gorgeous high note, white confetti bursts into the air and floats above our heads in the sea of warm purple swaying back and forth to the band instrumental — which I am now feeling every vibration of so deeply in my body. While I enjoy hearing the vocal unit’s top notch vocals everytime, I have never had such an intimate, deeply felt moment like that and I sure wasn’t expecting it. This was definitely a surprising but welcomed highlight of the concert for me.
The last of the unit stages was the hip-hop unit; aka the hype men of the night. The mood difference from the warmhearted vocal unit to the hyper-active hip-hop unit was a bit of a whiplash, but once we were in it, the whole arena’s energy was absolutely insane. The members stepped out dripped in black outfits for the fun autotuned hyper-pop track “GAM3 BO1” and hard-hitting, rowdy “Back it up.” The colorful “GAM3 BO1” performance was a blast with the vigorous adlibs throughout and overall catchiness. However, when “Back it up” started, the energy became immensely intense in the best way possible. The highly-aggressive nature of the song, the members rapping with an extreme gruffness to their voices, the vivid laser light show, and their assertive interactive adlibs towards the audience all made for perhaps the biggest flux of energy of the whole night. The thing about hip-hop unit, is that their commanding presence from the moment they stand on stage is absolutely crazy. They truly know how to command the crowd like no other, and easily making the entire crowd crazily jump and lose themselves in the moment is just another night for them.
The next segment of the concert shows off their fun personalities with the refreshing trio of “Mansae,” “Left & Right,” and “Very Nice.” The street-inspired set with chain link fences, street signs, graffiti, and red and white casual sporty outfits signifies its time to let loose. For every concert of this tour, they start this section off with a silly little quick ‘skit’ about all the members meeting on stage, only to find that Vernon’s… not there *shocked!* What I really appreciate from Vernon is how for every city, he does a different song that for the most part, correlates with the specific city they’re playing (For instance, “MOMMAE” by Jay Park for Seattle and “Single Ladies” by Beyoncé for Houston, who are artists from each city, respectively). It’s a small fun surprise for every concert that builds fan anticipation and adds a little unique touch that shows appreciation for the city, rather than losing track of whatever city they find themselves in. This night in Newark he came out singing “Work” by Rihanna while he and the rest of the members spontaneously began to dance in sync to it, before going “Oh! Sorry, were you guys waiting for me?” and fake ties his shoelaces before going right into the quirky throwback of “Mansae.” “Mansae” and “Left & Right” are both songs where SEVENTEEN have freedom in the choreography to play and mess around with each other, and naturally inserted moments continuing this playful and silly skit into the song performances themselves.
The last song of this segment is maybe surprisingly, “Very Nice,” which has been their infamous never-ending encore song for years now. It’s even funnier though how they perform the original choreography for the song here, but still have the endless “Very Nice” encore at the end regardless. However, “Very Nice” is arguably a Kpop cult-classic at this point and whenever or however it is performed, it never fails to get the crowd up from their seats and explode with joy.
Somehow already, the members step out in their shiny jackets, mesh shirts, and tight pants for the ‘final’ (pre-encore) songs of the concert. It opens with a b-side from their latest full album “Face The Sun” called “Shadow.” While it is kind of a shame that more songs from their latest album aren’t performed, I think the choreography for this song is really eye-catching due to the incorporation of the ‘shadow’ concept with every detail and formation. The emotional tone yet charming presentation from the group is a good segway into the suave fan favorite “Crush.”
The boys take a longer talking break before “_WORLD” to take the time to rest and interact with the crowd after the fast-paced concert so far. They talked about how amazing the Newark audience was, all the stages, made fun of each other, and sang parts of “Cheers,” “Oh My!,” and “Clap” with the audience.
After they close out the joyous “_WORLD” performance, between then and the official encore, there was a memorable window of time where the camera would scan the crowd and shoot close ups of some of the signs Carats brought. Carats would hold up flags of their country, signs with fandom references, and a lot of “____ for _____” (for this show, some examples I can remember would be “LATINAS FOR SEVENTEEN,” “THEY/THEMS FOR HOSHI,” AND “BIRACIAL BISEXUALS FOR VERNON”). It was a really sweet and cute moment actually, since carats would collectively and enthusiastically cheer for every sign that was shown on screen and I’ve never seen this happen at any other concert besides this tour.
The boys then finally stepped out wearing their concert merch and made their way across every inch of the stage to interact with as many Carats as possible for their encore. They opened with the sweet English single “Darl+ing” with Carats softly singing along to every word. After they finished, it was time for the last and most intimate talking section of the night.
The group spread out along the bleachers on stage and said their words individually to the audience. The members hit the usual points of every concert — talking about how this city was amazing, they want to come back, and they love and are thankful for fans — but as this was the last night of their first tour in years, there was a bit of a heavier air in the room. With every word said, you could easily see how meaningful and how precious this whole tour had been for them. They even mentioned how they had to fly back to Korea the next day and you can tell they were trying to gather their thoughts about this mixed bittersweet feeling of such a meaningful tour ending.
After they sang the beloved sentimental “Our Dawn Is Hotter Than Day” on the bleachers, it was time to take the crowd picture and then the anticipated “Smile Flower” project set up by the staff. When the last picture was taken, the ending part of “Smile Flower” played and CARATs successfully sang the touching lyrics to SEVENTEEN. Shoutout to Hoshi here, who unexpectedly took the whistling section of the song to say “You’re now rocking with the best…no cap” (a DJ Khalid phrase he had been saying all night) in the middle of this sentimental song. The members took a quick moment after to form a group hug and congratulate themselves on working so hard for this tour.
Now for the real meat of the encore — the everlasting tomfoolery of “Snapshoot” and “Very Nice.” For this part of the encore, this is where the members allow themselves to completely let loose and simply interact with fans in every way possible and also make a fool out of themselves doing whatever the overflow of energy in their body tells them to do. For most of “Snapshoot,” the members jump and dance around all over the stage while having fun with fans. However, they repeat the chorus multiple times after that to allow for as many random dance breaks as possible. The members take turns doing their own versions of whatever dance break they can think of (which turns out to almost always be something ridiculous). After they get it out of their system, they then pick people in the crowd (who usually have funny costumes or have signs saying they want to dance) to do the dance break instead, shown on the concert screens. Yes, it is as crazy and insanely fun as it sounds. The boys pick out whoever they notice and then they all turn to give their undivided attention to them, while maybe asking for their name and then hyping the fan up as they dance their heart out to the chorus of “Snapshoot.” For Newark, particular ones I can remember was this ‘stick girl’ (had led lights that made her look like a stick figure from afar) that the members were fascinated by, someone wearing a bread hat, and someone who challenged Seungkwan to a dance battle where he went first and her second and the members saying how he lost hard. They continue with this special and intimate fan interaction as they move into the infinite “Very Nice,” where they repeat the chorus and have different fans actually sing into their mics(!!!).
It’s crazy to see how some members, usually Seungkwan, will actually go down from the stage and directly in front of the standing floor audience to have lucky Carats get face to face with them. They approach people who say they want to sing the infamous high note that leads into the chorus, and actually go up to them and talk to them for a bit before putting the mic up to them and singing into it. They do this a couple of times for each repetition of the chorus, which you can guess, is quite a few times. Of course, the members still give that fan their undivided attention and observe them doing the high note before jumping all over the place on stage and the rest of the crowd does the same. For me, the most memorable person that night in Newark who sang was this girl who said she was a musical choir teacher. She of course nailed the high note, but I loved how that made DK for some reason let out these insanely high and loud adlibs afterwards. I also have to note how my jaw dropped when I saw Seungkwan parading around a blanket on stage (which was an older picture of a close up of Joshua’s face) that he took directly from a CARAT in the crowd. They do the encore for quite some time, but SEVENTEEN and the crowd never let up on their energy and even have a last fakeout where they bow and go behind the screen to leave…until it raises back up and they come running out in a burst.
And after about 3 full hours of an amazing concert, it ends for real and we are brought back into reality.
It’s impossible to be completely unbiased, especially when it comes to an artist so dear to me, but the SEVENTEEN Be The Sun Concert in Newark was easily one of the most phenomenal concerts I had ever been to. I love concerts and have been to so many, yet that night just resonated so deeply. There is no better word to describe what that night was except for: an experience. SEVENTEEN are the best performers I have ever seen and maybe will ever have the pleasure of experiencing. I have seen them during their first U.S. tour “Diamond Edge” in 2017 and “Ode To You” in 2020, and no matter how blown away I am by them, they somehow are always able to easily one up their previous performance. While the choreography was so clean, the setlist was great and diverse, and the stage presence and energy never faltered — something noticeably different and greatly improved upon was the amount of and intricacy of the audience interactions. While I never felt like there was a need for more in their previous tours where the talking portions and fun encores were enough for me, all the various ways they include the fans into the show is something I have never experienced before by any act. Of course the insane encore where the fans are directly apart of the concert singing into the mic and dancing on screen is a big part, but the smaller details such as the lightsticks being coordinated to be completely in sync with colors that fit to whatever the mood of the stage is supposed to be (from red during “HOT,” rainbow during “Very Nice,” and throughout the whole concert) and even to the few minutes of on screen close ups of fans’ signs before the encore. There was a lot of thought and effort put into connecting with the audience, to the point where the show would be a completely different show without the crowd. After the devastating loneliness the pandemic has brought forth and multiple online only concerts without even one person in the crowd, you can tell it was done with great purpose. For many reasons, this was truly an unforgettable night, which is something SEVENTEEN can always guarantee — for Carats and non-Carats that come alike.