Article. Kim Minkyoung
Visual Director. Jeon Yurim
Any concert TOMORROW X TOGETHER puts on paints a story of where they are and how they got there. Last year’s online concert, ACT: BOY, was a showcase of the boys’ growth, but the ACT: LOVE SICK tour is all about the rise and fall of love, full of the pains and changes they underwent as a result. Every aspect of their performances—the set lists, stage direction, wardrobe choices, overall presentation—is a microcosm of the group’s history, and a concert where the boys can see their audience up close and in person to relay that history shows very essence of the group. Whether you’ve already seen the new concert and want to relive all the emotion or are still waiting to feel the thrill of the stage, take a look below for our detailed report on TOMORROW X TOGETHER’s very first world tour, ACT: LOVE SICK.
TOMORROW X TOGETHER launched their world tour with a two-day concert at Jamsil Arena in Seoul on July 2 and 3, heading over to the United States to tour seven cities including Los Angeles where they held the last two performances of the first half of their ACT: LOVE SICK tour on July 24. Those final US performances were held at a special locale: the Microsoft Theater, home of the 53rd Grammy Awards, the 2021 Billboard Music Awards (BBMAs) and the American Music Awards every year since 2007. The boys regrouped during August and have just gone back on the road to kick off the Asian portion of their tour. From September 3, the group is playing Osaka, Chiba, Jakarta, Bangkok and finally Manila on October 28, the last of 19 performances.
“The goal was to direct a performance that would make both the group narrative and their identity immediately understandable,” Eum Hye Jeong, a lead professional at HYBE 360 Concert Production Studio behind direction for the concert, said, explaining how the ACT: LOVE SICK tour guides the audience into the world of TOMORROW X TOGETHER. The first part of the concert begins with first love, opening with the song “0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You)” featuring Seori. Eum said the almost magical period of songs like “Wishlist,” “Blue Orangeade” and “Magic” itself ends in a flash with “Ghosting,” which is “a preview of the LOVE SICKness to come.” The second part of the concert finds the boys caught in a confusing dilemma and is expressed through directly contrasting songs: “LO$ER=LO♡ER” tells the story of a one-and-only, while “Trust Fund Baby” goes on to show they can’t be the “LO♡ER” as expected. The original story segment of the concert unfolds like one long, uninterrupted panorama of the narrative that has built up around TOMORROW X TOGETHER to date. Based on their reaction, “MOA really loved” the part, according to HUENINGKAI, who added that “the concert really captures what makes us so unique.” The final part of the concert concerns breakup and emotional pain through “Opening Sequence” and “Anti-Romantic,” culminating in an explosion of inner turmoil in “Good Boy Gone Bad.” This turns around in the encore, however, when the hopeful music signals a shift toward a determination to press on to better days ahead. Fans returning home from the concert have already reconstructed the set list as a personal playlist and can follow along again on TOMORROW X TOGETHER’s journey from The Dream Chapter: STAR to minisode 2: Thursday’s Child.
3. Behind the scenes
From the stage design and visuals to performances, everything you can see contributing to the look of the ACT: LOVE SICK tour is connected, keeping audiences deeply immersed and heavily invested. The goosebump-inducing outro to “Ghosting” takes that magical experience of first love and reveals it was all an illusion. The members of TOMORROW X TOGETHER seem to disappear like a “faint ghost” as they move backstage while feathers rain down over the audience. A series of videos connect each segment of the performance, helping concertgoers follow the overarching storyline. Eum said that, for this tour, there is an emphasis placed on “explaining the story of the songs through lighting” as well. They chose to use a different approach for each song, as with the yellow lighting during “New Rules” that brings a police line to mind or the strobe lights that emphasize inner conflict in “Frost.” Equally important to making their performances shine is the pairing function of the TOMORROW X TOGETHER light stick. MOA filling the stadiums create a wall of magic from ground floor up to the third as their lights flood the building and even call the members of the group forward during the interlude in “9 and Three Quarters (Run Away).” This interaction emphasizes the inseparability of TOMORROW X TOGETHER and their fans.
Rakta, part of BIGHIT Music’s Visual Creative Team that took charge of TOMORROW X TOGETHER’s style direction, described the aesthetic guidelines for the tour as “fatal and yet fragile love and the boys who have been hurt by it,” adding that the hearts made of small red gems on the backside of the group’s wardrobe for the opening are meant “to give the impression of blood flowing from their hearts, right through their bodies and out of their backs.” The second segment of the concert is more defiant in nature, with the boys donning studded arm warmers and leopard print jeans to complement the rock sound of “LO$ER=LO♡ER” and the meaning behind “PUMA.” For songs from “CROWN” to “Blue Hour” that represent the group’s earlier, more youthful phase, they wear sailor outfits, then body-fitting white tops to highlight the tight choreography in “Frost” and “Eternally.” Rakta said that details like what appear to be bandages are a “reflection of the grotesque undertone” of the songs. In all, there are seven wardrobe changes over the five segments of the concert, including the black leather jackets the boys wear in “Good Boy Gone Bad” to emphasize all the anger in the song and the denim overalls they wear during the encore. The many different clothes they wear throughout the concert puts a “focus on the kind of beauty that only their group is capable of pulling off.”
Other than when they performed in Seoul, the five members of TOMORROW X TOGETHER are performing throughout the tour without any backup dancers. “Since this is their first world tour, we made the focus the five members and kept it organic,” Kim Subin, a director with BIGHIT MUSIC, said of the label’s approach to directing the choreography for the performances. In the dance break during “0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You)” featuring Seori, for example, the members of the group link their arms together to form hearts and then break them apart, reaching up into the sky to symbolize how being “full of problems” and “lovesick” leads them to do anything they can for the object of their affections. Kim explained that this was because they “wanted to make the theme clear right from the opening with a performance that placed emphasis on the members’ great ability to express themselves emotionally.” The group is performing “What if I had been that PUMA” live for the first time with a very cute performance. When they sing the “chances are fifty-fifty,” BEOMGYU mimes a coin toss, and they fold their arms into an X over their chests in imitation of the playground game for the line, “freeze tag over and over in my head.” “We thought it would be funny seeing the youngest of them choosing between the older members,” Kim said, noting how their idea to have HUENINGKAI choose differently between YEONJUN and SOOBIN at each concert on the line, “Pick your choice, A or B,” has become something fans really look forward to. The idea to walk through the audience while performing “Thursday’s Child Has Far To Go” came from the members themselves. “It’s a unit song, so only three of us were supposed to go out into the audience at first,” BEOMGYU, who also produced the song, explained. “But we asked if all five of us could do it so we could all go and hang out with the fans for a while.”
At the end of one of their performances of “Magic,” TOMORROW X TOGETHER yelled out, “MOA, your cheers are amazing!” While the group held their most recent “fanlive” event in person, the audience was limited to clapping only in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. HUENINGKAI said he “was always sad because MOA have a lot more fun when they can cheer out loud.” Eum revealed there were “worries whether the members would be able to pull it off because it’s all done live and they have to keep performing without any breaks.” Fortunately there was no need for concern because TOMORROW X TOGETHER and MOA have consistently been on the same page and light up the full 150-minute concert no problem. When the whole audience across all three floors of the stadium did the wave with their light sticks from the one side of the venue to the other and back again, and then back to front, the TOMORROW X TOGETHER members were so impressed that they even asked the crowd, “You all got together and practiced this, didn’t you?” The group practiced tirelessly for the tour knowing how many fans would brave the heat to come out to cheer the group on, so the members “put in all our effort because they took time out to come see us and we didn’t want to let them down,” as TAEHYUN put it. And their efforts didn’t stop at practicing; the members continue to put in the work live. BEOMGYU explained how the five members were practicing and supporting each other up to the last minute before the concert, saying, “We could hear each other through our in-ear monitors, so we kept telling each other we could do it and to have fun, and it was really supportive for all of us.” The members said the most touching moment is the ending of the concert, when MOA and the group sing “Sweat” together as the audience holds up their signs and sway their bright phones side to side. “Even though I was the one who was singing it, I felt like I was the one being comforted by it,” SOOBIN said. “People might think if that happens enough it the feeling would fade or you’d grow numb to it, but no—whenever I sing it, it gets me emotional.” TAEHYUN said “the ending was unbelievably perfect” and explained that they “wrote the first verse when we were trainees and added on the second verse after debuting.” The faith TOMORROW X TOGETHER has in MOA, and the faith MOA has in TOMORROW X TOGETHER, is clear throughout the concert. It was perfectly captured in the signs the audience held up at the Los Angeles concert, the last on the US leg of their tour: “MOA will shine like a star for TXT; TXT will shine like a star for MOA.”
Before leaving the US, TOMORROW X TOGETHER took on one more challenge by performing with excitement and nerves at Lollapalooza. HUENINGKAI said he “couldn’t believe it” when he first heard the group would be playing the festival. “I wanted to perform there so badly that I just couldn’t wait for it.” SOOBIN said he was thankful for all the time the fans spent there with them: “The audience came in right at eight in the morning when rehearsals ended and almost everyone in the first five rows was MOA. That was still nine hours before we went on and I was so grateful to see them there so early holding up their light sticks and signs.” After opening with “Good Boy Gone Bad” and “Frost,” the group performed “Anti-Romantic,” which they said was the best part of the show. “I felt less nervous by then and could really see the fans, waving their hands all together as one and singing along with us,” YEONJUN said. “I was so amazed. It was like something out of a dream.” TAEHYUN noted how “everyone was grooving along together, and I could tell they honestly loved our music,” saying he could feel the energy coming from the crowd. “I was drenched in sweat, but I kept performing like crazy and it was exhilarating,” YEONJUN said. “I could’ve died then and there and it would’ve been fine. I just kept going.” For TOMORROW X TOGETHER, as well as everyone who was able to be there to enjoy the performance, the group’s music, dancing and all the passion they put in, it was, in one phrase, the best day ever.
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