By Kya Brogdon | 21 November, 2022
Desert Diamond Arena - Phoenix, AZ (November 10, 2022)
Taking inspiration from the title from one of their recent b-sides, entering an ATEEZ concert is like stepping into a new world. The lighting, stage setup, decals on the screen, and even the show-ending confetti are all meticulously chosen to enhance their world and draw the audience further into the energetic atmosphere. They start this process way before you ever step foot into the venue with different events happening before and during the day of the concert.
The day before the concert, K-pop culture brand Hello82 held a pre-show merch popup in downtown Phoenix with exclusive merch items, preorder pick up, and even a photo op area with the group's outfits worn during their latest title track music video, “Guerrilla.”
This popup not only allowed fans to get merch before the concert and not be stuck carrying around items at the show, but it also hosted a fan event allowing Atiny (the name for ATEEZ’s fans, a mashup of the words “Ateez” and “destiny”) to write messages on post-it notes that are collected and will eventually be gifted to the members when they wrap up their tour in Toronto. This event also allowed fans to write lyrics of the fan song, “Star 1117” and record video messages which will be compiled and played as a surprise to the group during their Toronto stop.
The festivities don’t stop on the day of the concert either. My friends and I arrived about three hours before doors opened and spent that time taking photos, gathering freebies, and watching the random dance play happening in the courtyard of the venue. A random dance play, this one hosted by @sunsetkpopevents, is a very common and popular event often hosted at concerts before the doors open. This type of event allows fans to gather and show off their knowledge of choreography for new releases and popular songs, regardless of dance level. Whether you’re just watching others dance like my friends and me, waiting for that one song you know, or running to the center every other time to show off your moves; the atmosphere is always welcoming and encouraging to everyone around, and it makes the time waiting go by faster. Specifically, at this show, the random dance play was held in the middle of the outdoor merch line so fans waiting for their turn to buy tour shirts or lightsticks were able to enjoy those dancing to help pass the time.
My favorite way to pass the time waiting for the doors to open is by walking around the venue to find all of the people passing out freebies. And let me tell you, Atiny showed up and showed out with the quality and quantity of people handing out various styles of freebies. Similar to the vibe of a Halloween candy haul, after the concert, my friends and I dumped our tote bag of freebies onto my bed and sorted through each and every baggie of items, trading various unofficial photocards so we could each get our biases and making sure we all got what we wanted. After everything was sorted and spread out, it’s easy to tell that this was my biggest haul from a concert yet - and we didn’t even get everything being passed out at the show.
In a twist from other Kpop concerts, this ATEEZ show actually had an opening act in the form of KQ’s (ATEEZ’s company) pre-debut boy group temporarily named KQ Fellaz 2. On their last tour, ATEEZ expressed how they hoped they could be good role models for their juniors (called 후배 in Korean, pronounced like “hoobae”), so it’s very heartwarming to see them be able to give their label-mates a platform to gain fan support before their debut. Performing their two pre-debut songs “Geek” and “Tricky House,” the ten-member group absolutely killed the stage. They came out with so much energy and talent, if I didn’t know they were still technically trainees I would’ve been sure they were a veteran group. Set to debut sometime in 2023, they are a group I will be sure to pay attention to.
And then, the moment I’ve been looking forward to for months. The lights dimmed and the opening VCR video began. In another effort to bring you into ATEEZ’s world, the beginning of the concert video is straight from their storyline, making you feel like you traveled to an alternate dimension and entered their lore. After the VCR, any noise is deafened by the cheers from fans as the members take the stage to the opening notes of “New World.” Donning long black cloaks, each member is illuminated in white LED lights as they sing their lines. It’s a type of visual I haven’t seen at any concert before, ATEEZ’s creativity is truly unmatched.
As is a staple in Kpop shows, this concert had a banner project put on by fans as a surprise for the group to be shown at the end of their song, “My Way.” Run by @ATEEZxAZ, the banner project for this stop featured lyrics from “Eternal Sunshine,” and the project was successfully kept a secret from the members until it was implemented. As the song faded to a close, the banners swept across the arena as Atiny held them up for the group to see.
“When did you guys ready all of this?” Leader and main rapper of the group Kim Hongjoong asked as the lights came up and the signs were revealed. “The signs are so beautiful.”
This moment was more emotional than I expected it to be. This is ATEEZ’s first time performing in Phoenix, and you could tell they didn’t expect to have this kind of turn out and support in a state they had never been to before. Being able to be a part of this moment for them was heartwarming, and I’m so happy we were able to show them how much love they have all across the country.
@ATEEZxAZ via Twitter @ATEEZxAZ via Twitter
About halfway through the concert, during one of their many moments of speaking to and with the audience, vocalist Choi San holds up the end of his audio pack.
“Where’s my in-ear?” He questioned as the camera for the screens focuses on the empty wire.
No stranger to San breaking his mics from the sheer energy and passion he puts into his performances, (no, seriously— he broke three headset mics at their tour kick-off show in Seoul) his members share laughs at his predicament.
“Someone find San’s in-ear!” Oldest member Park Seonghwa tasked the audience as they made their way off stage to change for the next set of songs.
With their setlist containing all but one song from their latest album, (justice for “WDIG”) as well as a mix of old title tracks and b-sides, this concert really felt like an exploration of all the styles and genres ATEEZ has done over the four years they’ve been active. Since I was lucky enough to go to their tour back in January and also catch them at KCON LA in August, I was so excited to see that the setlist had a bunch of new songs that I adore that I hadn’t seen live yet. However, some fans were lamenting the loss of beloved tracks - as was Hongjoong himself.
“I don’t want to finish our concert,” he said, met with agreements from both the crowd and his members. “Let’s make thirteen more songs on the setlist. Let’s fix our setlist, we’ll put thirteen songs more.”
He continued on by naming some of the iconic songs that unfortunately didn’t make the setlist - “Promise,” “Pirate King,” “Inception,” etc. - with each title gaining more and more cheers from the audience. He finished out his teasing speech with singing a bit of the chorus from their song “Thanxx” drowned out by screams from the fans. While they may have been joking, the audience sure wasn’t. I—for one—would gladly stand and watch them perform every single song from this discography if given the chance.
Unfortunately, that was not an option, and the concert had to wind down to a close eventually - much to the disappointment of fans and members alike. Throughout the entire concert, the members seemed surprised by Phoenix’s energy and support, and in his ending speech, Hongjoong apologized for coming to Phoenix so late, saying that if they knew there were so many Atiny here they would have come earlier. The other rapper of the group, Song Mingi, promised that they would return soon, and bring even more energy to us than what we showed them.
As their second to last song, ATEEZ gave a gift to their long-term fans by performing a pre-debut release unavailable on streaming services titled “From.” Running around on stage waving to Atiny, it’s easy to see how much these boys love performing in front of their fans. “From” was not a song I had warned my friends I would cry during, but it happened anyway. During the song, I kept thinking about how far ATEEZ has come from the underrated group they were when they debuted, and how much more I know they’re going to accomplish.
Until next time boys, thank you for a wonderful beginning, middle, and end to my 2022 concert season.