[Stitch Talks Ish] Episode 8A: Map of the Soul ON:E – Day One Reaction


Hello, Darlings!

I think this is officially episode eight. The episode looking back at BTS’s releases from Dynamite, their Japanese release Map of the Soul: The Journey, and anything else that I didn’t cover in my last two BTS album related episodes – that’s still in the pipe works. I’m lazy, so – and busy – so it is taking me a little bit longer than I expected to get to that.

But one thing I have gotten to do in October is watch a BTS concert.

Like everyone around the world in 2020, all live music entertainment has kind of ground to a halt unless the artist you’re interested in is doing virtual, digital – on tact, I believe is the term many Korean artists are using – performances where it attempts to forge digital intimacy with a global audience.

So I’ve seen four concerts so far: Wonho’s kind of debut concert, his solo concert after exiting Monsta X-, A.C.E.’s virtual concert which is my second A.C.E. concert, because I saw them live in December 2019, and again two BTS concerts, both nights of the Map of the Soul ON:E concert.

So I tried to record for both of the non BTS concerts, but that would have taken a very long time and this would have had to be broken up into four episodes instead of two, and I can’t do that to the lovely soul who was helping me with transcription for the like five of you that listen to this.

But after I watched both nights of the Map of the Soul ON:E concert I recorded reactions pretty instantly so the episodes for the next two parts – so this is 8A and then there will be 8B- are actually kind of on the spot responses to those concerts. So they were made at the ass crack of dawn. So I hope you guys enjoy listening to part one, which was done the Saturday morning after the first night, which was very late. (I don’t know why I did that to myself, but-) Alright, happy listening. Hope you like it.

2:59 – [musical interlude]

So I’m recording this part of this latest episode just maybe an hour, less than an hour, after the first day of the two day Map of the Soul ON:E concert finished. So it’s 9:18 in the morning. I’ve been up since about 3:30-4 o’clock, and I would not change that for the world. (Beyond the fact that I’m actually only awake because I’m bad at figuring out time zones, and I cannot count, that I would change.)

So the first concert really was, it was really just an event— obviously.

This is the second live BTS concert I’ve watched on a streaming platform. I watched the Wembley concert with my nieces and my friend Noelle last year. And this year, if Corona hadn’t happened, I would have taken my- my niece that got me into BTS to see them in Orlando, back in May.

But the universe sucks, And so we didn’t.

But we watched distantly. She watched it on her laptop, over at my sister’s, and I watched it at my apartment, and we did not communicate at any point before, after, or during the show beyond “what’s your password”— and that’s okay.

So the concert first day opened with, like, a really dramatic kind of… not retelling, but representation of the key moments across “ON,” the title or main track for Map of the Soul: 7, that came out in February, and I really liked the song.

I don’t always love the video, it depends on my mood, but the performance utilizing elements of that video was really good. Then “ON” segued into, whatever, into “N.O,” which— I love “N.O.”

Like, that is- that is one of my favorite BTS songs, in part because, you know, when you look at the music video and you see their hair, it’s just really great.

Then they did “We Are Bulletproof prt. 2,” which, again, I love it.

I love BTS’s more hip hop oriented songs, so: “N.O,” “We Are Bulletproof,” “Boy In Luv,” “No More Dream.”

Those are really, really like my kind of music, and those are those are main tracks that rely on hip hop in terms of sound, styling, and the experience. (And conveniently, all of the songs were, you know, in this concert.)

I really love that the styling for the first chunk of songs didn’t rely on schoolboy uniforms, because back when they did, for the MMA awards, they did we are bullet- not “We Are Bulletproof,” “Boy In Luv.” They did a “Boy In Luv” stage and they were essentially supposed to be wearing schoolboy uniforms.

It did not look like schoolboy uniforms because they are in their 20s so they look like office workers- just hot.

Anyway, “Intro: Persona” was the first solo song we got, solo performance, and you know, I’m freaking feral for a Namjoon in every capacity. And I really loved that stage. It was very energetic.

What threw me for a loop was that this- this stage used, or brought in, the giant CGI Namjoon using, I guess, AR technology. So like I saw, like, the camera, I think it panned left, because I don’t use the multi- multi view, or whatever, during these concerts. I don’t fiddle with any settings because it’s… I’m sleep deprived, and computers already hate me.

So I’m looking at the main screen and it just shifts and I’m like “Oh My God!” I, like, lost it. I think that was like the first tweet I made about the-about the concert really.

Because, like, what!?

And then their “Boy In Luv” stage was really good. It had very, like, rebellious youth energy, which I always love and I love “Boy In Luv” as a song.

It’s kind of like the same resonance with me as “War of Hormone” except it’s not as hornt as “War of Hormone,” and it’s kind of like— rude. But it’s a song that works for me. I love Yoongi’s part from, like, in the music video where [the] girl playing the video’s love interest is against the locker and he, you know, he’s just, like, I guess kind of spitting game. That is like my favorite part— ever.

What was really cool so after that, we move into “Dionysus,” and, as you know, Dionysus – as a God, as a BTS song, as a cultural signifier— super important to me. I have statue of Dionysus on my desk. I have an altar that needs dusting. And Dionysus as a mythological and religious figure is key to like everything that I am as person. And so I’ve loved “Dionysus” since I first saw the title. Like, I was like, “Oh, the song was my song. This is the song. They made this song for me. They made Map of the Soul: Persona for me.”

And I’m- duh I’m not wrong.

This version of “Dionysus” used a different beat. It was more hip hop. One of the the general consensus across my Twitter timeline was “this song fucks”. And I love that because “Dionysus,” the original version, is like boozy, clubby frat boy-ie, but “Dionysus,” I guess “Dionysus” the hip hop mix, fucks. It is… it brings even more to the table than the original did. And I loved the very high energy of the performance.

Then there’s “Interlude: Shadow.” Again, feral for fucking rap line. Love them all. The performance – Yoongi is in his element. I mean— raw magnetism This is- the stage uses elements from the video, like hands reaching through quote unquote walls, because it’s fabric, kind of zombie grabbing for him. It’s so unsettling. It’s so cool and I love the song.

I love the commentary that song and video make about fame and having it, and other people want what you have, and it’s just— it is so introspective. It is so powerful. And I loved getting to see the stage performed, and seeing Yoongi just go for it was, like, wow!

And “Black Swan” followed that.

“Black Swan” is so good, yo. Oh my god. I am one of the people that didn’t really like the v- because there’s a version with the dance troupe and the orchestral (orchestral?) mix. I don’t really like that.

I like the theater angel video because I’m shallow, and they’re very beautiful.

But this the stage, because I’ve seen the- So I’ve seen a couple of stages that they’ve done, like on The Tonight Show, and somewhere else they did a “Black Swan” stage. I’ve seen them I was like, yeah, this is great.

This is better.

The “Black Swan” stage on day one of Map of the Soul ON:E is better than the stage we’ve had so far. Not just because Jungkook is wearing a see through shirt, not just because everybody is legit bringing their A game, like, top to bottom.

This is this stage as it was meant to be performed. Jimin gets a contemporary dance solo, like so they finished the song and Jimin gets to go fucking wild. I mean, part of why I didn’t like the dance troupe video was because it was not Jimin.

That’s kind of how that happened. This was what I wanted. I wanted Jimin using his incredible talent. He’s an incredible dancer, fluid ass body, just powerful ability to just emote, like, with his arm, you know. Like this, this is incredible. And I kind of like broke. I was like “whaaaat is this? This is incredible”.

And so of course, I’m already broken.

And they, and the concert, follows it up with “UGH!” and “Zero O’Clock,” and then “My Time,” “Filter,” “Moon,” and “Inner Child” because they’re like, “oh, oh, you’re going through something, go through it some more.”

And of course interspersed across all of the different performances, every couple of performance, there’s a little video. I think they’re called VCRs. And I can’t actually figure out what that acronym is supposed to stand for. So hopefully I’ll figure that out eventually, because I’ve been wondering since, like, January of 2019, actually.

“UGH!” is everything.

They did a teaser for it during Bangbangcon back in June or July; I don’t remember. Time is fake and my memory is shot. And so, it’s rap line in a boxing ring and I love it. It’s a more direct, like, “yes, this is a diss track clapping back at haters, we could fight them.”

And you know, I love aggression.

And they do it in a way that does not mimic black masculinity. Which is something I talk about across my project, that a lot of the rappers who are performing hip hop and trying to do, especially if they’re in an idol group when they switch either to more hip hop oriented songs with their group or when they do solo content, they tend to be like, “well, what’s the toughest thing I could be” and it’s a black guy.

They’re not doing that here. They’re just like, boxing. And I love just watching it.

Yoongi’s just hot here. Namjoon is wearing a leopard print, I don’t wanna say boxing gown, I have no idea what it’s called but the thing that boxers wear before going into the ring and beating the shit out of each other. He’s wearing a leopard print one, and he’s hot. And Hobi, I was like, “welp, when, when is he gonna show up? When is he gonna show up,” because I knew I wasn’t going to be prepared. And I wasn’t. God I wasn’t. And when you guys listening to this, when you watch it, if you haven’t already, you probably won’t be prepared either.

“Zero O’Clock,” right? I love those- I love “Truth Untold.” I love just like kind of yearning, sounding, just beautiful vocal line tracks. They’re incredible as a unit, separately, just sub units. Love it. “Zero O’Clock” is, like, so heartbreaking, just, like— their delivery. And they were all dressed in white. They looked like freaking angels. Oh my God! It was beautiful. It was an incredible stage, had a little bit of choreo, like casual choreo. So did “UGH!” That also had like a little bit of casual choreo, like a dance break at the end, that I needed in my life. I needed it. It was great. I absolutely freaking loved it.

And then when we go into vocal lines, solo songs, solo performances, the hilarious thing about Jungkook’s “My Time” is that it’s basically like, like an ode to, well “I didn’t have a childhood.”

Like, “I was busy learning the sword,” but the sword is, you know, dominating the music industry and being really top tier, performer, athlete, singer babe. Right?

So it’s, like, this bittersweet, like, song about not having time and trying to find time. Like “oh, poor baby”, but then the stage is sexy. It’s like pelvic thrusts, thigh swiping, grinding… And I’m like, this should not be this hornt. But also, if it wasn’t this hornt, I would cry. Right?

And so, Big Hit lines us up, gets us like “whoa, man,” I’m, like, on edge, JK is hot, this is great. And they hit us with, Jimin: “Filter”— unnecessarily sexy song. And I say that and then I, like- lies. “Filter,” Jimin— holy shit.

That song is sexy. It is. It makes me want, like, more content from Jimin. Like, I want more of that kind of music from him. Because it is him. It is his unique… magneticism [sic]. Like, you cannot look away. I don’t think I blinked during “Filter.”

I thought the stage is very innovative, very playful sexy. You’ve mannequins across the stage with clothes, like ties and hats and stuff, and he takes them off. And he, you know, dances with the backup dancers. And it’s very gender, as I say, as my friend Lilah and I say, was very gender, and if you are queer, if you are doing, feeling gender feelings, I actually think that this concert is actually really great for that.

Like even Namjoon has, like, he has an outfit and the outfit he’s wearing in “Black Swan” on this day is just like… like, I was like, “Oh, I feel this I feel this. This is kind of working for me,” but not in a sexy way, necessarily, but in gender for myself way.

But yeah, “Filter”— holy shit. And then he does a full outfit change at some point. Like, I don’t know how I missed how that happened, but it was just, like, he goes from the outfit that he’s wearing to this, like, wine red outfit with like a nipped-in waist and I’m just like, “how do I pay for him to step on me, or how do I volunteer?”

I would actually. Like, I don’t even know. I would I would pay for the privilege though. What the hell? Right? Whoo.

So then to ease us back down into, like, nonhorntnes is Jin in “Moon,” and I love “Moon.” If you listen to my podcast episode about Map of the Soul: 7, I loved “Moon.” I thought it was a very romantic song, like, very tender, very, like, “ooh, like, you’re orbiting us.”

And the stage is very playful, very sweet. It feels like all of the stages were very much them. Jin’s stage feels like Jin. It’s very sweet. It’s very playful. It’s very, like, coy, but in a different way from how “Filter” was coy. The gaze is kind of different. The audience in mind is maybe different. It’s very lovely stage, and I can’t wait to see it again tomorrow.

And then “Inner Child”: “Inner Child” destroyed me. It destroys me when I listen to it. And I was when I was doing my review and looking at the lyrics. And I was prepared. I was like, “Oh, this is gonna be a song, where I cry. Okay, I’m prepared.”

And then the stage is Taehyung. He’s on a ferris- not a ferris wheel. Um, the thing with the little horses, whatever that is called— I do not care. But the thing with the horses that goes in a circle, he was on one of those (fine, all right, cool) with a small boy child dressed identically to him, that is clearly representing his younger self.

So I really liked that the vocal line stages book ended really neatly in that, like, talking to/about your past self, your childhood. But where “My Time” was, like, hornt, like confusing hornt, “Inner Child” is not at all hornt. It is introspective. It is kind of serving me Whitney Houston, “Greatest Love of All” music, video vibes.

And if you’ve ever spoken to me about Whitney Houston, you know that that inspires sobbing every time.

And it was just really great performance. It was very, very loving. And like not loving necessarily for us/of ARMY. Although, it was really lovely that the ARMY, you had- throughout the concert, you had screens of ARMY engaging with the concert. Their screams filled the arena essentially.

And in “Inner Child” they sang but the song is from Tae to Tae. And it is so loving and so like “yeah, we got this” that I still can’t get over it. I still cannot get over being able to to look back at your younger self be like “yeah, we’ll be okay.”

Like, at this point, I’m telling my younger self “commit crimes. I have a list.” [Laughs]

And then after you know, vocal line wrecked everyone, here comes Hobi to spice this up with some serotonin with “Outro: Ego,” which— I love that song. I love the music video and love that it is… it is Sunshine from our sunshine.

And the stage is really cute. Y’all, Hobi’s out here looking like the cutest boy in the world. And I think that it’s- it’s great. I thought it would be closer to the end, to the end of the main concert because “outro,” but I am not going to complain about where it is positioned because it is such a good song.

And then following- following “Outro: Ego” you have, like, at the end of the song everybody comes up and starts dancing with Hobi and the dancers. It’s very cute. Like Yoongi is like getting it. Right?

And then they go into “Boy with Luv” which I’ve talked about. I cannot watch “Boy with Luv” without feeling happiness. It’s extra serotonin for me. They did the disco mix, that is currently my mom’s ringtone, and that was first seen, that performance, with umbrellas like LED lights and a disco-y tune that was first heard with Bangbangcon back, you know, June/July. Fantastic. Never anything to complain about— obviously.

They follow that up with “DNA,” “Dope” and “No More Dream.” There’s a reason for that, but I- my subtitles went off, so I don’t actually remember what that reason was. So if I get to rewatch the concert, if my nieces don’t use it to watch it with their friend, I will have that answer for you. But “DNA” “Dope” and “No More Dream” are top tier main tracks.

“DNA” is a really incredible, really visually stunning comeback, and I love the song. I love it a ton. I still cannot figure out if the jersey that I think Jungkook is wearing is, like, a modified Panthers jersey and it will haunt me forever, but (in the music video) but— fantastic.

“Dope”— always great. That was my BTS nieceling’s, I think that was her first engagement with BTS, or it was her first comeback. So I always think really fondly of it. Because if not for that, I wouldn’t be in BTS because she wouldn’t have gotten into them to get me into them.

And then “No More Dream.” They played- so before the concert started, you had- they played like the Samsung commercials, and music videos. And one of the music videos they played was “No More Dream.” And I was talking to another fan, a friend of mine in fandom, and we were just, like, losing it because the song is really good.

The music video, especially if you’re black, is hilarious because they are doing the hood cosplay that, you know, many of their peers in the same debut period did as well. But it’s really funny because Namjoon – who is my friend and I’s, like, shared, like, we love this dude, this is our bias – Namjoon’s little Afro like makes us lose it every time.

So we were, we were, like, “how are we getting “No More Dream” in 2020, about the music video. And then we got “No More Dream” the stage performance in the concert, you know. And so that was great.

That- so the main part of the concert, I was like, “Yeah, I can handle this. I’m a strong, strong, independent person who doesn’t need to cry, blah, blah, blah.” And then the encore happened. And… I think the most important thing about the encore like, yes, the songs happened and they were great, but, like, because it was “Butterfly” and “Run.”

And I think then they did the ending mentions? I honestly can’t remember that. Because it was just so much emotion. But they did the ending mentions. And it wasn’t until like partway through when I when I realized like wait, maybe my subtitles went off? Not that they stopped translating or stopped working. That- I was like “what the fuck?”

And so Jimin, I caught Jimin’s ending mention and he, like broke down. Like, my friend Lilah, like eagle eye, was like he cried for the rest of the thing, for the rest of the encore. And he is just he’s so so heartbroken. He’s so stressed out.

And, and this… part of the parasocial relationship that I find fascinating is that we come to care about them, these celebrities, so much. Like December of 2018 I could not imagine that I would be as invested in BTS as I am now. You know, I could never at that point have been like “yeah, I would wake up at 5am to care about BTS” you know? I- I didn’t think of them the way that I think of them now.

And here I am, like 8 something in the morning just kind of like weeping over one of my Kpop young men because he’s fucking losing it in his ending mentions. You know?

And I love Jimin. Jimin is very much— he is a force. And I adore him and I think he is one of the coolest people, one of the coolest celebrities. And one day I’m going to get white girl wasted with him. I’m speaking that shit into the world. We go get drank. Okay, putting it out there.

But seeing him Mcfrickin lose it. Like pitch forward crying. Like that hurt. And I… I still don’t know what to do with myself. You know? I still… I still feel like crying.

And it was compounded, compounded by the fact that Namjoon did his ending mentions in English for us. And, and I just looked it up because I wanted to read it to you guys. See ’cause everybody else is doing their their comments in Korean. And he was like, “well, since they’re doing that I’m going to do mine in English.” And he said:

“We are literally strong. The ARMYs I know and the BTS you all know, we’re all strong. We’ll find a way we always have. If there’s no way let’s draw the map, a whole map again so no worries. We’re strong and we’re still connected. Even wave comes catastrophes come windfalls, snowfalls anything. Let’s not doubt ourselves, Let’s believe in ourselves and I love you.”

And, like, I love Kim Namjoon leader of BTS. I’ve… I love ‘im, like… and it’s been hard. I’ll probably cry next time, so when I do this tomorrow morning.

But 2020 has been hard and every time he’s talked, every time they’ve talked to him, or talked to BTS Namjoon has had words of hope and comfort and even though he must be struggling. Like yes, he is a millionaire, and, you know, he— wealth. But he’s also a person. And he has to be struggling just as hard, in some ways, at the disruption to his life, and yet he has these words for us, these kind words. And… actually, it hits different at 8:30 in the morning, y’all. It is… It is a lot.

And I think I… when I watched the Wembley concert, it was with the understanding that the next time I saw BTS it would be live.

I had made my mind up in that moment I would see them perform. And even when I did my review of Map of the Soul: 7 it was I will see them live. That’s the end of that that episode actually.

And here we are, October 2020, I’m about to have a birthday and haven’t seen BTS live. But BTS hasn’t seen us live either and to an extent the parasocial relationship does go both ways. And so it is heartening and heartbreaking to realize, to see, that he is struggling— that they are all struggling— in part because they miss being able to connect with us.

And they ended the first- they ended the encore, so the concert, with “We are Bulletproof: The Eternal,” which is a song guaranteed to make you weep. Even the music video which is animated with little, you know like, I don’t say chibi but that’s the only word I have so, chibi versions of everyone going through their eras. Even that version is like “Who am I? What am I going through? Why am I crying? They’re little cartoon characters!” because it’s- the lyrics are like… “we are together bulletproof. We have you, have you.” It’s- it’s we are forever bulletproof. It’s about us in them. A fandom that built artists.

And every time I realized that I am a part of this fandom, for better or worse, this really big, really, really incredible fandom that has rough spots, has weird racist spots, has people who banded together, before we knew that BTS had, to do donation chains to challenge each other, to educate each other, and donate and communicate and be better people, like every time, I go “Oh, I am a part of this,” every time my fandoming is reaffirmed, I… I’m glad to be with them. I’m glad to be someone that can call themselves ARMY. And I didn’t think that would happen when I first started listening to BTS. I didn’t think of it when I first heard of BTS— but here we are. I get to be a part of this and I get to be proud of them, and sad when they’re sad, publicly, when they’re sad publicly. That’s how that works.

God how am I gonna handle tomorrow? Well, probably with tears.

36:19 – [musical interlude]

If you’re not quite ready to start on the second part of my two part episode on the virtual concert experience I had with BTS’s Map of the Soul ON:E concert now’s a really good time to take a break. Pause. Go do something else. And think about the feature of virtual concerts in a time of COVID-19. And maybe think about Jimin crying, if that’s your thing. Next episode will be up shortly.