At long last, I was given the chance to witness the greats and grabbed that chance with a firm grip. But ’twas no simple journey, kemosabe.
I figured I should share my first k-pop concert experience, but the plan to make it one post backfired when I underestimated my ability to ramble on and on and on. This may come across as a diary entry, but aren’t all epic films live action diary entries?
I pray thee, good reader, to relish upon a fair maiden’s journey to observe muses with her naked eyes, and what came across her path to that grail.
Not only did I discover BTS less than two months after they were within a driving distance from me, but the summer they had a concert was the summer I went to see One fucking Direction with my mother. I only went because she didn’t have anyone else to go with her.
When Wings tour was first announced, none of the US dates were in Chicago. I’m not in the point in my life where I would want to go all the way to the coast for a concert or a convention yet, so I said to myself, “Next time, I guess.” Turns out, I was right to have that mindset! 3 weeks later, a Chicago date was added! (Actually, it was Rosemont [same city the first time they were in town, but larger venue this time.] but everyone knows Chicago. Rosemont is really Airport City.) No stressing out over unnecessary plane tickets or absolute requirement to sell concert tickets for me!
Tickets were to go on sale January 6th at 4 pm, and my plan was to be done with my job by 3, race home, and prepare for the internet war of online ticketing. Then two things popped up: 1. My manager would not reschedule my 4:30 to close shift to the morning instead. 2. My mother told me I have a better chance of getting good tix at the box office. Therefore, I went with Plan B; Get up in the morning, go to Allstate Arena’s box office, and wait in line for tickets to go on sale. All I had to do was get the manager who was nicest to me to have me start at 5 PM instead of 4:30 and the plan was flawless.
I was skeptic if a concert led by an Asian boy band would attract a crowd hours before tickets go on sale, so I asked my mom (A chauffeur who drives to the airport everyday, multiple times a day. Rosemont really is Airport City. As well as Concert and Wolves Games City) to update me on the box office’s population while I get as much sleep as I can. 6 AM? Empty. 8 AM? Ghost town. 9 AM? Mom calls me while I’m sleeping to tell me a line has formed. Time for me to go!
Chapter 1: Bitching, Betrayal, and Lots of Bloody Waiting in Below 10 Bloody Degree Weather
10 AM, I arrived to the box office and see my mom with three other ladies standing opposite of a group of men who don’t look like k-pop fans. She didn’t have a pickup scheduled til later, so she held my spot in line for me before my arrival. The three ladies she was with were a ‘journalist’ (she didn’t have journalist identification, she was might have been a blogger.)(Suga biased), a teenage girl (Rap Monster biased), and that girl’s mother (Husband biased).
I ask what the deal is with the group of men. Well this is who they were; You know how you can find tickets for a ‘sold out’ concert on other sites for a more expensive price than the original? There are two explanations for that: 1. The ticket reselling companies have a deal with the concert bosses where they are guaranteed tickets before they even go on sale. 2. Ticket brokers recruit bums they find off the slums of the nearest city, put them on a bus to the box office, give each recruit wads of cash, and have them wait in line early in the morning to guarantee the brokers have the best tickets to rip people off with. Those men (some were women, but muchachos are still muchachos even if it’s one guy versus a dozen women) were recruits.
The mother had the idea to make a separate line from the recruits; One for people are actually going to the concert, and one for anyone who thinks BTS stands for Behind The Scenes. This eventually fell through as a cop showed up and settled the line dispute. The Suga stan was very sure in clarifying that the recruits would be adding more to their party and cut us in line, because there were more of them keeping warm at the Target next door. Cop made a mental note of that and assured us our spots in line aren’t in danger.
So we had to go to the recruits’ line, and I was roughly 12th in line. I brought things to do, but because we had to wait outside in the cold, I was more interested in keeping myself warm. Suga stan was kind enough to lend me a cover up and hand warmers. She was very prepared for the weather. But this wasn’t enough. The cop said we were allowed to go to Target to warm up, and I knew I was under dressed for the occasion. I spent about 30 minutes over there getting some winter gear; an extra pair of gloves, leg warmers, boot socks to wear over my own socks, and a throw blanket. Because more layers means less cold. I also grabbed a small can of Pringles to prevent hunger.
The next few hours were pretty uneventful; the line grew, I got to know those three ladies more as well as a couple k-poppers who waited in line for GOT7 tickets in the past, some folks driving by were amused by our determination for a band they’ve never heard of, got to hear one of the recruits talk about how this isn’t his first k-pop ‘gig’, etc. The reason we all had to wait outside was to not loiter the inside as people could still buy tickets for other events at Allstate. But we were allowed to have 5 minute breaks inside. One of those breaks, around 1 or 2 PM if I had to give a time estimate, Suga stan wanted to talk.
It wasn’t something I did, she just wanted someone to listen to her ranting. She was really pissed about those recruits. She was dead set on getting P1 tickets and those guys were literally in the way of that happening. She also talked about when the recruits were asked if they know anything about the group headlining the concert, and one of them used the word “orientals”. Suga stan is an Asian American. It’s like she needed another reason to be mad at them. Although, she saved a spot in line for a friend, thus making her a hypocrite in terms of line cutting.
While we were having our little chat, the recruits multiplied and made their way in the box office to keep warm. Suga stan was already fired up. I can’t remember if I suggested it or she did, but we decided to look for that cop or any authority to settle this. We unsuccessfully tried looking for someone through the arena’s security door across the box office when the cop was already back there doing the lord’s work. The recruits said they were there since last night (which my mother can refute since she drove by as early as 6, and I also can refute as I drove by around 11 the night before to get familiar with my campsite. If we knew what would happen, we would have taken pictures.) and the cop declared he only saw 8 of them the last time he was there. Point went to Team ARMY as all but 8 recruits were sent to the end of the line and we cheered for the cop for being on our side.
I stayed outside, having loads of fun trying not to get hypothermia, and my mom comes back around 3PM. She was done with work and offered to hold my spot in line while a get lunch. I had only eaten a pack of mini muffins, a small can of Pringles, and fruit-flavored Icebreakers. The only chance of eating I’d get at work was vending machine food. But I felt fine. I wasn’t starving, didn’t feel like going all Donner Party on the teenage Rap Monster stan, I just wanted to get those tickets. So she stayed and kept my toes warm. (It’s not a saga if nobody’s cold.)
This was also around the time I got to see a very important man; the ticket broker who recruited all of those bums. He talked to the Rap Monster stan’s mother, explaining how generous he was to let some of his guys go to (what used to be, I assume) the end of the line. She was a strong, independent woman and requested their conversation to be over. The broker continued on like a big shot, saying “That’s fine, I’ll just make them sell drugs instead!” At the beginning of my 6 hour wait, I didn’t like the fact those bums had to be in the front. At the end of my wait, I couldn’t think negatively towards any one of them. They were just pawns recruited by some proud jerk. If you were ever wait in line for tickets and see people like the recruits in the front, or in line in general, they’re not the ones you should be butthurt over. They are just people who got to take a trip away from their lack of a home all thanks to some douche who sees them as cattle.
Less than 20 minutes until tickets are on sale, the cop gets us all organized. There are six ticket windows and the first person in line goes to one window, the next person to the window next to that, and so on until six lines are established. The broker managed to sneak a couple more recruits to the front. The mother calls it out, but the broker convinced the cop to let them in with his big shot words. I was standing behind Suga stan, fourth in line for the window. 3:59, the box office officially puts the tickets on sale.
The recruits buy their P1 tickets in cash, which takes longer than a simple charge card swipe. 4:01, P1 tickets are no longer available. Suga stan had this mortified look on her face. When it’s her turn, she begs the seller if he can find any P1. He does his computer flippity floppity, and reiterated there aren’t anymore. She was bummed, based on the sound of her voice, and bought one P2 ticket. He said, “…One?” and she said yes. He showed where the seat is for her ticket and tells her it’s in Section 101, Row K. They continue the transaction and she leaves with the ticket in her hand, not happy at all.
I was next. I noticed how that cash counting and P1 ticket searching was rather time-wasting, and hurried up with my purchase of two P2 tickets. “…P2?” “Yes.” He did his typing and showed me where my seats are. He tells me they are Section 101, Row J. I continued the transaction, but I’m thinking “Row J? Didn’t Suga stan get K? J is in front of K, but she bought her ticket before me! Was it because she bought one while I bought two? Was her persistence on getting P1 annoying the seller?” This is a mystery that shall remain unsolved forever. What matters is I didn’t get a shitty seat and paid original price, what else is there to care about?
During and after buying the tickets, I was in slight shock. Nothing like trauma and a mental breakdown, but like when you get a cut so nasty and bloody and scarring, that it doesn’t at first. You feel the pain of paper cuts and toe-stubbing immediately, but for something dead serious, it sometimes doesn’t hurt at the beginning.
That is the shock I went through, minus the eventual reaction afterwards. I remained calm while buying the tix, and couldn’t believe I was holding the envelope in my hands. It didn’t feel real. I was officially going to be in the same room as BTS, but it felt too easy. I guess it’s hard if you don’t like waiting outside in January and be thankful the weather is not below 0. For me, this felt too easy. Especially the fact I could stay for 10 more minutes and still make it to work on time.
On my way out of the box office, I caught a glimpse of Suga stan talking to none other than the ticket broker, inquiring if she could get any P1 tickets from him. Never in my 20 years of life have I seen someone stoop that low. Hours ago, she was bitching about how those bums suck. And here she was with their “employer”, trying to get the tickets they bought with his cash. Before this happened, I might have considered selling my P2 tickets and getting a P1 from elsewhere instead. But this act of ass kissing convinced me I’m perfectly fine with what I have.
Afterwards, I rush to work, 15 minutes to spare, keep my envelope in the glove compartment, and head to work ready to eat only a bag of chips within the next 5 hours. I had some fun telling a colleague about my day and hear her tell me how I was crazy to stay in the cold for six hours. Honestly, I could do it again. But prepared next time. Drive to the box office the night before, make sure no recruits are in sight, and capture the evidence on camera. If it’s gonna be cold, bring a shit ton of layers. Go there earlier than needed and take a goddamn selca to shove in everyone’s faces. Show them who’s gonna get sprayed with oppa’s water at the concert.
Unless it’s a group I’m not that in to. I’ll just go online.
Thus concludes the first volume in this shamelessly dragged out tale. What will our irresistible heroine do with the second ticket? Will she get noticed by senpai? More shall be revealed in the next edition of The BTS Chicago Concert Saga!