By Pen Fang
As part of the European leg of their [THE FELLOWSHIP: BREAK THE WALL] tour, ATEEZ performed to a sold-out O2 Stadium of 20,000 people in London on February 22. They are the first fourth-generation K-Pop group and the fourth overall to perform at the venue.
The 22-song concert is nothing short of spectacular. The concert kicks off with their song “New World” (following the opening VCR), plunging the audience into the storyline as the members unveil themselves amidst the illumination of triangle lightsticks and red stage lighting.
The first segment of the concert is hard-hitting, consisting of many songs from ATEEZ’s THE WORLD EP.1: MOVEMENT–from which the title of the tour comes from–as well as older numbers like “Answer” that carry on the hype. Each song is a feat made possible by the members’ talent and passion.
The crowd is another sea of lights and enthusiasm as fans of ATEEZ, named ATINY (a combination of ATEEZ and “destiny”) wave their custom lightsticks to cheer the group on.
Perhaps more intriguing is the establishment of the group’s fictional storyline through the tour. The concert dips the audience into the world of ATEEZ’s lore alongside the members. Their most-recent comeback, Spin-Off: From the Witness, established a point of view of ATEEZ’s lore coming from outside the members. It seems they have incorporated the concept into the tour itself, with the fans becoming the witnesses of the lore.
And it’s a great time for the fans. The members joke and talk with the audience, bringing out loud cheers. During “Illusion” and “Wave,” the group brings out customized tour balloons and plays with the crowd.
During “WIN” and “Horizon”, the group unveils a pirate ship-themed part of the stage, a nod to their roots (one of ATEEZ’s central concepts has been the pirate concept). It is followed by perhaps the quintessential ATEEZ song, “Say My Name,” with the crowd and members cheering “ATEEZ present” in tandem.
“The Last Battle” contains some of ATEEZ’s most energetic songs. “WONDERLAND” stuns as usual with its intense choreography and vocals. In one of my favorite moments, members Wooyoung and Yunho give the illusion that they are really jumping into the ring and fighting during “ROCKY”.
But in my opinion, the pinnacle of this ATEEZ tour lies in the song “Guerrilla.” The song and album brought about a monumental moment for the group, being their first million-seller and their first entry in the top 10 of the Billboard 200.
It also marked a shift in the group’s lore and concept when it came out: revolution. “BREAK THE WALL,” the crowd screams as ATEEZ launches into the hard-hitting final segment of the song. The album is the embodiment of ATEEZ’s dedication to the details and sticking true to themselves, from putting up cryptic poster QR codes to promote the album to the fiery choreography that went viral for its difficulty and the unique musical and conceptual styles.
The penultimate song on the tracklist is “From,” written, composed, and produced by the members during their pre-debut days (when they still went by the moniker “KQ Fellaz”). It’s a testament to their progress as well as a callback to their start.
Concluding the concert is the song “The Real,” which ATEEZ composed during their time on Kingdom: Legendary War for the final round. Like “Say My Name,” the song opens with “ATEEZ present!” and featuring a humorous cheekiness in its lyrics, as well as elements of Korean culture. The song ends with a dance break, in which two members improvise amidst the cheers of the other members and the backup dancers.
“Nothing in this world is guaranteed. We’re always grateful for everything. It’s something we’ve discussed as a group, but it’s all thanks to ATINY’s love and support that we’re where we are now,” member Wooyoung said. “To become global artists and a good influence on even more people, we have to hold a sense of responsibility to give our all on stage and deliver our truth. Honestly, it’s less about dreaming of an unknown future and more about how we have to work harder so we can go even higher and pave our own path.”
“I want for us to provide people with a better understanding of K-pop worldwide,” Hongjoong, the leader of the band, elaborated. “There are people who continue to say that K-pop is so technical and manufactured, but K-pop isn’t just a single genre; each group has a different type of art and I want to show how we express our art to everyone.”
Since their explosive debut, ATEEZ have been consistently raising the standard for K-Pop performance. From their unique rebel-pirate concept to their dedication onstage, the group has been loud in their impact. Just recently, they opened for KCON LA, the world’s largest convention for Korean music and culture. Their international fame is remarkable for a group from a relatively unknown company.
Their style of music often veers away from the mainstream, experimenting with different genres while remaining true to what could be defined as their own sound.
“Many people say that I can be proud of being a group from a small company that has made their own way,” Hongjoong, the leader of the band, said. “So if we continually do it like this with ATINY, then in the future people might agree that ATEEZ have made a change in K-pop. I think for now, though, we haven’t done enough.”