As a cluster of tourists made their way up a staircase to the top of the Big Apple's Empire State Building, BTS donned smiles in front of an illuminated image of the New York City hot spot. No amount of planning could have predicted that they were going to be mere feet away from one of the biggest cultural phenomenons of recent years, but nevertheless, that's part of the beauty of visiting a major metropolitan city. You never know who you might come across.
It was just one of the many stops that the K-Pop group had on their almost-week-long domination over the New York City area following two back-to-back shows at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium. With their increasing visibility (and accompanying success) across America, it almost felt necessary for the septet to take a breather and spend Tuesday night (May 21) with their fans, collectively known as ARMY, during iHeartRadio LIVE with BTS. And just like we expected, the intimate evening (with host Elvis Duran in-tow) turned out to be a glimpse of Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook in their element and free to be themselves amongst 200 or so fans, including one by the name of Halsey.
In between listens of "Mic Drop (Steve Aoki Remix)," "Make It Right" and "Mikrokosmos," BTS went in and out of playful conversation, much of which their ARMY screamed and shouted during, but the most insightful moment arrived when Duran asked the group about their future. "We love this moment, right?" RM told the audience. "Maybe I think after this iHeartRadio [show], our next goal is to perform in this small room and have this little vibe of us being together. That's another dream. Since we're performing in big stadiums, maybe sometimes we want to do the little shows." It was a revelation that paired well with the group's rising popularity and recent appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, where they recreated The Beatles' iconic 1964 U.S. television debut in the Ed Sullivan Theater. "What I gotta say is we're under the inspiration of The Beatles," RM said of the comparisons, adding, "Every artist is under the inspiration."
Even though the event was meant to be an intimate night of conversation and tunes, iHeartRadio LIVE ended up playing out like a mini-concert of sorts, but the ARMY was in charge of singing, with some added participation from BTS, of course. The synchronized choreography and slick performance wardrobe wasn't included in their presentation, but it didn't really seem to matter. The group bounced to the ripple of energetic fans. They worked in a bit of dancing. They even showed love to their most recent collaborator Halsey by plugging her new single, "Nightmare." To their surprise, the pop star was in the building and stopped by for a brief appearance, but it was, ultimately, her endorsement of their work ethic that really moved the crowd. "They work very hard, too hard sometimes, but they love what they do, so it really shows," she gushed. "The last time we performed together, they had just flown in and everyone was really jet lagged and we were all up super late rehearsing. They already knew what they were doing, but they stayed in the rehearsal, so I could get comfortable."
When it came down to talk of other collaborations, BTS shared a list of dream folks like Drake, Lil Nas X and Coldplay, but for the time being, it seemed like Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook were content on keeping the focus on their ARMY, and with their track record thus far, that seems to be just fine.
Photo: Rachel Kaplan/Katherine Tyler for iHeartRadio