Sunday morning around 9.30 am an old white Pontiac Sunbird, with J-Hope song titles scribbled on it in black and blue paint and a human-sized Harlequin clown shoved into the small backseat of the car, stationary outside the main entrance of Lollapalooza while blasting J-Hope songs . Presumably this was meant to inject new anticipatory energy into the crowd lined up against the gate, some of whom had literally camped out for 12 hours before Saturday night’s headliner J. Cole even finished his set. (“My muse,” J-Hope, dressed head-to-toe in Balenciaga, mentioned the rapper when we spoke.) Or rather, the old convertible was the wagon that rang in the new day, who were fans of BTS been anxiously waiting. Hobipalooza was near.
On his Sunday night set, J-Hope would become the first Korean artist to headline a major US festival and the first BTS member to perform without the others since the group’s temporary (temporary!) shift to solo projects. When he was added to the festival in June, along with HYBE label mates Tomorrow X Together, the Lollapalooza tweet the announcement of Hobi’s performance exploded, and the ARMY members I spoke to immediately bought tickets and for the first time attracted festival-goers from all over North America – Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Boston, Juárez, Toronto, Vancouver, Boston – and beyond (including South Korea) to the sprawling Grant Park in Chicago. “Never been before, never coming again,” said one fan, who had been posting on the Bud Light Seltzer Stage barricade all day. “Unless Hobi is playing.”
Photo: BIG MUSIC
“It’s my first time at a festival,” the 28-year-old rapper and dancer told me through his translator on Saturday afternoon. “It is a very special experience, also a new history for me.” J-Hope had recently released his second solo album, Jack in the Box, which revealed a dark side of the sun boy the military is used to seeing. He later hinted at what was to come: “That ‘jack in the box’ concept is rooted in the whole setlist,” he said.
J-Hope told me he was constantly rehearsing for the performance, all too aware of the pressure that comes from stepping onto the stage as the sole centerpiece, without the shield of the other six members singing, dance, act silly or cry. of. Of course, a festival slot, where you have to process songs within strict time limits, is vastly different from a standalone BTS show, where they would be the draw of the night and surrounded by raving fans. “When I chose to perform in Lollapalooza, it was actually a very brave decision, but I don’t regret making that decision, because that ambition, that thirst to perform here has led me to where I am now,” said J-Hope. , adding that the prep without the rest of BTS made him realize how much effort he would have to put into going it alone. “While rehearsing the setlist, I realized I was a little short, but now I’m fully prepared. I just need to set it up.”
So did the sea of festival-goers who waved lit ARMY bombs and shouted and chanted his name 40 minutes before the music started — though J-Hope said he envisioned a more mixed audience of longtime fans and curious newcomers. “I want people who don’t know me to listen to me,” he said. “I’m just going to experience how they’re going to record my music and just feel the vibe.” At 8:50 p.m.—an additional ten minutes before the originally scheduled 9 p.m. start time—Pandora’s voiceover story was released. Jack in the Box‘Intro’ started and J-Hope jumped off the stage, just as he promised me the day before. (“I’ve prepared bangs,” he then said, making the required noise and waving his hand from a fist to a firecracker.)
Photo: BIG MUSIC
Dressed in oversized, all-black, Louis Vuitton embossed denim, t-shirt with holes and work gloves, J-Hope swung, swung and waved across the stage during more raucous songs like “More,” “Pandora’s Box,” “Base Line, ‘What If’ and ‘Arson’ – which closed the first half of his set in a blazing blaze. For ‘Blue Side (Outro)’ his silhouette hung like a puppet in front of a blue screen. “You guys are really fucking crazy,” he said between “Hangsang” and “POP”, both from his 2018 mixtape Hope World. This was all through his own “accurate and thorough” setlist design, he said Saturday, to showcase the “new J-Hope and my musicianship” and the “old J-Hope” from which he can finally come out “my ultimate weapon.” , that is dancing” — a feature that is conspicuously absent in the Jack in the Box music videos, favoring artful stumbling and headbanging instead.
As paramedics rushed to free festival-goers who had been baking under the 85-degree heat all day, he briefly left the stage and reappeared, this time dressed in all-white with blue gloves and transparent neon green sunglasses, launching into the tropical remix of BTS’ first all-English song “Dynamite”. The back half of his 18-song set was filled with songs ARMY had hoped for — J-Hope played “Daydream,” “Outro: Ego,” from BTS’s Map of the soul, and ‘Hope World’, before pausing to sit down. “What the hell, I feel like I’m dying,” he said, before adding, “Are you okay? I’m fine with that if you are,” and jumped up again, the battery was charged. He then launched into BTS’s “Trivia: Just Dance” Love yourself: Answer in “Chicken Noodle Soup,” where collaborator Becky G joined him as a surprise guest. (Fans also hoped that Jimin, who flew out to see his bandmate perform, would show up.) As the 10 p.m. curfew approached, J-Hope spoke in Korean for the first time.
“This is a very important moment for me,” he said in his native language. “I’ve grown so much throughout the journey with the album, and seeing the audience at Lollapalooza today gave me a strong confidence in myself. I am grateful to everyone who came to see my performance. I’m ashamed to say this, but I’m also proud of myself for having survived the challenges so far.”
He then switched back to English to introduce and perform his final song, “Future,” waved to the audience that stretched as far as the north steps of the park, and sank back into the distorted checkered box where he came from. Later, when the swarm of the crowd took to the streets again, J-Hope jumped on V Live (with Jimin) like a newly minted history maker, giggling with post-performance euphoria and sweat still clinging to his neck.