by Sara Conway ’21 A&E Co-Editor
If you are somewhat familiar with the K-pop group Seventeen, chances are the first things you think of are their complex choreographies and that they do not, in fact, have seventeen members. The thirteen that make up Seventeen debuted on May 26, 2015 under the South Korean entertainment company Pledis Entertainment with the song “Adore U.”
A unique aspect of the group’s concept was that the members—whose ages range from 20 to 24 years—divide into three sub-units: the Hip Hop Unit (for the rappers), the Vocal Unit, and the Performance Unit (for the dancers). The Hip Hop Unit is composed of the main rappers, S.Coups—who is both Seventeen’s leader and the unit’s leader, although he was absent on the group’s recently concluded North American tour to focus on his mental health—Wonwoo, Mingyu, and Vernon. Woozi, the composer of the majority of Seventeen’s songs, heads the Vocal Unit which also includes members Yoon Jeonghan, Joshua, and vocal powerhouses DK and Seungkwan. Twenty-three-year-old Hoshi takes the role of leading the Performance Unit and creating some of the group’s choreography alongside Wen Junhui, The8, and Dino, the youngest member.
Seventeen, known as “self-producing idols,” embarked on the North American leg of their Ode To You World Tour on Jan. 10, their first stop being the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The group’s last world tour in 2017 followed the release of their full-length album TEEN, AGE and landed in venues such as New York’s Terminal 5.
Seventeen’s Ode To You World Tour was announced on the heels of the release of An Ode in September, their longest musical project since TEEN, AGE. The remainder of January saw performances in arena venues in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Mexico City, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Seattle. The Ode To You Tour will pick up again in March—after the group takes a break in February—continuing their world tour with shows spanning across Europe.
During their concert in Newark, Seventeen showcased their playful and highly sophisticated sides, their growth as artists, and their dynamic as a group. Before the show, member Hoshi secretly joined the random dance play happening outside of the Prudential Center, initially pretending to be a cameraman in the crowd that had gathered. Seventeen kicked off their concert with “Getting Closer,” a song of vocal intensity and incredibly in-sync choreography, automatically setting the tone with lyrics such as, “This dance, you’re getting closer / Breathlessly I want you / Want you.”
The set of Ode To You mixed old, new, fan favorite, and never performed live songs all with the theme of being an “ode to you”— “you” being their fans, named Carats. Hoshi, who acted as the leader in S.Coups’ absence, made a nod to this in his opening statement, concluding with “let’s make a lot of good memories together.”
Following group performances for “Rock,” “Clap,” Thanks,” and “Don’t Wanna Cry,” each unit showed off stages for two of their songs. The Hip Hop Unit performed a remix of “Trauma” from TEEN, AGE and “Chilli” from the group’s mini-album You Made My Dawn, which was released in early 2019. “Lilili Yabbay” from TEEN, AGE and “Shhh,” also from You Made My Dawn, by the Performance Unit kept the energy high in the venue. The Vocal Unit created an emotional atmosphere with their performance of “Hug” from the same album and “Don’t Listen in Secret” from Going Seventeen, closing the unit songs.
Singing “Smile Flower” marked the midpoint of the concert, which the members dedicated to Carats, their fans who have been by their side since May 2015. Seventeen (sans S.Coups) spread out along the edge of the extended stage so that a member faced a part of the illuminated audience. Carats even sang a chorus of “Smile Flower,” filling the arena with mutual emotion: “I can smile because we’re together / I can cry because it’s you / So what can’t I do.” The members gazed out into the crowd, singing quietly along, while bathed in purple-colored light, taking it all in.
Seventeen also showed their fun side and their group dynamic during the Ode To You tour. Seungkwan jokingly told Hoshi and Joshua, “It’s not your solo concert!” and to stop hogging the spotlight when the two captured the attention of the audience and the cameras during the opening statements. The members also playfully pushed Wonwoo towards the front of the main stage to demonstrate his “feeling” of being on tour. In response, he screamed, “Make some noise!” (without a microphone) in his deep voice which carried out to everyone in the crowd. During the ending statements, various members, including Hoshi and Jun, did an energy check. Earlier that evening Seungkwan switched the lyrics of the group’s song, “Moonwalker,” for “Newarker.” Jun brought the pun back by having the crowd sing “moonjunwalker” multiple times.
The fun continued with the stages set in the “SVT Museum.” As the lights came up, the audience found the members frozen in poses behind huge frames as if they were part of an exhibit. The older songs performed with this set—debut song “Adore U,” “Pretty U,” and “Oh My!”—were paired with bright colors, looser costumes, and lighthearted but energetic choreography. However, the synchronization Seventeen is well known for remained even in these playful songs.
To wrap up the “SVT Museum” portion of the concert, all of the members performed “Just Do It,” which is normally a BSS (BooSeokSoon) unit song. This unit was formed in 2018 with the release of the digital single “Just Do It” and comprised vocalist Seungkwan (his last name is Boo), vocalist DK (his real name is Seokmin), and performance leader Hoshi (his real name is Soonyoung). To kick off the song, DK shouted into the crowd, “They call us…Seventeen!” adjusted from “They call us BooSeokSoon!” to fit the all-member version.
Ode To You in Newark closed with the never-ending “Very Nice.” As soon as it seemed like the concert was officially over, there was another upbeat burst of the chorus, “Aju nice!” and another thick flurry of confetti raining over the crowd. The concert was really thought to be over after the third repeat when the members went back to the main stage and took their bows, supposedly concluding with their cheer, “Say the Name, Seventeen!”
Seventeen fooled their fans yet again when the members waved goodbye as the Ode To You divider slid shut. There was a split moment of fans starting to gather their things when the chorus came blasting back. With the new repeat of “Aju nice!” Hoshi raced ahead of the rest to the extended stage among another burst of white confetti. The real end and the last goodbye had officially come: after their bows and their last cheer, Seventeen sang the closing line of the song from their reality television show, “Going Seventeen.”
The first show of the Ode To You world tour in North America was one filled with laughter, fun, and heartfelt emotions between the members of Seventeen and their Carats—the fans who have cheered on the group through their artistic journey, as the lyrics of “Smile Flower” say, “Our smile flowers bloom / I’ll be the spring to your smile.”