How SEVENTEEN Turned Their Japan Tour Into a Noisy Citywide Extravaganza

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When a major artist comes to the city, he is usually followed by a rush — from the airport to the hotel and to the concert hall. But in Tokyo, the hype around SEVENTEEN began two weeks before the arrival of the boy band PLEDIS and spread throughout the city. The band finally got a chance to headline the Tokyo Dome after their 2020 concert was canceled due to the pandemic. Some of the most popular tourist attractions of the city were highlighted with orange lighting, plastered with photos of the band and voiced by their music. There was a similar story in Osaka, where even the trains were decorated with graphics featuring the band, and in Nagoya — two other stops during their 2022 Japanese tour.

The citywide hype surrounding SEVENTEEN meant HYBE’s plan worked: The City, a project of the parent label of SEVENTEEN, BTS, Tomorrow X Together and other bands, aims to expand and raise the level of concert experience far beyond the four walls of the hall. . The years of The City’s creation were first tested on a smaller scale at the BTS show Love Yourself: Speak Yourself [The Final] in Seoul in 2019. At these concerts, an extensive fan zone was created outside the city’s Olympic Stadium, wider food options were offered and the process of buying goods was improved. Plans to expand on this idea with a BTS world tour in 2020 were thwarted due to COVID-19, but The City made a grand comeback with seven-person concerts in Las Vegas earlier this year. There, fans could visit restaurants offering the participants’ favorite dishes, book hotel rooms dedicated to the band, and much more.

After another successful performance at the BTS show in Busan in October, The City took an ambitious step forward with the Japanese SEVENTEEN tour, which for the first time took place in several cities on the same stage of the tour. The development of the enterprise is fraught with its own difficulties. “Cooperation with local attractions and businesses of the city is what lies at the heart of every City project,” Hyunrok Han, HYBE Japan CEO, tells NME, “and since this requires the creation of a network of events, preparing for each contribution is a difficult process and changes every time.” Using SEVENTEEN’s version of The City in three locations became more and more difficult as more and more partners and different experiences were added to the plan.

The route for this stage of the project was certainly not devoid of diversity or creativity. There were express trains decorated with SEVENTEEN graphics in Osaka. Fans could experience the concerts of the band “Ode to You” in Japan in 2019 through a metaverse displaying a digital version of the Umeda district. You can take part in the stamp draw — a popular event in Japan that sets the course in different places where you can collect stamps — at 18 attractions, including the Hep Five Ferris wheel — of course, also covered with SEVENTEEN graphics. Carats, the group’s fan base, can snag limited-edition tickets for The City train, and at Nankai Namba Station you’ll see SEVENTEEN ads covering stairs and a 70-meter media street. Last weekend in Nagoya, a light indication illuminated the Sakae area.

Meanwhile, in Tokyo, every day could be filled with cases related to SEVENTEEN. In Shibuya, the temporary store boasted racks with special goods, and the “museum” in HMV showed photos, videos and much more, and the “winter illumination” in Tokyo Dome City was illuminated every night of the concert weekend, playing the band’s songs. for example, corresponding to the season “Dear (Holiday version)”. Three seats in the BOX cafe&space were dedicated to the band: their photos were plastered on the walls, a video message from the band played in the background, and dishes were prepared by the band, from tang tang miso soup, chosen by Mingyu, to seafood curry. soup selected by ultrasound.

At Tokyo Skytree, audio-visual capabilities allowed visitors to listen to SEVENTEEN music while looking at the views of the city, or to stop and take photos in special photo zones (including the one where the digital version of the participant you selected stands next to you). At night, Skytree was illuminated by the official orange color of the tour and the symbolic colors of the band, and after concerts, this attraction became a venue for fan parties, where the band’s music videos were broadcast on the glass windows of the observation deck, intertwining SEVENTEEN from the stage below.

Finally, hotel packages like the Royal Park Canvas in Ginza allow fans to relax with free gifts dedicated to the band, SEVENTEEN photo panels decorating their rooms, and a copy of their DVD 2021 SEVENTEEN in Carat Land loaned out for viewing on large retractable projector screens.

“The dome tour in Japan is something that SEVENTEEN and their Carats fans have long considered their ‘dream’,” says Khan. “That’s why we wanted the “City” to add a sense of “unity” to the experience of making a dream come true. To do this, the programs were built in such a way as not to stray too far from our daily lives. The city brought its favorite artist to local transport, to local cafes, to the most iconic sights, which allowed fans to really feel part of this big celebration, this moment of dream fulfillment.”

Outside the Tokyo Dome, as fans gathered outside before the concert began, student Hina told NME that SEVENTEEN events stretching from Shibuya to Skytree made the excitement of the concert stronger than ever. “Seeing them [everywhere] and being able to take part in many [events] makes you feel more alive,” she smiled. “Tokyo is now the country of SEVENTEEN.”

According to Khan, “The City” is not just an opportunity for fans to immerse themselves in the world of their favorite artists: it also provides them with a new space to communicate with other fans. He says that seeing SEVENTEEN enthusiasts “finally able to communicate with each other in person at the attractions of The City” was one of the “most enjoyable moments” of the project.

For SEVENTEEN themselves, seeing their fans get together and get to know new parts of the cities they tour was nothing short of a positive moment. “We are pleased to see that all our Karats are enjoying the City,” the NME group says by email. “We hope that all our fans will be able to take with them some of the best memories of our ongoing tour, all the holidays and impressions we received before and after the show within The City, as well as the joint show of SEVENTEEN and Carats., as the “SVT Team”.

Over the past two years, the local and national economy has been hit hard by the pandemic: large and small businesses have suffered from sudden and permanent closures and cancellations. Japan’s economy shrank by 4.5 percent in 2020, and although it has recovered a bit since then, there is hope that events like “The City” can provide a financial boost — according to Arirang TV, BTS’s trip to Las Vegas had an estimated economic impact of $162 million. .

Although data on the impact of “Be The Sun” and “The City” on Japan is not yet available, SEVENTEEN weeks of activity in Osaka have focused not only on major tourist attractions that have a more reliable financial security system than, say, Mom. -and-pop shops. “We have also implemented local events, such as the SEVENTEEN—themed stamp rally in Osaka, associated with 18 different attractions and popular areas of the city, working closely with local businesses and involving them in them,” Han notes.

A total of 270,000 people attended six shows during the tour, so the growth of the economy and tourism in each city seems inevitable, as fans visit restaurants, shops and hotels not included in the programs of The City. Future versions of the project in Japan are likely to make an even greater contribution — this release was aimed at local fans thanks to the ongoing program of opening and recovery after the pandemic in the country (at the concerts themselves, fans are still not allowed to shout and shout due to the COVID restriction, instead making noise with firecrackers).

Khan also notes that non—SEVENTEEN fans may still be attracted to The City – another potential positive impact on tourism. “We noticed that the crowd gathered around the points of The City attracted the attention of many passers—by, so we hope that the project also helped the efforts being made to revitalize local attractions,” he says.

SEVENTEEN and BTS are not the only bands that will be involved in The City as it continues to evolve and grow. HYBE plans for the project to develop in different locations and with more artists under its banner, and Khan says that each result will be “different every time.” “However, in essence, the goal of The City will always be to provide fans with an extensive and immersive experience,” he says.

Although this innovative and ambitious project is still exclusively the work of HYBE, its success means that it probably won’t take long for other labels – in K-pop and beyond, especially because of the company’s ties with Geffen Records in the USA. – try to reproduce the idea. Although “The City” is not something smaller artists are capable of, some arena and stadium headliners may find creating whole immersive worlds around a tour stop a smart and convincing way to increase revenue and offer fans something new.

For HYBE, this project is ultimately a testament to the thrill of the concert. “The project complements and diversifies the impressions before and after the show, from the moment of ticket purchase, weeks of waiting before the concert, travel to the concert venue and the incessant excitement after the concert,” explains Khan. Every time The City takes place, regardless of the artist or location, the label hopes to learn and understand more about “how all these moments add up to the end of the concert experience.”

As this knowledge grows, Khan is confident that the rest of the industry will make “more efforts to improve each of these points.” When they do, citywide takeovers may one day become the new norm for the world’s biggest artists.

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