On Sunday, January 12, Pledis Entertainment and Live Nation wooed tens of thousands of excited K-Pop fans to Chicago’s United Center. They spent an evening with one of the most beloved idol boy groups in the world, SEVENTEEN, as part of the group’s Ode to You world tour.
Braving the cold and snow, fans of the thirteen member group, loving known as CARATs, filled the city’s famous arena with chatter and laughter as they waited for the evening’s performance to begin. As the minutes to showtime ticked by, an electric energy filled the room as the buzz of the fans grew increasingly excited. With emotions high and the energy crackling, the lights in the massive arena dimmed and the roar of the fans shook the building as the evening’s entertainment began.
Opening the show with an expertly produced video, the energy in the room continued to intensify. With the entire crowd on their feet, CARATs cheered for their favorite members, each as eager as the next to see their beloved idols in person. With emotions so hot they were ready to spark, the members of SEVENTEEN made their way onto stage.
Kicking the evening off with a remix of “Getting Closer” that nearly knocked fans to their feet, the group was gracious enough to give their fans a chance to regroup before moving into their next number. With the second of what would be a continuous string of expertly placed and produced videos, the group made their introductions while their fans roared. Following the video with a remix of both “Rock” and “Clap,” the group wrapped up their first set of songs and went about making their opening introductions.
Greeting their fans with all the usual gratitude and warmth, the group took time to individually introduce themselves and welcome their fans to what was sure to be an evening none would soon forget. Ever grateful for a chance to meet their fans, SEVENTEEN was all smiles and happiness as they thanked their fans for braving the frigid Chicago weather to spend an evening with them. Of course, CARATs were more than happy to return the sentiment, the entire room overjoyed to have this chance to experience moments such as these in person.
Wrapping up the initial greetings, the group moved into the second set of music for the evening. Opening with yet another remix, this time of “Thanks,” the group then moved into a performance of “Don’t Wanna Cry” that brought tears to more than a few eyes. With hearts overflowing with emotion, the audience was given a moment to collect themselves as yet another video played, this one introducing the different units that would be performing next.
The hip-hop unit was the first to take the stage, opening with an arrangement of “Trauma” that left fans clamoring for more. Despite being short a member, as S.Coups was absent for the evening due to illness, the unit’s three other members, Vernon, Mingyu, and Wonwoo, were more than capable of getting the crowd on their feet and dancing. A remixed version of “Chilli” followed and fans weren’t even given a chance to catch their breath before the performance unit took the stage.
With the main stage draped in billowing swaths of gauzy white fabric, the entire arena hummed with the anticipation of what was sure to come next. Entranced by Jun, Hoshi, The8, and Dino’s ethereal presence on-stage, there was a collective gasp of awe before the performance unit began their routine, and then, as the music started, that awe transformed into a bolt of lightning that shot throughout the entire arena. Spurred by the charge of electricity engulfing them, the unit’s performance of “Lilili Yabbay” and “Shhh” left every CARAT shook.
Following up such an unforgettable performance would be hard for anyone, but the vocal unit made it look so very easy. As Jeonghan, Joshua, Woozi, DK, and Seungkwan took the stage, the arena erupted in squeals of delight. Wooing fans with their incredible vocals, the final unit opened their segment of the evening with “Hug,” but it was their arrangement of “Don’t Listen In Secret” that stirred more than a few hearts and brought a few more tears to their CARATs’ eyes.
Joined by the hip-hop unit, DK, Mingyu, Wonwoo, and Vernon continued the trend of wooing CARATs and stealing hearts with their mashup performance of “Can’t See The End” and “Space.” With a crowd hanging on every note, their collective hearts open wide, the rest of the group made their way onstage to present a special performance of “Smile Flower” dedicated solely to those who have supported them so faithfully throughout the years, their beloved CARATs.
Giving their fans time to steady their hearts, the momentum of the evening was carried on by yet another video. This light-hearted fourth video was the perfect way to set the stage for what was jokingly referred to as the “Museum Stage.” In much more casual and brightly colored outfits, the group returned to the stage to perform a series of their older songs, each one appearing to be as beloved by fans as the next. With a set that included an arrangement of “Adore U,” “Pretty U,” “Oh My!,” and “Just Do It,” fans couldn’t help but sing and dance along, the entire arena ringing with their collective voice.
With fans on a high so intense that the air pulsed with it, the audience was given yet another chance to collect themselves as they watched the fifth video of the evening. With very strong spy movie vibes, this next video set the stage for the group’s final set of the evening. Returning to the stage in very spy-esque suits, SEVENTEEN wrapped up the evening with a set that included “Good To Me” and “Happy Ending.” Of course, before they could go, they had to say their final farewells to their beloved fans.
Allowing each member the chance to say goodbye, this final comment segment of the evening was full of genuine gratitude and a whole lot of fun. Hoshi admitted that he was falling in love with Chicago, while DK admitted that he was falling in love with the city’s famed pizza. The group did an impromptu sing-along with the crowd, trying time and time again to stump their fans with increasingly difficult lyrics. A feat they failed to accomplish as it seemed everyone in the room knew each song by heart. The sing-along was followed by an unexpected dance-along in which the entire arena, fans and artists alike, ended up doing the “woah,” much to everyone’s delight.
With their goodbyes said, SEVENTEEN wrapped up the main portion of their show up with “Fear” but, as is always the case at a show such as this, this final performance wasn’t actually the end and fans knew it. As soon as the stage lights dimmed, the chanting in the stands began, a never-ending roar of “SEVENTEEN” that shook the room.
Opening their encore with the final video of the evening, the group returned to the stage one last time. Sporting their tour merch and huge smiles, SEVENTEEN set the tone for the final act with “9-Teen” before taking a seat on-stage to share their final thoughts and say their last farewells.
Though each member expressed his thoughts and feelings in different ways, the sentiment was the same. Each took time to thank their fans for their unwavering love and support. Each wished their fans well, some taking a little extra time to thank CARATs for being willing to come see them, despite the cold and snow, while others made sure to tell fans to be safe going home. Equally expressed was the group’s gratitude and mild surprise at the energy they felt from their Chicago fans. Several members took time to thank fans for their overwhelming energy, as it not only spurred them on during their performance, but also made the evening feel more like a party than anything else.
As is always the case when a K-Pop group visits the Windy City, Chicago pizza was mentioned multiple times and, as always, the fans were delighted to hear the group would be eating pizza as soon as the show was over. Vernon expressed his awe at being able to perform in the same arena as the world-famous basketball player, Michael Jordan, and The8 admitted that he couldn’t wait to come back next time. Though the real highlight of the evening for every Chicago CARAT was Hoshi’s obvious and somewhat unexpected love for the city. Smiling from ear-to-ear, Hoshi couldn’t talk about how much he loved Chicago, even going so far as to rename the city, “Hoshicago,” much to his fans’ delight.
Wrapping up their comment segment with a group photo, SEVENTEEN moved into their final two songs, “HIT” and a never-ending version of “Very Nice” that had the entire arena singing, dancing, and laughing as an equally never-ending shower of confetti rained down on everyone in the room. The genuine smiles and silliness of the group, as they said goodbye time and time again, only to return for more antics and song, made fans feel as if the group were as reluctant to leave as they were.
Unfortunately, as is always the case in moments such as these, all good things must eventually come to an end. As the members of SEVENTEEN disappeared into the darkness waiting to claim them backstage, fans stood and waved, wishing their beloved group all the best as the evening officially came to a close. As the house lights raised, fans began to make their way through the confetti covered aisles, their eyes as bright as their smiles as they took with them an evening of memories none will soon forget.
Written and photographed by: Leah W.