On July 9 and 10, Stray Kids took their long-anticipated 2nd World Tour Maniac to the Kia Forum in Inglewood, California. The confirmation of these concerts came as welcome and relieving news to concerned STAYs after the Atlanta and Fort Worth shows were canceled due to members I.N., Felix, and Lee Know testing positive for COVID-19. Fully recovered and ready to go, Stray Kids reunited with their Los Angeles fans for the first time since their 2020 District 9 : Unlock World Tour for a weekend to remember. In the time between their world tours, Stray Kids released three number one charting Korean albums, added 11 more music show wins under their belt and also came away with the coveted title of the sole winner of the boy group competition show “Kingdom.” They left the United States as budding artists with immense potential and came back on this tour as undisputed leaders of the 4th generation of K-Pop.
Best characterized by its dramatic and spectacular stage production, the opening stage and first act set the tone for a night full of jaw-dropping performances to complement Stray Kids’ energetic and diverse discography.
As the lights dimmed, the entire arena shouted in anticipation while thousands of Nachimbong, Stray Kids’ official lightstick, created an ocean of white lights. A suspenseful, instrumental intro of recent release “Maniac,” which doubles as the name of their world tour, echoed throughout the venue. As this title track from their sixth Korean EP Oddinary played, the large overhead stage piece with flashing lights lifted up to reveal the Stray Kids members in shiny white and black outfits.
During the climax and last chorus, the members surprised the crowd by suddenly strutting down the walkway towards the extended stage causing all the STAYs on the floor to scream even louder than before.
As the members struck the final signature “loose screw” pose for “Maniac,” the lights faded to focus on the extended stage where the members immediately went into a dance intro for “Venom.” Once the lights were brought back up, large animatronic spider legs on the main stage came into full view, complementing the futuristic, creature-esque dance break and energetic performance while eliciting audible gasps and “wows” from the audience.
Leaving no time for the audience to rest, next was the highly anticipated eight-member version of “Red Lights,” which was originally a unit song by Chan and Hyunjin from their previous NOEASY album.The members were “chained up” to long leashes that extend from the overhead stage piece. They skillfully navigated the overlapping chains while moving in perfect dance formation paired with the flashing red stage lights. This rendition of “Red Lights” elicited some of the loudest cheers from the crowd that night as it lured fans into an eerie, intimate, and slightly not-safe-for-work experience.
After back-to-back high energy stages, Stray Kids caught their breaths and excitedly greeted the audience, recognizing both returning STAYS who came to their previous 2019 or 2020 tours and new “baby” STAYS. Of course, Han and Seungmin took this opportunity to tease Chan about his “old age.”
Excited to show STAYS more, the members teased the upcoming stages and went on to hype up the crowd with the popular B-side “Easy,” the Korean version “All In” from their first Japanese EP, and their iconic debut song “District 9.”
A suspenseful VCR marked the start of the second act followed by the members returning to the stage in classy, sleek, black and white outfits to perform the upbeat “Back Door.” The boys then brought “Charmer” to life with the clever and playful use of moving, multi-level platforms. After the boys finished the energetic last chorus on the extended stage, they brought mic stands onstage for the emotional anthem of “Lonely St.” During this song, they ran around the stage, making sure to engage with every section of the crowd. Next was a remix of “Side Effects” whose generous use of flashing lasers and lights left fans stunned by the huge contrast from the previous stage.
The next act embraced the beauty of Korean culture with a set heavily influenced by traditional Korean music (known as “gugak”) and modern rock elements. Against a stunning LED display of traditional painting and calligraphy, Hyunjin appeared sporting a hanbok-inspired outfit for his solo dance intro before being joined by the DanceRacha unit (Lee Know and Felix). The whole group then came together and a silence fell over the whole arena. The spotlight focused on Changbin as he rapped without accompaniment and encouraged the audience to shout “Changbin” after he said “Seo” to lead into a dramatic rock and gugak fusion version of “Thunderous.” A live band then joined the group onstage for “Domino” and the remixed version of “God’s Menu,” boasting a grittier, fuller, and more dynamic sound compared to the studio recordings.
The members then took off their hanboks to signify the conclusion of the “gugak” section of their concert and gave shoutouts to their band for making the concert experience more energetic and lively. After talking about how they had burgers the previous night, I.N. made a “cheesy” joke to transition the stage to “Cheese.” The boys then threw it back with the band versions of “YAYAYA” and “Rock,” feeding off of the synergy of the live music and crowd’s cheers.
Instead of a typical VCR or intermission, Han, Hyunjin, Changbin and Felix took the stage to entertain fans with aegyo and special performances as the remaining members prepared for their unit stage. Felix showcased his deep vocals in a stripped down cover of “If The World Was Ending” by JP Saxe and Julia Michaels while Han proved his “all rounder” status with his cover of “Youngblood” by 5 Seconds of Summer.
Chan, Seungmin, I.N, and Lee Know finished their preparations backstage and took center stage with an emotional and ethereal performance of “Waiting For Us.” The gorgeous, flower wrapped mic stands and a hazy, dreamy pink and purple backdrop created the perfect atmosphere to enjoy this powerful ballad. After the performance, Seungmin and Chan took the time in their ment to appreciate and compliment I.N. and Lee Know for performing and giving it their all despite recently recovering from COVID-19. Since he still wasn’t at his best condition, I.N. grabbed the opportunity to make an impromptu request of Seungmin to perform in his place. Seungmin activated his musical genius as he improvised on the spot with the band, giving them specific chords, and building up suspense as to what was coming next.
Suddenly, Seungmin belted the iconic “You know you love me” opening line of “Baby” by Justin Bieber and the entire band, audience, and Chan seamlessly joined in on this spontaneous, fun cover. Seungmin shared that Chan inspired him to sing this song, which led to Chan sharing that his first trainee showcase song was “Baby” with GOT7’s BamBam.
Seeing how much fun Seungmin had with this impromptu cover, Chan requested chords from the band for the next mysterious song he had in mind. Chan guided the band through the opening tune before breaking out into the opening lyrics, “Grips on your waist…” from “One Dance” by Drake. After having too much fun, Chan remembered what their original purpose was and introduced the next stage as a “newly debuted group.” Changbin, Han, Felix and Hyunjin returned to perform their gritty hip-hop track “Muddy Water” where each member’s unique rap styles shone brightly, demonstrating why Stray Kids has one of the strongest rap verses in K-Pop.
After completing both vocal and rap unit stages, the members all reunited on stage in red and black stage outfits for the Korean version of “Scars,” followed by the nostalgic pre-debut song “Hellevator.” With a sentimental piano melody, the stage transitioned to a remixed version of “TOP” where the members once again utilized the raised stage platforms to create a grand, dramatic image. Without missing a beat, they immediately launched into a remixed version of “Victory Song,” which brought fans back to their legendary 2020 MAMA performance to close out the main part of the concert.
Donning their tour merch, Stray Kids returned to the stage to perform the energetic and uplifting tracks of “My Pace” and “MIROH,” complete with confetti and stage effects. In the final ment, Chan thanked his sister in the audience for attending and Hyunjin expressed his gratitude for the ASL interpreter and community the previous night. All the members expressed their wishes to return and gratitude for international STAYs and finished off their encore with the fun and celebratory “Star Lost” and “Haven.”
STAYs were absolutely spoiled with a three hour show packed with popular title tracks, well loved B-sides, unit stages, and plenty of fanservice.
Through this second world tour, Stray Kids demonstrated their ability to capture an audience with their outstanding live vocals, unique concepts, and energetic and dynamic performances. Their return to the States was a testament to the hard work they’ve put in over the past two-and-a-half years and proved that Stray Kids will continue to grow, solidify their musical identity, and leave their own unique imprint on the K-Pop industry.