On September 5, 2023, aespa performed the final show of the U.S. portion of their SYNK HYPER LINE Tour at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Of the three concerts I had purchased tickets for in 2023 (as of the date of this particular show), this was the one I was looking forward to most. After watching their Korean SYNK HYPER LINE concert online, I knew that this would be something I wanted to see in person.
And when tickets went on sale, I scooped up the best available VIP ticket in the lower bowl section of Barclays. The benefits of this ticket were early entry, first dibs at merch and sound check.
On concert day, I arrived at Barclays Center just before 3:00 PM and checked in. After about an hour, those with VIP badges and wristbands lined up to enter the building.
This was an organized line compared to the previous concert I attended a week earlier at UBS Arena, and It was nice not to be constantly concerned about whether I was in the right place this time.
Once inside, it was off to the merch table to pick up some swag. Knowing what merch was available a few days ahead, I picked up the zip hoodie and one of the tour shirts with all the cities and dates on the back. However, I added one of the graffiti design shirts at the last minute since it looked pretty cool in person.
Unfortunately, the merch table did not sell an additional tote bag or provide cheap plastic or paper bags to store my newly acquired stuff. So, I had to do my best to bundle everything together and lug it around until I could keep it all under my seat for the rest of the night.
After hanging out for a bit, the hoard of VIP people were allowed to find their seats. As expected, most of them were on the floor, with a scattering of people around the bowl areas near the stage where I was sitting.
Thanks to the virtual tour I took of Barclays when selecting my seat, I had an idea of my view, but the real thing was much better than I had seen on my computer. It was an excellent view to see the sound check. Or at least I thought.
Unfortunately, before the sound check started, those of us in the bowl sections were moved to the back rows on the floor to help fill out the crowd and give that sense of “fullness” for when aespa came out.
Everyone in those sections begrudgingly complied with many of the shorter people expressing dismay loudly. When the members of aespa came out, it was difficult to see them because the view did suck. And with no rule against filming during the sound check, it was phones up the entire time. It brought back nightmares of my (G)I-DLE experience in Seattle.
So when I had a clear view of the left side of the stage, I looked there, but otherwise, I was staring at the monitors behind the stage to see who was who. The sound check comprised of a 4-song set:
- Lucid Dream
- Welcome to MY World
- Don’t Blink
- Hold on Tight
Of course, the ladies were not going all out during these songs, and it was a relatively chill affair. Seeing aespa in person is somewhat jarring as they look exactly like you see them on video. Even in casual clothing, they looked unreal. SM Entertainment did a fabulous job building these androids.
When the sound check ended, the crowd was allowed to do whatever until show time. I placed all my stuff in my seat and went to the main concourse to find something to drink. Not much was open; all I could get was a $9 Pepsi at one of the stands that looked ready to serve customers.
As for the concert? It was great. The set list and VCRs were as I had seen online when they started their tour in Korea (except for one song added later in the tour). Even though I’m not the biggest fan of some of aespa’s more lore-heavy tracks, I acknowledge that the music and visuals behind those lyrics are fantastic.
The concert’s highlights for me were Winter’s brief guitar solo during Girls, the solo stages (especially Giselle and Ningning’s), and the performance of Hold on Tight. I was looking forward to seeing that song live after seeing the video of it performed for the first time at the Tokyo Dome. The fact that I got to see it twice had me completely satisfied.
Special mention goes to the final encore song, ICU, where folks in the crowd were throwing plushies onto the stage. Some people have good arms. Also, watching the members pile up everything at the front was pretty cute.
Going into this concert, I had high expectations and wasn’t disappointed. Was it as elaborate as some of their shows in Asia? Nope. But that didn’t matter. It was just as much fun as I had hoped and will probably go down as my favourite live event that I have attended in 2023.
The next stops in aespa’s tour (as of the publishing of this article) are in Europe. You are in for a good time if you have tickets to one (or more) of those upcoming shows.