The fans of BTS aren’t who we thought they were.
In 90 minutes, the South Korean pop sensation sold out four shows at Allegiant Stadium next Friday and Saturday and April 15 and 16, and an army of fans — that’s what they call themselves, BTS Army — will invade the city from all corners of the world to watch the band over two weekends.
The Review-Journal called attention to the show sellouts as one of the tourism success stories of the $2 billion, 65,000-seat stadium and that BTS fans seem to skew younger than the average concertgoer.
But BTS fans immediately took to Twitter to remind everybody that they’re not a bunch of teeny-boppers who will have to be chaperoned to concerts by their parents.
The BTS Army bristles at the notion that they’re all a bunch of too-young-to-legally-gamble screamers following a “boy band” — another term they dislike.
Sources say BTS fans skew younger than most band fans — and they do, if you compare them with fans of the Rolling Stones, Metallica and Billy Joel, who also have had successful concert dates at Allegiant.
Fans from across the globe
One person who anticipated the potential for selling out the stadium was Jared Braverman, senior vice president of touring for Live Nation, which connected BTS to Allegiant.
“We knew there would be incredible demand, given the limited number of shows BTS is currently doing in the U.S., and given that demand, it was important to accommodate as many of their fans as possible that want to see BTS live,” he said.
The loyal and dedicated followers are coming from across the globe to Las Vegas for the four shows, Braverman said.
“Not only does BTS have a global fan base, but Vegas is also a big travel market, so we are seeing fans come from all over the world to see these stadium shows,” he said.
And, as far as the age of the target audience, the decision on where to perform comes from the singers themselves.
“There are a lot of different factors and discussions that go into deciding when and where we book shows, but the decision is mainly driven by artist priorities and what type of experience the artists want to deliver for their fans,” Braverman said. “We don’t take booking a group like BTS in four stadium shows lightly. There is always a lot of preparation and planning that goes into producing an event of this scale.”
Since July, more than 1 million people have attended events at Allegiant, and researchers say 86 percent of them wouldn’t have traveled to Las Vegas had it not been for the stadium event.
The same is expected when BTS arrives.
So who are these people?
Kristine Krupa-Hinsey of Reading, Pennsylvania, and Nicole Caselius of Milwaukee are both members in good standing of the BTS Army.
Both initially connected with the group because they were good moms who investigated what their daughters were listening to online. Krupa-Hinsey and her husband will fly to Las Vegas this month to attend two of the shows.
“I didn’t pay a lot of attention until maybe 2017, and (my daughter) was really, really into them and I said, ‘What’s going on? What’s up with these guys? Why are they so interesting?’” she said. “And then I really started to pay more attention, and guess who’s the bigger fan now?”
Krupa-Hinsey said her daughter has moved on from BTS, leaving her as the No. 1 fan in the household. But a concert the family attended at Citi Field in New York was a musical highlight.
“My husband and I both left the concert saying that it was the best concert we had ever been to,” she said. “The energy around the stadium, you just have to be there. And the crowd was filled with grandmothers and toddlers as well as other adults.”
Caselius had a Korea connection in her life well before she began checking out her daughter’s musical preferences after being stationed there as a Marine.
“I was interested that my daughter was suddenly interested in Korean culture,” she said. “I wanted to know what she was listening to and wanted to know a little more, so I started looking up their videos and looking at their lyrics. What are they saying to her? What are they telling her to do? What are they putting in her young mind? One of the first songs I pulled up was based on a book by Hermann Hesse, and I love classic literature so I was very surprised. A lot of the literature references in their music was a big thing for me that kept me looking deeper and deeper.”
While she won’t be coming to Las Vegas, she said members of her family went to a show in Los Angeles. A crew assigned to pick up trash after the concert told Caselius they were amazed that concertgoers picked up after themselves and there wasn’t much trash for the crew to gather.
“I have seen people with incredible acts of kindness between individual people or small groups of people, nothing as grand as the $1 million donation,” she added, referring to BTS’ donation to Black Lives Matter. “We help each other. We have lawyers. We have medical professionals. Anything you can imagine. That’s because BTS inspires us to do those things, just to be good people.”
To that end, BTS fans are a lot like the Black Hole denizens of the Las Vegas Raiders. They’re generally good people with admirable goals, despite dressing up in scary costumes that make some pause.
The color of choice for BTS Army is purple, but residents of Las Vegas can count on seeing a lot of green when they arrive.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority researched what several different generations of visitors spend when they come to the city.
While millennials spend an average of $1,556 on their trips to the city and have gambling budgets that average $397, some of the older generations spend much more. The LVCVA says Generation X spends $1,776 and on average gambles $770, baby boomers spend $1,894 and play with $772 in the casinos, while the Silent Generation spends $2,128 and gambles $1,260.
Those numbers are based on stays ranging from 4.4 to 4.6 days on average.
For that reason, the resorts are hoping to see a lot of purple in town next month.