Usually at K-pop concerts, the goofy chaos doesn’t kick in until the final section of the show, but at Tomorrow X Together‘s second night in New York as part of their ‘Act: Sweet Mirage’ US tour, it begins early. After their opening run concludes with a boisterous ‘Cat And Dog’, the five-piece take a break to whip up disarray. First, they encourage the audience to repeat the barking refrain from their last song, before the members share their own attempts at woofing. Canine impersonations over, TXT move on to playing around with lightsticks, each member taking turns to conduct a section of the crowd through silly moves.
All this is very cute and fun but, in terms of the bigger picture of the performance, it’s also stilling. It quickly disrupts any momentum that was being built and highlights the feeling from the preceding tracks that the group are still warming up, five songs in. That they don’t come bursting out of the gates instantly is perhaps understandable – this is only the third show of the US leg of the tour, which marks TXT are first time playing arenas in the country, graduating from their theatre-sized tour last summer.
If it takes a hot minute for the boyband to get fully revved up, the production is on point from the get-go, suiting the grand size of the venue and then some. At the end of early highlight ‘9 And Three Quarters (Run Away)’, Hueningkai delivers a solo dance break where he becomes a princely wizard, sparkles swirling around him on the screen as he elegantly twirls and spins. Seconds later, metallic confetti begins to fall from the ceiling and, as it catches the light, it looks like gold dust fluttering down around him.
Earlier, a shortened version of ‘Drama’ sees the group passing a brightly coloured basketball around the stage before launching it towards a CGI hoop on the back screen, while ‘Anti-Romantic’ is accompanied by visuals recalling Beauty And The Beast, with a red rose wilting under a domed glass jar. It’s the shape-shifting ‘Eternally’, though, that stuns the most, its gentle, melancholy verses visually scored by smooth white and blue light. When the song glitches into its darker moments, though, flames shoot towards the sky, everything turns red and lasers judder frenetically across the crowd. They’re effects that heighten the excitement of the music, making the lurching changes feel larger than life.
Once TXT hit their stride, their performance feels right at home too. ‘Can’t You See Me?’ is ferocious, the group blazing through the track before a part of the screen behind them lifts to reveal a glowing red light, as if calling them into their own personal inferno to match the raging emotions in the lyrics. The dubby Afrobeats of ‘Tinnitus (Wanna Be A Rock)’ finds them leaning into a more mature groove, with choreography (and scream-inducing abs flashing) to match.
There are moments of pure artistic beauty, too. ‘Opening Sequence’ begins with the group splitting into pairs (Hueningkai and Taehyun, Beomgyu and Soobin) plus a solo Yeonjun to deliver sophisticated dances set to classical refrains. The moves are poised and perfect, upping the drama in the room before launching into the anguished song while, just before the pain reaches its peak in the outro, four of the members fall to the floor, their bodies in a circle around Taehyun as he embarks on his own brief solo steps, surrounded by pillars of white light. It’s one of the pinnacles of the set, its dynamic, unpredictable choreography bringing a rush of goosebumps.
Afterwards, Hueningkai asks Yeonjun if he was lonely dancing by himself, to which the rapper replies that he’s never alone with MOA. That might be the kind of response you expect to that question, but there’s truth within the fan service. Throughout TXT’s concert, there’s a feeling of unity bonding the 19,000 fans – and the boyband – whether they’re barking as one, learning choreography under the guidance of the members, or screaming each lyric in harmony.
Nowhere is the latter more potent than during ‘LO$ER=LO♡ER’, where the whole venue yells “I’m a loser / I’m a loser” with emphatic joy, like a communal epiphany of self-acceptance and a celebratory reclamation of that uncool status. Togetherness is a sentiment that runs through the penultimate track of the night as well. ‘Blue Spring’ is a brand new song that TXT are debuting on this tour and it pays tribute to their relationship with their fans. “When we’re high, when we’re low, you’re always by my side / All my youth is filled up with your warmth,” they sing to the crowd in the sweet ballad.
“At last year’s concert in New York, I told you that I’m growing every day because of MOA,” Hueningkai recalls during the band’s final comments as the concert begins to wrap up. That continued growth is obvious tonight, not just for TXT’s maknae – whose all-round skills are brighter and tighter than ever – but the band as a whole, who have come on leaps and bounds since they were last in the US. Beomgyu’s cheeky, chaotic energy drives the between-song (and sometimes during) giddiness, Yeonjun has stepped fully into the confident, charmingly cocky showman role, and Soobin and Taehyun’s vocals have somehow become even more divine than before.
After the audience get a few more rounds of barking in for good measure, TXT bring the night to a close with ‘Our Summer’, a sun-kissed goodbye that bottles the sweet feelings shared between band and fans tonight one last time, and promises equally heartfelt reunions in the future. “No matter where you are, no matter what season,” the group sing happily. “If we’re together, feel like summer.”
Tomorrow X Together played:
‘Can’t We Just Eat The Monster Alive?’
‘Cat And Dog’
‘9 And Three Quarters (Run Away)’
‘We Lost The Summer’
‘Can’t You See Me?’
‘0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You)’
‘Good Boy Gone Bad’
‘Tinnitus (Wanna Be A Rock)’
‘Devil By The Window’
‘Angel Or Devil’
‘Sugar Rush Ride’