Author: Anna Franco Ucar
On July 21 this year, Stray Kids headlined the world-famous music festival Lollapalooza Paris, bringing together thousands of their fans from all over Europe, and even some from Latin America, who travelled to the French capital for the chance to finally see their favourites perform. I was lucky enough to be among those fans, and it is definitely an experience I will always remember. From the beginning, while queuing to enter the festival enclosure, everyone’s excitement was palpable, and there was an atmosphere of anticipation. This was accentuated by the fact that, although 27 artists were scheduled to perform on that day, most of the festival-goers seemed to be there to see SKZ. Wherever you looked, there was a mass of SKZOO (Stray Kids’ official plushies), a sea of Nachimbongs (SKZ’s lightstick), various merchandising items, fanmade accessories and banners, and there were even some fans cosplaying as the Stray Kids members. I had never seen so many STAYs together in real life; it was a beautiful sight, and even though I was nervous and scared because I went by myself, being surrounded by so many people who shared the same love for Stray Kids was a real adrenaline booster.
The festival area was divided into different sections, including many bars/food venues, sponsor/social media spots, a Lollapalooza Eiffel Tower, festival merchandising stands, and, most importantly, six different stages for all the performances, out of which there were two main ones: Main West (where Stray Kids would perform) and Main East. Although the opening time was 3 p.m., given that the queue was so long and rather chaotic, I managed to reach the entrance about an hour and a half later. For this reason, despite SKZ not performing until 10 p.m., the last concert of the day, I decided to have a quick look around and then head directly to Main West to secure the best spot I could, as well as seize the opportunity to enjoy the rest of the performances on that stage.
By the time I arrived, the first artist, German pop singer Zoe Wees, was singing the last couple of songs of her concert to an audience that, although rather reduced in numbers (around 2.000 people), was mostly made up of STAY. The next performance was by English indie rock band The Lathums, who put on a very energetic show as the audience kept getting bigger. By the time the third act, amazing American violinist and dancer Lindsey Stirling, was set to start, the crowd had multiplied and was becoming increasingly ecstatic. All three artists put on beautiful performances, and STAY fully engaged with every one of them, enjoying every minute.
At last, after having waited for over five hours, standing the whole time, the stage was prepared for Stray Kids to perform. By then, all the other concerts had finished, so there were about 60.000 people in the audience, all cheering, screaming, and chanting SKZ’s anthem: STRAY KIDS EVERYWHERE ALL AROUND THE WORLD! Amid the chanting, Felix’s deep voice came out in an enchanting whisper, repeating the line one last time, making the crowd go silent. Then the stage came alive with the giant robotic-like legs and all-seeing eye of the spider from “거미줄 (VENOM)”, cueing the song and Stray Kids’ grand entrance. The crowd went wild, and, just like the spider does in the song, we were all trapped by the performance. When it was done, there was barely a moment to catch up our breath before they transitioned into “MANIAC”. The stunning black and white outfits, their presence on stage, the energy and power of their dance moves, and their amazing and stable live vocals confirmed what I already suspected: Stray Kids is an incredibly talented and well-rounded group.
After “MANIAC”, the group took a break to greet the audience and interact a little bit with us. They introduced themselves in French and expressed what an honour it was for them to have been invited as headliners to Lollapalooza Paris. SKZ also seized the moment to be playful, with Changbin teasing STAY by pretending to remove his vest, displaying his biceps even more, or Seungmin introducing himself with a variation of his usual greeting, by saying “Seungmin at the festival!”. Then they went backstage to do a wardrobe change, but not before promising to put on a performance so memorable that everyone would remember the name ‘Stray Kids’.
When they returned to the stage, just a couple of minutes later, they dazzled everyone with their electrifying “소리꾼 (Thunderous)” + “DOMINO” + “God’s Menu” mash-up performance, a combo they had prepared from their “MANIAC 2nd World Tour”. The combination of the performance, more traditional clothing, and the stunning digital projections in the background make this a truly breathtaking staging. HAN and Changbin’s god-like rapping ability; Minho and Hyunjin’s impeccable dance moves; Seungmin and I.N’s flawless vocals; Felix’s powerful deep voice, which is even more impressive live; and Bangchan’s luminous spirit all pair together perfectly in a soul-touching harmony.
Stray Kids are like that: with their music, they gift us an otherworldly experience, and with their charismatic personalities, they show us some times we will never forget. For example, during the following concert break, Bangchan tested STAY on our ability to quickly respond to their song prompts, in which he, for instance, sang the pre-chorus line to “소리꾼 (Thunderous)” and we replied “퉤! 퉤! 퉤! 소리꾼”. The audience succeeded with every prompt he gave us, which positively surprised the members, and HAN even said that we were crazy, in the good sense of the word, of course. In addition, we also got to see Bangchan’s pure and caring personality when he, on a couple of occasions, stopped the concert to make sure that some people who were fainting in the crowd could quickly get to safety, and he also kept reminding us to be careful and to stay safe, showing us that he is not only a fantastic leader who cares for and protects the rest of SKZ, but that he greatly cares about STAY as well.
After making sure everyone was alright, SKZ’s producing sub-unit, 3RACHA (Bangchan, Changbin, Han) blew up the stage with the performance of one of their latest songs, “HEYDAY”, made even more explosive through the use of G Flames, a special effect that lights up the stage with bursts of fire. Then, after another quick outfit change, they whole group returned to the stage to perform some of the songs from their last album release, 5-STAR, beginning with the title track, “특 (S-Class)”. The performance stood out, amongst other things, for the great visual appeal of the members’ mostly red outfits, Hyunjin’s full Versace one being perhaps the most iconic, with the idol fulfilling his new position as Global Ambassador for the brand to perfection. Felix also stood out, as he was the only one not wearing red, but wearing blue tones instead, to match his hair. And during his last line before the song’s dance break, Seungmin held the power by trusting STAY to sing his iconic “We’re special!” line, which we did without a hitch.
Before anyone could process the excitement produced by “S-Class”, the next song, “TOPLINE” started playing. It was SKZ’s live debut for this powerful hip-hop song that is all about how their haters hold no power over them, that Karma gets everyone in the end, and both Stray Kids and STAY had a lot of fun during this performance. Additionally, throughout the concert, Seungmin (predominantly) subtly addressed a common accusation from haters who state that SKZ lip-syncs by singing some of his lines in a slightly different pitch than they are supposed to be to demonstrate that they sing live. Once again, the following song, “Super Bowl”, started playing as soon as the previous one finished, and, in this case, it was also the first time Stray Kids were performing it live, this time with a full choreography. Since this song is fully in English, the audience sang along to it in its entirety and at the top of their lungs. Finally, to wrap up the 5-STAR songs, they performed “ITEM”, one of the songs I was looking forward to the most. The blending of the more melodic parts with the energetic parts is a work of art, but being able to listen to it live took it to a whole other level.
Then, after taking another well-deserved rest, in which they had some cute interactions with STAY and checked whether everybody was safe and having fun, SKZ swiftly moved on to their next set of songs, starting with “Lonely St.”. This time too, they combined three songs into one performance, following the emotional song with “CHEESE”, yet another reminder to haters that the one who laughs last, laughs best, and finishing up with the cyberpunk fun vibes of “SUPER BOARD”, the crowd getting increasingly hyped up as the song progressed. Upon finishing, Bangchan told STAY that the next song would be introduced by Changbin, and as soon as he uttered the first “NaNaNaNaNa” we immediately recognised “My Pace” and joined in the chant. I was so pleasantly surprised to hear them play this song, since it is one of my favourites from their older albums, and I really did not expect them to perform it. This jewel of a song was followed by the incomparable “MIROH”, which in my opinion is a must-have song at a Stray Kids concert, and they did not disappoint. Lastly, they performed “Haven”, a song that perfectly captures the group’s ethos of being true to oneself and at the same time conveys the message that Stray Kids and STAY are each other’s refuge. It was a very emotional performance, with everyone in the audience singing and dancing together with SKZ under the fireworks, really happy to be in that moment but also sad that it was ending. Nevertheless, it is a memory that I will treasure forever.
In short, attending the Stray Kids concert at Lollapalooza Paris was like a dream come true. I still find it hard to believe that I was actually there, just ten metres from the stage, watching my favourite K-Pop group. Despite the fact that after a long wait, the concert went by too quickly, and although I would have liked for them to also perform “DLC”, since they had recorded the MV there in Paris, the experience was wonderful, and I am already looking forward to being able to go to another SKZ concert again. Hopefully, they will have seen how many fantastic fans they have in Europe and Latin America, and, for their next world tour, they can come to visit us too. ❤️
Reading pair: Andrea Ramírez
Reviewed by: Luisa Quintero
Dhan. (2023, July 24). Stray Kids heats up Lollapalooza Paris with more than 60,000 audiences. KBIZoom.
Ji, M. K. (2023, July 24). 스트레이 키즈, K팝 첫 ‘롤라팔루자 파리’ 헤드라이너..6만 관객 열광. Naver. https://n.news.naver.com/entertain/article/109/0004894172
Kim, M. R. (2023, July 23). [현장영상] “STAY, Everywhere”…스테이, ‘특’급 열기.
Koreaboo. (2023, July 28). Lindsey Stirling personally thanks STAYs for supporting her before Stray Kids’ performance at 2023 Lollapalooza Paris. https://www.koreaboo.com/stories/lindsey-stirling-thanking-stays-supported-stray-kids-2023-lollapalooza-paris/
Mane, A. (2023, July 24). “Leaders” – Fans react as stray kids become the first K-pop group to headline the lollapalooza festival in Paris. Sportskeeda – Sports News, Live Scores, Gaming, Fantasy and Wrestling News. https://www.sportskeeda.com/pop-culture/news-leaders-stray-kids-become-first-k-pop-group-headline-lollapalooza-festival-paris
Park, H. J. (2023, July 23). “오늘, 파리가 K팝의 도시”…스키즈, 롤라팔루자의 증명 (종합).
Seon, M. K. (2023, July 21). 스트레이 키즈, K팝 최초 ‘롤라팔루자 파리’ 헤드라이너로 전 세계 팬 만난다. Naver. https://n.news.naver.com/entertain/article/109/0004892798