The Rose: Baby I’m alive!

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Author: Andrea Larrotta

October 4th, 2023, I found myself in line to enter the Bill Graham Civil Auditorium in San Francisco, United States. We are just an hour away from seeing one of my favorite bands, “The Rose,” and I can’t contain my excitement. For those who don’t know them, they are a Korean band of rock, indie, and alternative music hailing from Seoul, formed in 2017. The band consists of Kim Woo-sung (leader, vocals, guitar), Park Do-joon (vocals, keyboard, and multi-instrumentalist), Lee Ha-joon (vocals, drums, and keyboard), and Lee Jae-hyeong (vocals, bass, and guitar. And their fandom is called “Black Roses.”

Let’s go back in time a bit. I started listening to them in 2020, when I came across one of their iconic songs, “RED.” Immediately, the rhythm, the lyrics and the vocals captivated me. I felt motivated as if receiving a shot of energy. From that moment on, I began to follow them more closely. Their lyrics inspire me to pursue my dreams and reflect a bit, with lines like: “Don’t live your life as if you have a thousand years” from their song “Childhood,” or “What if we only speak the truth? Will our lives be much calmer?” from “Wonder.”

Back to the present, I’m in line with my best friend, and it feels like a dream. The night falls, and with it, the Civic Center lights up.

Civic Center at dusk, San Francisco. Photograph taken by the author.

This will be the first concert of their “The Rose: Dawn To Dusk World Tour,” and we don’t know the setlist they’ll play, so we speculate and try to guess which songs and their order. The atmosphere in the line is great, everyone chatting about their favorite songs, wearing shirts with the band’s logo, lightsticks illuminating the night, and finally, the entrance:

Entrada Bill Graham Center.Photograph taken by the author.

Once inside the venue and after a considerable waiting time, the lights go out, and the screams begin to echo throughout the auditorium. The stage lights up, smoke everywhere and… they appear! With the electric guitar, the bass, the drums and with a high note, Woosung’s voice is present on stage with “Take me to the dark!”, the audience goes crazy and I immediately know that it is “Eclipse”. The screen behind them shows an Eclipse and zooms in on each of the members, at this point it is inevitable not to scream at the top of your lungs. The first song ends and an instrumental of “Dawn” follows, as if to give us a little break after such a start. The stage lights up again, and Woosung sings “I got you, you got me” from “You’re beautiful”, followed by Dojoon’s wonderful vocals as he plays the keyboard. Afterwards and as appropriate, the two greet each other: “Hi San Francisco! How are you tonight? Remember ‘You’re beautiful and now you’re mine’”, and then the entire audience sings in chorus the last part of the song “Beauty is just a state of mind…”

After playing “Lifeline”, a funny moment happened, because Doosong jokes that on his last visit he said to please invite friends, but he sees a lot of boyfriends and doesn’t know what’s going on.

Continuing with the atmosphere, Woosung asks them to change the color of the lightsticks to red, and then “RED” plays, one of his biggest hits. Dojoon addresses the audience and says “Okay San Francisco, it’s time to say ‘Yes’”, and in response we all sing this beautiful song, the lyrics and sound invite you to say “Yes”, open your mind and let go things that don’t serve you. A couple of songs later the boys start reading the posters that “Black Roses” brought, and I can only say that the marriage proposals for all the members were plenty.

In total the band presented 22 songs, which lasted approximately 2.5 hours of their live music, going through the classics “RED”, “She is in the rain” and driving the audience crazy with “Alive” and “Back to me” songs. from their new album “Dual”. We also hear the beautiful voices of Jaehyeong and Hajoon in “Sour.” They closed their presentation with all the energy playing “Wonder” and a promise: “See you next year, okay?” Below is a photo to remember the moment of “We rose you!” “Dust to Dawn!”

Angel.Photograph taken by the author.

Picking my favorite moment of the entire concert is impossible, because I sang every line of every one of their songs, regardless of whether they were in English or Korean (it should be noted that my Korean is not good). You wonder if there were tears, of course there were! and even the next day my voice sounded funny after all the screaming. Definitely one of the best experiences of my life. 

Now I know that after having seen them on so many occasions through a screen and having dreamed of attending one of their concerts, finally being with them in the same place, listening to my favorite songs live, was a moment that surpassed all my expectations.

If you are interested in knowing the complete setlist, click here and you can find it.

The Rose, Woosung Focus. Photograph taken by the author.

Despite being far from the stage, as my place wasn’t on the floor, I felt so close to them. Hearing “RED” live and seeing the auditorium jumping to its rhythm gave me the certainty that dreams come true if you’re willing to fight for them.

I invite you to listen to them; you’ll identify with each of their songs.

Until next time!

Reading Pair: Adriana Mercado

Reviewed by: Marisol Montiel


Setlist. (Oct 12th, 2023).The Rose Setlist.

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