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Stray Kids Are Here To Stay: A Look at the Fan-Idol Relationship at Stray Kids’ UNVEIL World Tour!

By Kaitlin Cunanan | May 17, 2019 11:06 AM EDT

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Stray Kids - Live in Newark
(Photo : Karen May)

On May 14, 2019, Stray Kids stepped out onto the New Jersey Performing Arts Center stage in Newark to kick off the American leg of their UNVEIL Tour 'I am... ' held by Subkulture Entertainment. Stray Kids debuted just last year on March 25, 2018, after much toil on their eponymous survival show, and they've been making waves in the music industry ever since.

It's only been a year since Stray Kids first headed to the United States for KCON NY in 2018, and the fans of Stray Kids, called Stays, were all the more eager to welcome their favorite artists back to the States for their first ever world tour. The anticipation for the show was high, as Stays lined up for ages to buy merch and shouted fan chants to Question and Boxer deafeningly loud - and among these pre-show rituals, some Stays passed out cutely illustrated banners as a fan project.

Fan projects are a staple at every concert, as fans band together to give their favorite artists a warm welcome. These projects are backed by equal parts of love and hard work. This particular fan project was headed by Cap (@capseoule) and Mimsy (@mmiimmssyy), who started a Stray Kids fan group lovingly dubbed 2BASCO in honor of Stray Kids' own 3RACHA rap trio. We were able to speak with Cap and Mimsy to get the inside scoop on their fan project and their own (relatable!) journeys as Stays. 

What made you become fans of Stray Kids?

Cap: For me, it was actually through Mimsy! She sent me a photo of Felix and I saw their music video was titled District 9, which honestly made me think of the movie, so I watched it and loved it. What really got me hooked to them, though, was finding out about 3RACHA, because their vibe just felt super real and authentic and you could see how that transferred to Stray Kids as a group.

Mimsy: Their music by itself caught my attention first with their I Am NOT album, and I stayed for the goofy "3RACHA" subunit name. After that, it was all downhill for me once I found 3RACHA's SoundCloud. I loved that they clearly have fun creating as a group and are transparent about their process making their music and finding their own sound. It really hits home as an artist myself.

Stray Kids first stepped foot in Newark at KCON last year. What was your reaction to finding out they were coming back to the states for a full tour?

Mimsy: I hope it's appropriate to say we lost our s--t because that's what happened! I'm definitely not used to how active they are in posting content and touring and rapid-fire releases but I feel so blessed that we are getting to see them in concert once for every year they've been active as a group so far! Speaking from experience, there aren't many (or any?) other groups I can say that for.

Cap: Oh yeah, complete and total agree! We were so excited to be at KCON to welcome them to their first time in the USA, so we were so excited to see that we'd be welcoming them to the USA for their world showcase!.

What is it about Stray Kids you relate the most to? Is there any particular member/members you connect to?

Cap: I can just relate to their entire chemistry. All groups have great chemistry together, but Stray Kids just feels like home. They way they interact with each other and all the silly things they do together reminds me of my friends and me, and how we do dumb stuff together too. As for relating to a specific member, my friends say I'm Bang Chan - not just because we like to wear all black though! But I guess I can connect with him: I feel his view of always wanting to please everyone and make sure his team and everyone else is doing well apart and together. I always seem to be doing that with my friends and just want the best for everyone and to live genuinely.

Mimsy: Yeah, for me it's also being able to relate to how they relate to each other, but I think it's true how people say the members you bias are most likely the closest to how you are yourself. I see a lot of myself in Woojin and Jisung, both in how they are and how they interact with the other members: Woojin, with how he's the oldest but not necessarily the leader, picking up where Chan leaves off and being a warm backbone for the team. And then there's how all our members of "2BASCO," as we call ourselves, happened to pick out each member of 3RACHA on our own. There's a lot of that dynamic and friendship I think our group mirrors without meaning to, and whenever we catch it watching their content going like "wow that's ... just us," it's always a funny and good time to see others enjoying their friendship and working creatively together the way we do with each other!

Can you tell us more about 2BASCO and the fan project for Newark?

Cap: As Mimsy said, we formed 2BASCO as a counterpart to 3RACHA because we saw ourselves in them so much and it ended up just sticking! And even within our close friend group, we find that people resemble other members of Stray Kids and it ends up just bringing us all closer! As for the fan project, when we heard that they were touring in the US, we felt like we really wanted to do something for them. We always make cheeky little homemade fans for concerts but this time we really wanted to do something big for them! And as artists we were really excited over the idea of designing a banner for them because no one's ever really seen original art on a banner before - so we wanted it to be a really unique experience for Stays and Stray Kids! But we're really surprised and happy that there was such a positive and supportive response for our project. We've been told a lot that what we're doing and making is so amazing and different and it makes us super happy.

Mimsy: It mostly means a lot to us because to be able to share our work with the idols that inspire us to collaborate as artists. Also, the combined efforts of all these different Stays that are both attending and not to put something together and make their first US tour memorable in some way is a great experience to be part of and be able to share with everyone else!

Just as Cap and Mimsy were able to tell us about their story with Stray Kids, Stray Kids used their UNVEIL tour to tell their beloved Stays their own story.  

It was only fitting that Stray Kids started off the night with Hellevator, as the boys' first music video release and the beginning to the story of Stray Kids and Stays. They continued with songs off of their first release Mixtape with hard-hitting Beware, rife with fans growling along. In coordinated red-toned and leather outfits, Stray Kids dominated the stage, and the hearts of their Stays.

Their story continued as they transitioned into their debut EP I am NOT with "Awaken" - lights flooded the stage with red, calling Stays to wake up! Everyone shouted the words to the iconic "Stray Kids everywhere all around the world" chant for District 9, the boys' debut song - and Stray Kids finally get the chance to meet their Stays everywhere, all around the world.

Their performances for I am WHO were especially gorgeous - WHO? used dramatic lighting and a frame as a prop to give the dance performance an ethereal twist, Stays watching with excitement as the boys danced with and questioned their reflections. Stray Kids followed with "Insomnia" and "Voices", followed by an emotional ment.

"All the songs we performed just now were songs we wanted to tell our Stays," Bang Chan explained. "On the 'net', you guys tell us your stories of your depression and anxiety, or your work and your school - you guys aren't the only ones. We've also experienced hardships, and through these songs we've also dealt with them, and we want to share that with you." With 'Insomnia' and 'Voices', it is Stray Kids' heartfelt way of taking care of their Stays. With all these voices in our heads, we should step out of them and go our own way.

Stray Kids moved on to their second EP I am YOU for My Side, showing off the sentimentality and strength of both their vocal and rap lines, followed by a short yet still touching ment. Woojin expressed his nervousness about the language and cultural barrier to get the feelings of My Side across - but with all the Stays singing along, Woojin knew that the opening line of "I hope this song's lyrics will reach your ears" was definitely fulfilled.

"I think that the best connected between Stay and Stray Kids is through music," Seungmin said as Stays cheered in agreement.

After a VCR of Stray Kids' preparation for their concert, with an explanation of their setlist and lots of aegyo during practices, the boys re-entered the stage with an outfit change from their red-toned outfits to blue tones, with a special shout-out to Hyunjin in a harness and Changbin's now blue leather pants. The hard-hitting EDM beats and charismatic dance of Victory Song made a fitting backdrop for the debut of these new outfits, especially Changbin's killing parts. In those pants.

"As long as Stray Kids have Stay, they can do anything," Bang Chan said. With its iconic and fun point choreo, Stray Kids enjoyed seeing their Stays dance along.

Stray Kids were just filled with love for their Stays, and as the show neared its end, the boys expressed more of their sentimental sides. Despite the language barrier, Stray Kids worked hard to convey the feelings they have for their fans. "The time that Stray Kids and Stays spend together is more precious than gold -- it's like diamond," said Changbin. He talked about how his favorite English-speaking artists would speak Korean when visiting Korea, and he wanted to provide the same happiness for Stays -- so he practiced English really hard, just for them!

Bang Chan, as the leader of Stray Kids, also led the boys getting emotional: "[This show] is a thousand stories all right here in this one space. Through music, we can gather all these stories and relate to each other - it's like magic."

Together, Stray Kids yelled: "Stay! You make Stray Kids stay! And we will stay with you forever!!"

As Stray Kids neared the end, they performed upbeat playfulness of "Awkward Silence" and "Get Cool." For Get Cool, many Stays anticipated the cute moment in which Changbin calls out to the maknae, Jeongin -- instead, Changbin excitedly held up a finger heart and yelled, "Stays, this is for you!" Stray Kids contrasted that cuteness with the charismatic fast-paced raps and hard rock beats of "YAYAYA."

Stray Kids ended the night with the touching sentiments and support of Grow Up. As they exited the stage, looking upon their Stays with so much love, Stray Kids chanted one last time: "Stray Kids everywhere, all around the world!"

May 14th was only the beginning of Stray Kids' North American leg of their UNVEIL tour, the first of two nights spent on the NJPAC stage, and only a continuation of the story of growing youth that Stray Kids tells to Stays and the world. As Stray Kids continue to carve their own path in this turbulent world and today's music industry, Stays will surely stay by their side for every step of the way, providing support whether it be in the form of tweets full of gratitude, lots of hearts, or dedicated fan projects.

Thank you so much to SubKulture Entertainment and JYP Entertainment for providing KpopStarz with this opportunity - keep supporting SubKulture Entertainment and Stray Kids! 

Tagged :  'Stray Kids'

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