After the rain stopped around 4:00 p.m. I noticed the first handmade signs emblazoned with the letters MOA and held by people sitting on comfy blankets with no intention of moving. By the time Sylvan Esso took Lollapalooza’s Bud Light stage at 4:45 the front rows were already packed with fans of TOMORROW X TOGETHER. There they sat for another four hours, their numbers growing under the glassy gaze of some of Chicago’s most iconic skyscrapers: the Aon Center, Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower, and the architectural odd-couple One Two Pru. It’s a beautiful place to wait.
MOA — the official name for TXT’s fandom stands for Moments of Alwaysness — had reason to believe they might see something magical. A year prior, TXT made history as the first K-pop act to perform at Lollapalooza. I actually caught a bit of that set, crossing the lawn at Perry’s Stage on my way from one end of Grant Park to the other. It wasn’t too crowded, and I was able to move surprisingly close. I appreciated the joy in the music and was blown away by the dancing, but I couldn’t put it in context. I asked my friend Mary, a K-pop expert, if all South Korean bands were that good. “No,” she replied, “They’re not.”
When TXT returned in 2023 as Lollapalooza’s first-ever K-pop headliners, I wasn’t the only one more prepared. Their fandom had exploded in the intervening year, and as night fell in Chicago on August 6th there was more of everything: more people, more signs, more references to the five members Taehyun, Yeonjun, Beomgyu, Hueningkai, and Soobin, more TXT light sticks glowing in the dark.
And much, much more screaming. You could probably hear it across Michigan Avenue long before the concert started, as soon as a countdown timer was projected onto the Bud Light stage. Fans wailed as it ticked down to three minutes, then two minutes, then one, losing their minds with each round number. The last 10 seconds might have registered on the Richter scale.
TXT began with an exuberant performance of the 2021 track, “0X1=LOVESONG (I Know I Love You).” And though the stage was bigger, and the distance between myself and them greater, the dancing looked even more incredible than I remembered. The quintet are all incredible athletes; it’s one thing to see someone jump in a music video, but it’s another thing entirely to watch a normal-seeming person suddenly fly into the air. Usually superhumans are found in movie theaters, not rhythmically levitating in the middle of Grant Park.
TXT stayed with some of their older material with “Dear Sputnik,” before moving on to “Devil by the Window” and “Tinnitus,” a pair of standout tracks from their latest mini-album, The Name Chapter: TEMPTATION. As the show progressed it became clear how much TXT have grown. The stage banter was looser than last year, they looked more comfortable, and more of their personalities came through: Soobin, the earnest leader; Beomgyu, all smiles, who got the loudest cheers from some girls near me; playful Yeonjun; thoughtful Taehyun; and the sweet youngster Hueningkai.