Concert Review – ATEEZ The Fellowship: Break the Wall in Atlanta, GA

Emily Duong, Contributor

On November 21, I was given the amazing opportunity to witness ATEEZ perform live at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta for their tour The Fellowship : Break the Wall. It was an unforgettable night filled with remarkable songs, powerful performances, and lots of funny antics.

Here is a blurb about ATEEZ from one of my album reviews of theirs, for those who do not know: ATEEZ, pronounced “ay-teez,” is an 8-member Korean boy group under KQ Entertainment, also home to artists EDEN and Maddox. Their name is an acronym for “A TEEnager Z” and “A to Z,” meaning that their music varies with different sounds for all teenagers, and their concepts are generally powerful and have a complex storyline portraying light versus dark and one’s journey forward in the world. The members are Seonghwa, Hongjoong, Yunho, Yeosang, San, Mingi, Wooyoung, and Jongho. They are a self-producing group, where the members partake in making a good portion of their releases. Hongjoong is the group’s producer and songwriter, and Mingi also commonly participates in songwriting. They debuted on October 24, 2018, with the album Treasure EP.1: All to Zero with the title tracks “Pirate King” and “Treasure”. Their fandom name is ATINY, with the fans known as Atinys, which is a combination of Ateez and destiny.

The energy walking into the arena was high, filled with a buzzing excitement as Atinys prepared for the night of a lifetime. Hovering above the stage was a giant moon prop, and the stage was shrouded in a red glow. Many were holding Ateez’s lightsticks, called Lightinys, which link up through Bluetooth to the arena and glow according to the songs played. Many fans were also dressed in Ateez-inspired outfits, deriving from live performance outfits to ones inspired by music videos. A couple of fans were even in these light-up stick man suits (we will get back to them later). As I took my seat, fans began singing along to the music currently playing as we waited for the show to begin.

When the lights finally dimmed, and a short video played on the screens to hype up the crowd, Ateez’s opening act took the stage: KQ Fellaz 2. This group of trainees under Ateez’s company is set to debut in the next few months, and this opportunity to open for their highly-acclaimed seniors allowed them to showcase their talent and hype up their debut. First, they performed “Geek,” a fast and energetic dance track showcasing their want to chase the thrill of their dreams, even through the challenges of their youth. Then, each member introduced themselves. English-speaking member Hunter stated how exciting it was to perform for Atlanta, and group leader Minjae hoped Atinys will look forward to KQ Fellaz 2’s debut. Their last song was the powerful, talent-boasting “Tricky House” before they departed from the stage. The real show was about to begin.

Within Ateez’s most recent music video concepts, the boys are rebelling against the rule of those who restrict their musical talent. The entire concert, in fact, embodied Ateez going against the rules and showing themselves to the world. In the opening video on the screens, the members, cloaked and hidden, individually left their traces of rebellion in their strict, music-less world, and as they took their hoodies off, the video ended. Then entered several cloaked figures from the shadows backstage, slowly moving to center stage. Music began to build up as the newcomers set themselves into position, the band members indistinguishable from the backup dancers. 

Finally, the arena filled with music as the mysterious yet invigorating song “New World” began, urging the listener to prepare for Ateez’s new, powerful energy to be revealed to all. Yunho suddenly appeared, singing, “Hello world, can’t you see?”, revealed in a clever manipulation of light rods by the backup dancers creating a frame around him. One by one, the members revealed themselves in a similar fashion, a grand entrance as they sang, “Open up your eyes / Open up your mind / … / Oh, new world” in their regal, gold-studded black attire. As the track ended, the members stepped up upon the stage’s raised platform as a new, grand instrumental began. More backup dancers came from backstage, this time waving flags with “Ateez” embroidered. The music then transitioned into the exhilarating and alluring “Answer,” one of Ateez’s most iconic songs. San dramatically kneeled to the ground as he raised his hand as if holding a chalice, singing in Korean, “Let’s make a toast like a thunder.” “Answer,” then eased into its energetic, funky counterpart, “Sector 1,” with the stage background morphing between sonic waves and the line “sector 1” in Morse code. The music then faded out, and the group began their first talking break of the night. Each member introduced themselves, with some members pulling antics. Yeosang shushed the crowd before taking off his in-ear, then prompted everyone to scream, while Mingi beckoned the crowd to “say [his] name,” with some fans yelling his name whilst others yelled “Ateez!” Mingi then chuckled before saying, “Let’s f— it up,” sending the crowd into a frenzy. The group then welcomed everyone to their concert and hoped they would enjoy the show. They also cautioned fans to not push, shove, or crowd for everyone to stay safe. Group leader Hongjoong hoped the crowd would “enjoy with safety,” while also wishing everyone to have fun since, after all, this was “only the beginning.” The lights shut off, and Ateez went back into their performance.

The next song was “The Ring,” performed live for the first time. The mighty yet dark melody was opened by Yeosang as he told the crowd not to “be afraid, open your eyes / Follow me, come into the light.” His arms created a ring as if to encompass the audience into the light of Ateez’s performance. Seonghwa also pulled a subtly hot move as he licked his lips before shouting, “Shout louder! Shout out loud! / We got power, make a wave.” After that was the thrilling “HALA HALA (Hearts Awakened, Live Alive),” with the background screen glitching between Ateez and their darker, black hat-brimmed counterparts from the song’s music video. The ending dance break showed off their wild, almost ferocious energy. As the song ended, Ateez went offstage, and a new video began to play on the screens. Paying homage to Ateez’s Zero : Fever album series from 2020-21, the boys narrated their hardships as individuals, yet as a group, they can still overcome what burdens them. Ateez then reemerged in new, velvety purple and white outfits, beginning the next section of the concert.

Dazzling Light,” a sentimental yet upbeat song, began, with their extraordinary vocals showcased amidst their choreography, as they asked, “Tell me, who you, who am I.” Next came “Mist,” another vocal-heavy, much more emotional track, singing that in the uneasy haze of life, Ateez will try to help fans get through. With mic stands deployed for each member, Jongho’s high notes (as usual for the main vocalist) and Wooyoung’s wide vocal range both shined in the chorus as the members stood upon the stage platform. A short break followed as Ateez asked the audience if they liked the last two songs, since they were from around 2019 and thus have not been seen live for a while. Hongjoong then warned the crowd jokingly (or maybe not) that “the next song will be emotional.”

And it was. The heartwarming, encouraging melody of “Sunrise” then played, with its lyrics (and its English translation, surprisingly) scrolling in the background alongside a fitting sunrise. The boys hoped that “No matter what some people say / No matter what some people hate / No matter what the things that make you sick,” Atinys would “just keep it up.” The next song was just as uplifting: “My Way” from their 2018 debut album. Being a more joyous and playful song, the fans watched Ateez beam alongside each other as they danced and encouraged the fans to “don’t be afraid / Dreams are everywhere.” When the track ended, another talking break ensued. San jokingly sulked in the corner because Wooyoung and Yunho did not join San for the small dance they usually do during “My Way.” The three then did an improv dance to make up for it, earning chuckles throughout the arena. Then, chaotically, Ateez began chants among the crowd, which then transitioned into, funnily enough, barking. You read that correctly. The crowd started barking, Ateez started barking, it was hilarious. After that settled, the members shared their amazement with being on stage in front of their fans, once again thanking Atinys for the opportunity. Jongho then began a tangent of whether this concert was a dream or reality. The crowd screamed “Reality!” in response as Wooyoung patted Jongho’s shoulder and gestured to the very real crowd before them. Jongho ended with “Dream or reality, which one?”, before the lights dimmed and Ateez momentarily left the stage.

A short interlude commenced as an hourglass traced itself on the screen in a starry pattern. Music built up dramatically, and Ateez reemerged as it ended. The next two songs were the dreamy “Illusion” and uplifting “Wave,” the summer-fitting twin title tracks from their 2019 album TREASURE EP.3 : One To All. The members freely wandered along the stage, interacted with fans in the pit, played around with each other, and vibed with the audience. Amusingly, Seonghwa forgot to join the one group dance number during the chorus of “Wave,” earning many laughs from his fellow bandmates as Seonghwa hid his face embarrassedly and went to his position. After the song ended, Seonghwa apologized profusely to everyone. 

The members praised the audience’s enthusiasm during their performances. Jongho then introduced a “Lightiny Magic Show” where Jongho instructed the crowd to do certain actions for their lightsticks to change into assorted colors, much to the other members’ amusement. He then pointed out the three specific Atinys that were wearing glowing stickman jumpsuits. The first one was in red and quite close to my section. After that Atiny made a heart for the camera, everyone’s lightstick turned red. Next, the Atiny in green screamed “Fighting!”, making the lightstick blue. Finally, the fan in pink was asked to dance to their favorite Ateez choreography. After some back-and-forth banter between that Atiny and Ateez (mainly Hongjoong), the fan decided to do the iconic “driving move” for Ateez’s 2018 song “Say My Name,” which changed the lightsticks to pink. The fans cheered, and the three Atinys involved waved excitedly to all. Ateez then moved on to the most anticipated part of the show: choosing which members were going to act sexy for the audience. Those two ended up being San and Jongho! First, San decided to go with a simple “slide the finger down the face seductively” (I concernedly yelled “Oh gosh” as he did it) before ending with a quick wink and cheeky grin while his tongue stuck out the side of his mouth (“Ayo, what was that?!”, I yelled). Jongho was next in line. He opted to steal Mingi’s orange-tinted shades for his little act (I said, “Oh no, I’m scared”). Jongho put the glasses on, faced the camera, and whipped them off his face with a Superman-esque flourish. He then bit down on one of the ends flirtatiously before winking (several times) to the audience. Being one of the more conservative members when it comes to sexiness, this stunt sent the arena into screaming pandemonium. The remaining members cringed and laughed alongside the audience, and after some time for everyone to recover, Ateez temporarily departed from the stage again.

The platform on stage began to raise as the flag-waving backup dancers emerged once again. With an adventurous instrumental, the backdrop of the stage morphed into a stormy sea with a pirate ship drifting along it. The platform now had a steering wheel prop upon it, and it was clear that the next songs would pay homage to Ateez’s pirate-themed debut. Ateez returned to the stage, and upon their faux pirate ship, they began “Win,” an epic and powerful song perfectly showcasing Ateez’s strong stage presence. San charismatically inserted the “Say My Name” driving move into his dance as he sang in Korean, “The wind is blowing hard? Ride on that wind and fly,” and Mingi led the chorus with, “We are gonna win.” Next came the electronic-influenced, dynamic “Horizon.” San’s graceful leaps and Yunho’s epic ending lift into the sky paired well with the song’s exhilarating vibe. The crowd then went wild for what is arguably Ateez’s defining song, “Say My Name.” This passionate and unique melody is what Atinys believe define Ateez’s overall sound and message, as well as their wish to pave their path with their music. The members sang that they are “A to the Z” and to watch them shine and “say [their] name.” With a final flourish, Ateez stepped offstage.

A new video played on the screens, similar to the concert’s intro videos. Then, the most anticipated song of the night began to play as Ateez stepped out in new, very eye-catching black outfits that resembled tech-wear, making several people in the crowd scream things along the lines of “Oh my God!”, “Oh no,” and, “It’s finally happening!” For its first live performances, “Cyberpunk” has gained traction for having one of, if not the sexiest choreography in all of Ateez’s discography. Utilizing chairs to spice up the dance to this funky, strong song, San opened the song quite memorably with smooth body rolls (in a crop top with a temporary tattoo on the side of his abdomen, might I add) as he used his chair to stand above his other bandmates. In the chorus, Jongho showed off his impeccable vocal skills as he sang “I wanna feel alive / Don’t wanna stay in the dark,” with Mingi’s following rap ending with “Who am I? I, my, my, mind.” At the end of the song, the group did another talking break, the first question being how the last song was. Of course, everyone screamed to show their enthusiasm for the rather, well, interesting song. This prompted Yunho to ask San to redemonstrate that beginning body roll, earning laughs from Ateez and hollers from Atinys. After this, they transitioned into more grateful words for everyone who showed up to the concert, including thankfulness to their staff for their hard work helping the show go on. The group then began to hint at the next song.

They asked the audience if they (Ateez) were hot, which earned several agreeing, exuberant yells. After much more banter involving hotness, the next track was introduced. “I’m the One (Heat Topping ver.)” is the remix of Ateez’s title track “Fireworks (I’m the One)” for their album ZERO : FEVER Part.2. With more English lyrics and a fiercer beat to its already strong original, the members showcased their charming yet fiery sides as they freestyled along with the song, sang along coolly with the audience, and overall went wild without having a set choreography. While the stage background morphed into a burning tree, Yeosang sang, “Look at the other fools in sight / What is going on right now?” as he swaggered along the stage, while Mingi rapped “I’m giving you my invitation / Eyes on me, pay attention.” As the song ended, Seonghwa mouthed fiercely to the backing track yelling, “This is the remix!” before the members moved to center stage. The next song was the aggressively energetic “Rocky,” with boxing-influenced choreography and lyrics motivating the audience to break all barriers. The group’s two rappers, Hongjoong and Mingi, opened the song with their signature “yes, I’m rocky, feel like I’m rocky / Dance on the floor.” Then, Ateez performed yet another of their iconic songs, “Wonderland.” Hongjoong began the powerfully majestic track with his well-known lines, “All eyes on me now / If you still doubt mine / It’s too pointless / We’re still young and wild / We gonna find new world to be mine.” Ateez’s defining energy was illustrated once again with this song’s robust performance, which was reiterated as they utilized the dance break from the version of “Wonderland” they performed for the Korean survival show Kingdom: “Wonderland (Symphony No.9 “From The Wonderland”).” When the song ended, the arena’s energy was still soaring, so Ateez and Atiny started chanting the chorus of “Wonderland” with each other. San then stated that the previous sequence of songs made him really hot (whether it be temperature-wise or looks-wise, it was unclear), while Hongjoong commented how the Heat-Topping version of “Fireworks” was harder to perform than the original since they have no set choreography, but he still really liked it. The leader then asked if the crowd was tired yet, then asked the members the same. Yeosang boldly stated that he was not tired at all, reason being that he was strong, flexing his biceps to prove his point. 

After chuckles from the other bandmates and screams from Atinys, Hongjoong then sadly announced that the next song was going to be the last. However, it was obvious that he was lying. He denied that fact, but after San suggested that Hongjoong buy ice cream for the entire arena if his words proved false, Hongjoong finally admitted to the fib. Ateez then decided to have fun with the crowd. They split the audience in half: Team AT on their right (which was my side) and Team LANTA on their left. The two sides competed for loudest screams. When both sides revealed to be equally deafening, the competition transitioned into the best barkers (yes, you read that right), with Ateez comically joining in. After everyone calmed down from that antic, Hongjoong riled up the crowd once again, this time to chant to the chorus of the next track. That song was “Guerrilla,” the darkly wild and punky title track of their newest album THE WORLD EP.1 : MOVEMENT, released in July of this year. As they hollered about their wish to “break the wall” of their creative oppression, Atinys yelled alongside them in a mix of Korean and English, “Dance, break that wall, with our feel / Will change the world / we are the guerrillas.” The arena truly broke the wall with their screams and explosive energy. The song ended powerfully, then Ateez departed from the stage momentarily.

As fans waited for the last section of the concert, Atinys began to do light waves with their Lightinys, making the arena glow vibrantly. The staff even aided this entertainment, changing the colors of the lightsticks in waves to make the wait feel less long. Another video began playing on the screens, this one much more serene with Ateez bonding with each other, surrounded by nature and donning white clothing. Finally, in their last, much more comfy outfit change, Ateez revealed themselves upon the stage platform as their next track, “Turbulence,” began. The melancholy yet comforting melody was quite a contrast to the last song as Seonghwa asked in Korean, “At the end of this road, where should we be? / What should we become, in what form?” and Jongho added in Korean, “I’m already overwhelmed / To be myself barely / Is anyone listening / Can someone just embrace me?” The members then transitioned into another talking break. Ateez was very surprised by all the cheering this late into the show. They got very emotional about all the love they were receiving, and promised to help the fans move forward and be happy. The group also gestured to themselves, promising to help each other forward as well. With that, they moved into the next song, the cheery and uplifting “Celebrate,” as they deployed flower-adorned mic stands. Hongjoong began the song with his iconic “I can feel this love / That greatest love / You can feel this too / We will make this love together,” except he changed “that greatest love” to the more touching line “Atiny’s love.” Later on, in Yeosang’s line “You’re the one, only one / From 7 billion, the only one,” he changed “7 billion” in Korean to “8 billion” to fit the fact that the world population is now at eight billion. Ateez smiled with the audience as they celebrated for the fans being their unique selves no matter what. The next song was a remix of Ateez’s predebut track “From” (at the time, they were known as KQ Fellaz), its motivational message holding sentimental value for all. The EDM elements over the joyous melody made the song all the more emotional as the members sang in Korean, “If your head ever lowers and you fall down / I’ll be the reason you get back up quickly.” The background scrolled to each performing member, almost resembling polaroid pictures, and at the end, the members lined up on stage to take a picture. Hilariously, as Hongjoong yelled, “Thank you so much for today!”, the group chose to each balance crane-style on one leg, making for a very entertaining photo.

The members took some time to make fun of the new photo whilst asking the crowd how it felt to hear “From” performed again after so long. The crowd cheered in appreciation, then everyone prepared for the big arena selfie. Ateez prompted the audience to scream “Ateez,” “Atiny,” then “Atlanta” as they took three memorable photos of the night. The members then moved to their ending talks. They were sad that the show must end, and asked Atinys once again how the show was, prompting the fans to scream, inferring a big “yes.” They were happy to be in Atlanta and loved the day’s energy and once again thanked the fans for coming to the show, as well as for making such a big-scale tour possible. They were thankful for Atiny giving them the chance to perform in a new, big arena with two show dates, which was different from their last tour (The Fellowship : Beginning of the End) earlier in the year. They always loved to come to perform because they loved Atiny. Wooyoung asked the audience to wait for them to come back on whatever their next tour is, urged the fans to get home safe, and hoped to see some fans again tomorrow for their second show date. Then he started some shenanigans. His final concert outfit included a bucket hat that just barely blocked his eyes from general view. Feeling swaggy, he decided to do some grooving and even did a moonwalk, much to everyone’s amusement. His bandmates then started messing with Wooyoung’s bucket hat, trying to help him see. Embarrassed, Wooyoung tried to cover his face, but failed. As one member folded the front brim up, San commented that Wooyoung looked like Jack Sparrow.

Back to the ending talks, Ateez felt thankful and honored to show an amazing performance to their Atlanta fans and loved everyone’s energy. Seonghwa was grateful that Atinys kept their promise to love and enjoy themselves at the show. This was presumably made during the Atlanta concert at the beginning of the year. Seonghwa then wanted to make a new promise: to have Atinys use this new concert memory to feel better whenever they are down. Yunho then stated that he always smiles on stage because of the fans, and thanked them for making him happy. Hongjoong ended this final talk with thanks to the venue staff, the group’s personal staff, and, of course, Atiny. The final song of the night was the cool and mighty “The Real (Heung Ver).” The original version of this song was created for the Kingdom survival show to flaunt their skills and coolness, but also their success-driven yet humble attitude towards music. This iconic version combined the energetic song with Korean traditional instrumentals as Ateez screamed “ATEEZ Present!” and the members said in Korean, “This is what we call style” and “look at us, look at our dance.” At the ending dance break, Jongho and Mingi came to the middle. While Jongho did a fun little shimmy, Mingi b-boyed, holding himself up with one arm in a unique sideways pose to end the dance break. The song ended, and Ateez said their final thank-yous and goodbyes to the audience. They thanked their backup dance crew and choreographers, BBTRIPPIN, as the dance crew came into the spotlight, before waving to Atinys one final time, then descending backstage. The show was officially over. Thus ended an amazing night of unforgettable performances, amazing music, and memorable shenanigans. This concert is one I will never forget.