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BTS fans strut in style at the K-pop boy band’s Rose Bowl show

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BTS fans Jessica Chih, clockwise from top left, Walker DeVries, Jacqueline Kurzer and Calvin Susbilla assembled at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to see their favorite band perform.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Worldwide sensation BTS descended on Pasadena for the first of two sold-out concerts at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night, and fans came from as far as Osaka, Japan, to see their heroes. Fresh off a landmark appearance at the Billboard Music Awards, the seven-member Korean boy band opened their Love Yourself: Speak Yourself stadium tour.

The BTS Army (as the followers are known) assembled to enjoy a night of music, dance and inspiration. Several of the fans expressed their appreciation for BTS’ authenticity and the way the group’s message of self love transcends language and culture. The portraits are by Times photographer Kent Nishimura.

RELATED: BTS, the new kings of pop, conquer a deafening, sold-out Rose Bowl »

PASADENA, CALIF. - MAY 04: Lark Detweiler, 19, of Los Angeles poses for a portrait before heading in
Lark Detweiler
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
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Lark Detweiler, 19, of Los Angeles was “really excited” to attend her first BTS concert. She was looking forward to hearing “Dionysus” live as well as old favorites.

PASADENA, CALIF. - MAY 04: Azara Weldon, 18, of Woodland Hills poses for a portrait before heading i
Azara Weldon
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Azara Weldon, 18, of Woodland Hills was being a good friend by attending the show despite not knowing every BTS lyric in the book.

PASADENA, CALIF. - MAY 04: Kiki Hardin, 23, of Surprise, AZ poses for a portrait before heading into
Kiki Hardin
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

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Kiki Hardin, 23, came to the show from Surprise, Ariz., to join her fellow Army members. She was excited for “everything,” especially the chance her favorite song, “Moon Child.”

PASADENA, CALIF. - MAY 04: Calvin Susbilla, of Claremont poses for a portrait before heading into Th
Calvin Susbilla
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Calvin Susbilla of Claremont was attending his first BTS show after missing the chance to snag tickets to a concert last year. “When these came out, click, click,” he says of his readiness to get to Love Yourself: Speak Yourself.

PASADENA, CALIF. - MAY 04: Joleen Le, 22, of San Diego, poses for a portrait before heading into The
Joleen Le
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Joleen Le, 22, of San Diego and her friends were fully prepared for the concert with their Army Bombs, BTS’ signature light sticks. She has been to several BTS shows and says “every experience is different. I love watching them grow and improve. It makes me really proud.”

PASADENA, CALIF. - MAY 04: Tia Neal, 21, of Phoenix, AZ poses for a portrait before heading into The
Tia Neal
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Tia Neal, 21, of Phoenix also made her way to the Rose Bowl. She started listening to the group in 2015 when she was in high school and was looking forward to attending another BTS show. What did she learn from her past experience? “They know how to perform.”

PASADENA, CALIF. - MAY 04: Jacqueline Kurzer, 28, of San Francisco poses for a portrait before headi
Jacqueline Kurzer
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
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Jacqueline Kurzer, 28, of San Francisco flew in from the Bay Area with her sister with their light sticks. They bonded over the authenticity of BTS’ music. “We love that they’re so real. Even though English isn’t their first language, they speak to us.” Besides the emotional excitement, she was also looking forward to seeing Jinmin’s dance moves.

PASADENA, CALIF. - MAY 04: Jocelyn Thompson, 26, of San Francisco, poses for a portrait before headi
Jocelyn Thompson
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Jocelyn Thompson, 26, of San Francisco believes that there is a reason BTS has become the most well-known of all the Korean boy bands. “They are the most unique and talented,” she says, noting that “even if you don’t understand the lyrics, you understand their intention.”

PASADENA, CALIF. - MAY 04: Jessica Chih, 24, of Los Angeles poses for a portrait before heading into
Jessica Chih
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Jessica Chih, 24, of Los Angeles moved here from Taiwan four years ago. The actress, a recent graduate from USC’s School of Dramatic Arts, finds the boys especially relatable as they are her age and are succeeding in the entertainment industry.

PASADENA, CALIF. - MAY 04: Julian Robertson, 5, of Los Angeles poses for a portrait before heading i
Julian Robertson
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Julian Robertson, 5, of Los Angeles was attending Love Yourself: Speak Yourself with his mother, who has raised him on BTS. His favorite song is “Just Dance.”

PASADENA, CALIF. - MAY 04: Walker DeVries, 17, of Lake Arrowhead poses for a portrait before heading
Walker DeVries
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
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Walker DeVries, 17, of Lake Arrowhead was attending his first BTS concert and says he appreciates their choreography but also “how they tackle real issues in society and they try to really reach the population.”

PASADENA, CALIF. - MAY 04: Andrew Hoeft, 22, of Denton, TX poses for a portrait before heading into
Andrew Hoeft
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Andrew Hoeft, 22, of Denton, Texas, showed up to the concert in an all-pink ensemble in tribute to BTS’ recent EP, “Map of the Soul: Persona.” He flew in to show his solidarity with the Army. Despite getting into BTS only a few months ago, he was instantly pulled into the group because “the message of self love perforated throughout the music is so good.”

PASADENA, CALIF. - MAY 04: Yuma Tajiri, 20, of Osaka, JP, poses for a portrait before heading into T
Yuma Tajiri
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Yuma Tajiri, 20, Osaka, Japan. It would be hard to find someone who traveled farther to attend Love Yourself: Speak Yourself at the Rose Bowl. He appreciates all aspects of BTS’ entertainment and says his favorite song is “Fake Love.”

PASADENA, CALIF. - MAY 04: Anna Duong, 18, of Fresno, poses for a portrait before heading into The R
Anna Duong
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Anna Duong, 18, of Fresno made the trek and was excited to relive a BTS concert experience. Going to a previous show “hyped me up and gave me motivation to keep going.”


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