MONSTA X’s No Limit Tour: Chicago Day 2 Review
MONSTA X’s second night in Chicago proved their limitless potential, both as a group and as individual artists.
To say that MONSTA X’s concert was energetic would be an understatement. From the opening notes to the final goodbyes, the group did the opposite of phoning it in, infusing each moment with energy and life. MONSTA X concerts have always felt like they end in the blink of an eye, but this show seemed even more fast-paced than usual. The two-and-a-half-hour show flew by, thanks to their captivating performances, the show’s smart format, and everyone’s boundless energy. What moved this show out of the “Great” category into the “Exceptional” one: its solo stages. The members raised their own high bar for putting on an unpredictable, varied, and exhilarating show that celebrated both their group and their originality as soloists.
The Solo Stages
One by one, each member of MONSTA X performed one or two songs that represented their distinct solo sound. First up was HYUNGWON, who delivered the most mesmerizing performance of the night. Singing a solo version of “Wildfire,” he danced with fluidity, grace, and an uncharacteristic (but very much welcome!) degree of confidence. He glided across the stage and posed so naturally that it was as if he was born for solos like this! The second solo stage was I.M’s, and he similarly shed his MONSTA X identity. His solo musical persona fit him like a glove, as he performed the R&B “God Damn” and “Happy to Die” with an intriguing mix of passion and dispassion. His “I don’t care” attitude was mixed with “I care very much” song lyrics to boost the distinctly-I.M style of the performances. Third was MINHYUK, who performed his amusing trot song, “Ongshimi,” in the music video’s attire, an iconic look replicated by multiple concertgoers. He added a burst of cute, bright levity between more serious solo performances. The fourth solo stage was KIHYUN’s, who belted out “RAIN” and reminded fans why he is known for his outstanding vocals. Lastly, JOOHONEY emerged to perform “SMOKY” and an unreleased song, “Voices.” After slowly removing his blindfold during “SMOKY,” a song about overcoming feelings of directionlessness and anxiety, the words “BELIEVE IN YOURSELF” appeared on the screen and signaled his transition into singing “Voices.” “Voices” is when JOOHONEY shed his less-secure former self and turned into “BEASTMODE JOOHONEY,” singing and rapping with an angsty delivery and unmatched intensity. For long-time MONBEBE (fans of MONSTA X), seeing each member truly come into their own as artists on this tour was a touching sight to behold.
The Pacing and Setlist
Ironically, the show seemed to be structured with the intent of making it seem the opposite of formulaic. The hallmarks of a performance in which the artists are clearly just going through the motions were not present. Instead of separating the show into clear blocks style-wise, the group alternated between their more emotional, slower songs and slickly-choreographed, fast-paced performances. Instead of saving confetti blasts for the grand finale, they were spread out throughout the night. Instead of appearing scripted, the members made ample time for cute banter and playful teasing among themselves (at one point, KIHYUN appeared pressured into taking on rap parts of their songs and literally ended up on the floor laughing afterwards!). They also made their true mental presence during the show felt by interacting with the audience, constantly waving to them, making funny faces at them, and even taking a picture of SHOWNU (the sixth member, who could not be there due to his current military enlistment) from someone to hold up during the encore. They made time to shout out the concertgoers who dressed up in MINHYUK’s iconic “Ongshimi” music video outfit, to crowdsource ideas for impromptu acapella singing, and to reiterate again and again their love and appreciation for MONBEBE. MONSTA X were physically and mentally present for every second of the night, making their comments about appreciating every second spent with MONBEBE ring true.
There was never a dull moment during this show; the escapism of watching was absolute. One had just a moment to appreciate the group’s fancy footwork before one’s attention pivoted to long periods of breathless rapping and impressive singing. Although MONSTA X treated the show like there was not a moment to waste, it did not feel too rushed either. The setlist was perfectly ordered to allow for fiery songs to be followed by slowed-down ones and vice versa, to allow for the audience to let each member’s solo musical identity have time to solidify in their minds, and to give fans the chance to sing along to hits old and new.
There are many other details about the show worth admiring, including the wardrobe (bedazzled jackets, flowy, white shirts, graphic tees with bright accessories, I.M’s sheer shirt with leather pants, velvet jackets…) and the off-the-cuff comments (a particular highlight of the night for this author: the SEVENTEEN reference! The members said the Korean word for “CLAP” and then joked about how “CLAP” was “not even [their] song!”). The bottom line: details big and small culminated in an unforgettable show about which it is worth raving. MONSTA X continue to beat their own game, and watching their growth from tour to tour will surely remain exciting.
Overall, MONSTA X’s latest Chicago concert deserves an “A” grade. The only reason it does not get an “A+” grade is because of the frustrating inability to hear the translator, due at first to the volume not being turned up enough and then due to the audience drowning out the messages with their screams. However, it is perfectly understandable why the crowd could not hold back their excitement for even one moment! The No Limit Tour truly felt like a milestone for MONBEBE who have followed MONSTA X’s journey for years. They have continued to hone their craft over the years and proved it with this show.
MONSTA X gave their second Chicago show on the No Limit Tour their all. The lengthy show felt anything but, as they delivered dazzling, synchronized, upbeat performances between slower, powerful songs. Spontaneous bursts of smoke and confetti, lightning-fast set changes, and a setlist that proved their vast stylistic range all made the show an unpredictable, wonderful whirlwind of ferocity and good vibes. They delivered a memorable show to say the least, and its solo stages in particular were such a joy to see, because they emphasized how far they have come.