Roughly 25 minutes into their 3-hour set, the members of Tomorrow X Together (TXT) bounded down the aisles of Chicago's Rosemont Theatre, filling the venue with restless excitement. It's not every day that you come face to face with your idols, close enough to see their pores and count the ruby rhinestones on their blush pink jackets. For the thousands of fans in attendance, it was a magical scene.
With security personnel and cameras watching their every move, Soobin, Yeonjun, Beomgyu, Taehyun, and Huening Kai smiled and waved and bounced around the theater, taking the time to look their fans in the eyes — and if you were one of the lucky ones, grab a high five. The moment was so gleeful and unexpectedly intimate you almost wouldn't know that they were dancing and singing along to a song about ghosting amidst the exhilaration. Yet, it feels undeniably poignant that the theme of lost connection would inspire such a thrilling move from TXT on the opening night of the U.S. leg of their Act: Love Sick world tour. It was a moment years in the making.
Three years ago, in a Times Square theater half this size, the then-rookies held their first showcase in the States. They had just debuted under BigHit Entertainment, now HYBE, which in retrospect came with an unfair amount of pressure for a group of mostly teenagers. If they were nervous, and they undoubtedly were, they didn't let it stop them from charming the audience with their congenial energy and playful humor. A showcase is an introduction, a starting point; that evening, TXT welcomed fans, called MOA (an acronym for "Moments of Alwaysness"), into their world of whimsy.
They've grown a lot since then. As performers, they're more fluid and mature — the kind of ease that comes with time. As artists, they're more involved in the creative production of their music. (The setlist for this tour is full of songs partially written and produced by the members, from pre-debut to now.) And as idols, they're more comfortable in their own skin, more free to express themselves. Their concept, too, has naturally come of age, and Act: Love Sick depicts that turbulent journey through a series of dramatic, big-budget vignettes and symbolic stage scenery. A garden blooms into a tranquil forest, illuminating their own "Magic Island'' where they escape together. But feelings of insecurity and fear set their dream ablaze, throwing their world into chaos.
Fans of Tomorrow X Together know the familiar beats of their story, but for those less invested in the lore, the show walks through every step, capturing both the joy and anguish of growing up through a torrent of fan-favorite tracks like "9 and Three Quarters (Run Away)," "Frost," and "Crown," the group's indelible pièce de résistance (which sadly gets cut in half for the sake of time).