K-pop boy band Seventeen make Glastonbury history

Boy band behemoth Seventeen have made history at the Glastonbury Festival, by becoming the first K-pop group to play the main Pyramid Stage.

Pouring onto the stage on Friday afternoon, the 13-piece group delivered an hour of precision choreography and sticky pop melodies to an audience of diehard fans and curious onlookers.

"We are just extremely honoured to be here," they said.

"Even though the language, country and culture are all different, we can still connect as one, through music."

Seventeen on the Pyramid Stage
Only Taylor Swift sold more records around the world than Seventeen last year [BBC]
Seventeen on the Pyramid Stage
The band, who typically play Taylor Swift-length three hour shows, delivered a compact and energetic 60-minute set [BBC]

Seventeen were the biggest-selling group in the world last year, shifting more than 10 million albums – but they only scored their first Top 40 single in the UK last month.

Mindful of that, they put together a setlist that focused on their most immediate and accessible songs.

They opened with their big hit, Maestro, which mixes honeyed vocals and fast-paced rapping with choppy piano riffs and unexpected rhythmical switch-ups.

It's one of their most ambitious tracks - but it was the songs with guitar riffs and easily-chanted English lyrics that fared best - among them, the rap-heavy track Lalali, the rocky 2 Minus 1, and the sinagalong anthem Hot.

"Have you heard of Seventeen before," asked Seungkwan at one point.

"So many members, right?" added his bandmate, Hoshi.

The clever staging allowed all 13 members to shine. The group splits into smaller "sub-units" based on their rap, vocal and dancing prowess – with each given a solo spot.

Seungkwan and Hoshi were the most exuberant, riling up the crowd during and between songs, while Woozi’s airy vocals were juxtaposed with Vernon and Joshua’s more soulful tones.

Fans watch Seventeen at Glastonbury
The audience grew continually throughout the band's one-hour set [BBC]

Even so, the Glastonbury audience seemed sceptical at first.

The field in front of the Pyramid Stage cleared out after packed sets by Squeeze and Olivia Dean earlier in the day, and there were large patches of empty space as Seventeen launched into their first track, Maestro.

But over the course of an hour, doubts were dispelled as the band worked hard to get the audience on side – racing onto the wings of the stage, and descending into the crowd to whip up enthusiasm.

It culminated with the brilliantly daft disco-dance anthem Very Nice – which had half a dozen of false endings, the energy building every time the group launched back into another chorus.

The show was a sign of K-pop’s growing chart dominance. Four of the top 10 best-selling acts in the world last year hailed from South Korea, with Seventeen joined by Stray Kids, TomorrowxTomorrow and NewJeans.

In fact, Glastonbury is relatively late to the party. Boy band BTS played two shows at Wembley Stadium in 2019, while girl group Blackpink headlined both Coachella and London’s BST festival last year.

Seeing a K-pop band on the Pyramid Stage was "so unexpected but really, really brilliant", said Australian fan Milia, who came in a custom football T-shirt bearing the name of Seventeen heartthrob Hoshi.

"These acts are touring globally and it’s really amazing to see Glastonbury actually putting them on. You can see by the crowd, there’s a lot of people here – whether they’re fans or they’re just looking for something different. We should see more of it."

The band utilised every inch of the Pyramid Stage [BBC]

"K-Pop coming to the UK is the way to go," agreed Ami, who’d been in the front row with her daughter Molly.

"I’ve been working at Glastonbury for 22 years, we’ve got a Thai food stall, and I’ve never stepped foot near the Pyramid Stage," she added. "This is our first time, and I loved it.

"They’re just so handsome, aren’t they? They’re so fit!"

"Did you notice that one of the members came down and cheered with the audience?" said London-based fan Qi. "That was Seungkwan, who’s our bias.

"It's not like they were nervous or trying to behave themselves. They were so relaxed, they were energetic and they were confident, just like always. That's why we love them."

The band certainly seemed relaxed, despite the significance of the moment – occasionally breaking out of their precision-tooled choreography to interact with fans and throw heart signs into the air.

"Thank you so much for inviting us," said Joshua. "We’re Seventeen. Remember that."

Their fans will never forget.


The band will be followed on stage by PJ Harvey, LCD Soundsystem and Dua Lipa [BBC]
  1. Maestro

  2. Ready To Love

  3. SOS

  4. Rock With You

  5. 2 Minus 1 (Joshua & Vernon)

  6. I Don’t Understand But I Luv U (Performance Unit)

  7. Cheers To Youth

  8. Lalali

  9. Clap

  10. Hot

  11. Headliner

  12. God Of Music

  13. Very Nice

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