[Review] Stray Kids Maniac Tour Encore in Atlanta

From Stray Kids Official Instagram

The highly anticipated return of Stray Kids had Atlanta STAYs excitedly preparing since July 2022. The original show's postponement was a necessary step for three of the eight members to recover from COVID-19, and while the sadness of the fans and the group was palpable, they promised to meet each other again. On March 22 and 23, that promise was kept and as the screen lowered, illuminating the stage, the energy of the fans thrummed contagiously throughout State Farm Arena. 

Stray Kids and Their Live Band

Starting off the show with Oddinary tracks like "Maniac" and "Venom" set up fans for the intensity they could expect for the rest of the show. "Venom" wasn't just a track highlight; this performance involved a massive prop transforming the stage into the mechanical spider character from the "Venom" music video and a remixed introduction for the members to show off their mesmerizing dance skills. Closing out the first three songs, is the highly requested, all-member version of "Red Lights," originally written and performed by Bang Chan and Hyunjin. 

Throughout the tour, the live band accompanying Stray Kids elevated the musicality that STAYs know and love. But they also accompany the members as they showcase their individual songs from SKZ Replay or even covers of other songs, like Lee Know's cover of Sam Fischer's "This City." It is intimate moments like this that allow members to show their own colors that make Stray Kids. 

During this encore leg of the tour, Stray Kids adjust their setlist to include a special stage of Oddinary track, "Freeze," only seen once before at the 37th Golden Disc Awards earlier this year. Other songs brought to the stage include "Case 143" and "Superboard" from their MAXIDENT album and even their anniversary project single, "Mixtape: Time Out" from August 2022. "Time Out" was originally released as a gift to their fans to celebrate the joy of just having fun. This tour is truly a gift to the fans as it even traces back to their pre-debut release, "Hellevator."

"Thank you for waiting for us."

Unit performances mark a little after the halfway point of the concert. The first group up is the vocal unit for "Waiting for Us," consisting of Bang Chan, Lee Know, Seungmin, and I.N., while the rap unit, Changbin, Han, Felix, and Hyunjin, performs "Muddy Water" shortly thereafter. The members take this time to reflect on why they wrote these songs and Bang Chan and Seungmin describe "Waiting for Us" as something that reminds them of the exact feeling they get waiting to meet STAY, and the sentiment is mutual. 

Before the concert comes to an end, Stray Kids created an interactive game time for STAY. The stage screens play "red light green light" in the form of matching the pose of a member, and a dance-off with some of Stray Kids' iconic choreography, before ending in thunderous applause and screams to bring the boys back out on stage for their final songs. 

The Atlanta show dates were bookended by Hyunjin's 23rd birthday (March 20) and Stray Kids' 5th Anniversary (March 25), so after two days of energized and loving performances, the group went LIVE to celebrate their 5th anniversary online with their fans.

The Maniac tour and encore summarizes Stray Kids' discography in a little over three hours and in a way that highlights how they have grown together [and with their fans] in music style, production, and the way their lyricism can truly bring people together from all over the world. 

Stray Kids has more stops on the Maniac Encore Tour with one more night in Texas on March 27 and closing the tour in California at BMO Stadium on March 31 and April 2. 

Stay up-to-date on Stray Kids comebacks and more, here on KpopWise!

Cheyenne Chong

Cheyenne is an Atlanta-based writer & photographer. K-Pop found her in 2020 and she's been hooked ever since. In her spare time, she is working on a novel and studying the Korean language. A multi-stan through-&-through, Cheyenne's favorite groups are Stray Kids, Ateez, Monsta X, basically every HYBE group ever, and the list goes on. Through her writing & photography, she hopes to shine the well-deserved spotlight on the passionate K-Pop artists that bring so much healing and joy to so many.

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