On Tuesday, one segment of social media reacted with sustained screams and keening noises when it was announced that the BTS concert tour The Map of the Soul had been further delayed due to… yeah, you know. The impossibly photogenic K-pop group had already cancelled its concerts in Seoul, but this morning's update said that the other shows—including stops in London, Barcelona, and Berlin—will be postponed indefinitely.
“Unfortunately, due to the ongoing government advisories on mass gatherings, BTS Map of The Soul Tour – Europe has been postponed. Our highest priority remains the safety of our artists and fans as well as the global community," Live Nation said. The group's record label, Big Hit Entertainment, also released a statement saying that it would've been "difficult" to go forward with the concerts, due to travel restrictions that would've affected the group members, the crew, and the "thousands of international fans" that scream themselves hoarse at every show.
Everyone's concert calendar is either completely empty or in a state of perpetual postponement, which sucks for the bands, their support staff, and everyone who works at a venue of any size. It's also hard to imagine what shows are going to look like going forward, when a lot of us may still be wary of standing less than six feet away from a room full of strangers, or letting the arms of our lawn chairs touch someone else's in the General Admission cheap seats.
One Los Angeles company is already considering that problem, and it thinks that we might all be wearing a piece of protective gear that it calls the Micrashell. Production Club, a creative studio that specializes in experiential events and has worked on Skrillex's high-tech stage shows, designed the Micrashell with concerts and music festival in mind, and the lightweight-but-airtight wearable PPE has a built-in N95 air filter, a soft helmet and face shield, and a fully integrated internal speaker system. (It's also worn over the top half of the body, leaving our lower extremities free in case we need to use the toilet… or fuck a semi-stranger behind that same row of portajohns.)
Some of the Micrashell's other features include smartphone integration, a POV camera that can send pics to your phone, and a canister-based 'supply system' that allows the wearer to drink or vape without removing the helmet. (It also has something called scratch mode which deploys an internal 'stick' for any inevitable face itches). Miguel Risueño, the company's head of invention, told Fast Company that it wanted to be "realistic" with the suit's capabilities.
“The principle designing the suit was, knowing this is a time-sensitive matter, let’s not pack it with sci-fi features that don’t yet exist and will be roadblocks, but [let’s] use technologies that are available to us,” he said. “If we don’t do that, we’re just navel-gazing instead of actually trying to solve a problem.”
The company is currently "conducting its feasibility analysis" for Micrashell, and discussing its possibilities with potential vendors and collaborators.
It's too late to save this BTS tour, but who knows whether we'll all be safely encased in Micrashells for their shows in the future. There, now, please stop crying.