Concert Without the Stress: SMTOWN's Surround Viewing Theater

By Justine Shaffer

Ever thought about how fun it would be to go to a concert without the stress of getting up early, lining up for hours, and traveling home exhausted? The Surround Viewing Theater at SMTOWN Coex Atrium has a solution for K-pop fans! The theater is designed to create the most immersive concert experience for the audience, minus the stress of going to a real concert. 

Since its creation in 2013, the Surround Viewing Theater has been a unique way for K-pop fans to enjoy concert films from various idol groups under SM Entertainment. The theater features a 270 degree, three screen wraparound technique that allows the concert footage to play on three screens simultaneously, or creates the illusion of one very long frame of the stage. For instance, during the NCT 127 1st Tour NEO CITY: SEOUL - The Origin showing, there's some points during the concert where the group members are running across the very large stage and the 270 degree screen technique made it appear as if the members were running from one end of the three screens to the other. While at other points, specifically the member’s talking ments, the three screens played the same frame simultaneously. 

To get the full experience, the best seats in the house are the middle row seats, but subsequently these are the seats that sell out the quickest. Although there are two sections on the left and right of the middle seats, anything past the first three seats closest to the isle may have you uncomfortably turning your head at the screen beside you. 

Another fantastic feature of the Surround Viewing theater is the audio immersion. Usually when you buy a concert DVD, the screaming of the audience is mostly edited out or quieted so the viewer can hear the music and live vocals more clearly. But with the Surround Viewing, the audience screaming is left in the audio used for the film, of course not to the extent where it drowns out the performance, but it's enough to create a concert vibe within the theater. To the point where audience members can feel free to fanchant and scream along as if you were at the concert, and one can hardly decipher which screams are coming from the theater and which screams are coming from the audio of the recording itself. 

SMTOWN’s theater also includes several other theater rooms with unique features. One being a hologram theater for viewing of their musicals such as School of Oz featuring some famous SM idols such as SHINee’s Key and EXO’s Suho. There is also a separate theater for live musicals and comeback showcases or fanmeetings, most recently EXO’s Xuimin had his birthday fanmeeting in the theater at SMTOWN. 

To buy tickets for the Surround Viewing Theater showings, you can buy them either directly from the SMTOWN website or discounted through travel websites such as Trazy. The theater is located on the 5th floor of the SMTOWN Coex Atrium building next to Coex Mall, and be sure to bring your booking details either on your phone or printed out and your ARC or passport for identification. Along with your ticket, every patreon is given a Surround Viewing glowstick of the artist’s official fandom color to act as a lightstick, furthering the immersive concert experience.

All current and upcoming showings can be found on SMTOWN’s website, a notable upcoming showing is the premier of SHINee Taemin’s 2nd Solo Concert “T1001101” and some reocurring shows include EXOPlanet #4 - The Elyxion, Red Velvet 2nd Concert REDMARE, and TVXQ! Concert - CIRCLE - #welcome

What SM artist concert do you want to see in surround viewing? And if your not a fan of any SM artists, which company would you like to see implement this type of theater? 

Written by Justine Shaffer

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