BLACKPINK was in the area.
Currently on its global In Your Area tour, the female K-pop group stopped by Los Angeles, jump-starting the United States leg of shows. The group performed Wednesday at The Forum, singing and dancing to American pop songs as well as all 14 of its original singles. Though BLACKPINK made its debut only in 2016, its concert demonstrated an astute ability to energize audiences and to make K-pop music feel commonplace, even in the United States.
The night began in a flurry of smoke. Illuminated by purple strobe lights, members of BLACKPINK ascended from a platform below the main stage. Without greeting, the group jumped into its song “DDU-DU DDU-DU” with synchronized pyrotechnics. Despite some coarse vocals throughout Jennie Kim’s rap portions, the flashing visuals and flawless notes from the other members easily electrified the diverse crowd.
Throughout the concert, BLACKPINK sequenced its songs in a way that balanced upbeat, high-energy performances with more melodic, calming ones. Immediately after “Forever Young,” a lively song that ended with explosions of confetti, the four members paused to introduce themselves and smoothly segue into slower, more relaxing tracks such as “WHISTLE.” Rather than performing intense choreographies, the members simply walked across the stage and encouraged audience members to sing and wave their hands, pacifying the residual energy in the wake of “DDU-DU DDU-DU.”
Because of BLACKPINK’s small repertoire, individual members also performed American songs, appropriately rooting themselves in a predominantly American audience. Emerging from a cloud of smoke, Park Chae-young, who goes by Rosé, sat on a crystallike piano and sang The Beatles’ “Let It Be” in a white dress. She started the classic song in English but seamlessly transitioned into Korean, alternating between the languages throughout the piece. The rendition, though no match for the iconic original performance, added a delightful, Korean touch.
In contrast to Young, Kim performed “SOLO,” the K-pop single she released under her artist name JENNIE. She immediately set herself apart from the black-clothed backup dancers in a bright-red dress for the performance. Again, Kim’s rap portions felt a bit strained and forceful. Los Angeles is the ninth stop in the world tour, yet she sounds almost as if she wasn’t used to large concert venues.
Videos and instrumental covers by the onstage musicians played between performances, some of which disrupted the mood of the concert. The mashup video of people dancing along to BLACKPINK songs was heartfelt. However, the instrumental performance and a prolonged advertisement of sponsor brand Kia Motors featuring BLACKPINK members detracted from the tonality of the K-pop music. Audience members quickly sat down during the instrumentals and advertisement, impatiently waiting for the next performance from BLACKPINK itself.
After the instrumentals, BLACKPINK sang “Kiss and Make Up,” a song that features Dua Lipa. Although Dua Lipa was not present, BLACKPINK still provided an enjoyable performance, with each member covering parts of the featured artist’s lyrics. Psychedelic light arrangements flashed at the base of platforms that moved the members up and down throughout the song, and boldface yellow-and-green letters beamed the word “KISS” across background screens. The addition of bright and animated visuals did far more than make up for Dua Lipa’s absence.
As the concert approached its end, BLACKPINK made sure to appeal to its fans. After singing the last song on the agenda, the entire venue went dark. No music played and despite the audience’s incessant chanting for BLACKPINK, the members failed to reappear, causing some attendees to leave. However, about 10 minutes later, they ascended from the stage for encore performances, catering to the hardcore fans who chose to stay behind.
They ended the night with the slow, melodic song “STAY.” Without performing a choreography, the members merely walked about the stage, accepting gifts from audience members, taking photos and holding out their microphones for people to sing along. As the song ended, the members waved and descended into the stage below, leaving the impression that K-pop is for everyone and has a home in America.