The lights dim and the crowd screams as you hear the bass guitar and drums start playing. Seconds later, 4 girls appear on the stage and yell out “BLACKPINK!”, starting their record breaking song “DDU-DU DDU-DU.”
Fueled with jaw dropping choreography, a catchy chorus, soothing vocals and powerful rap flow, it was the perfect concert opener.
On April 17, 2019, BLACKPINK, a South Korean girl-group signed under YG Entertainment, had their first stop on their first U.S. Tour. The concert was sold out and held at The Forum arena in Inglewood, California in front of a 17,500-person crowd.
This concert was just days after their head-turning Coachella performance. BLACKPINK was the first female k-pop group to ever play at Coachella, and according to Billboard, they were the act that drew the most buzz.
BLACKPINK is composed of 4 members, Jisoo, 24, Jennie, 23, Rosé, 22, and Lisa, 22. All four of the members are multilingual and multi-talented and trained for 4-6 years to debut on August 8, 2016. Three of the members are fluent in English, which gives them a more Western appeal and responsiveness.
Though they are a K-pop group, each member has a different background. In my opinion, that sets them apart from other K-pop groups, and with the U.S. having no current girl groups, this was the perfect time for BLACKPINK to take over.
After releasing their “Square Up” EP in June of 2018, they started gaining traction. The EP charted at number 40 on the Billboard 200, while their lead single “DDU-DU DDU-DU” charted at 55 on the Billboard 100, the highest ever for a K-pop girl group.
Since then, they have collaborated with Dua Lipa and signed with Interscope Records (a subsidiary of Universal Music Group).
They made their official US Debut in February on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Good Morning America, almost doubling the size of their fandom.
BLACKPINK recently released a new EP in April, entitled “Kill This Love”. The lead single on “Kill This Love” beat their previous record on the Billboard charts, as well as breaking Ariana Grande’s record for the most youtube views in 24 hours.
I have been to quite a few concerts, but they are nothing compared to going to a K-pop concert. The energy for the concert was on a different level from start to finish.
The official concert started at 8 p.m., but the craziness started more than 12 hours prior.
I had a VIP package that required being there super early. When I arrived at the venue at 7am, there was already a line of 100 plus people, some who had been there since 1 a.m. the previous day.
The staff handed out numbered wristbands for general admission that would be used for entry to the concert. While fans waited, BLACKPINK staff members passed out donuts in the colors of black and pink. Fans then received their wristbands for sound check and send-off, and also had time to purchase merchandise.
Soundcheck was an intimate experience. All four girls hyped and thanked the crowd, showing how happy they were for the night ahead. They rehearsed three of the songs they would play later that night.
Once Soundcheck ended, fans were escorted back outside the venue and told to line up again based on wristband number. During that break period, I was able to attend the BLACKPINK Kia Soul event.
There was an area set up with Kia Soul vehicles, one of which was black and pink and signed by the members. The area also had karaoke, photo zones with BLACKPINK cutouts and a dance competition to win signed albums, posters and floor tickets.
The time passed quickly with the liveliness from all the fans.
A thing to note with K-pop is that fans can bring lightsticks, which serve as a cheering aide during the concert.
In BLACKPINK’s case, it is a black and pink, hammer-shaped light stick that lights up based on the beat of their music, much like a bluetooth device.
By 7:30 p.m., almost all seats were filled. The monitors started playing BLACKPINK music videos and the screams and singing from the fans was almost deafening.
Around 8 p.m., the girls came out starting with two songs before introducing themselves and talking to the crowd.
They performed 20 songs total, including a solo performance from each member. The crowd was into the concert from start to finish, just as much as the BLACKPINK members.
My personal favorite was for a song called “Kick It” from their new EP. The members rehearsed it during soundcheck, and brought even more enthusiasm to it during the real concert. The song had strong vocals from all members, as well as a killer English rap from Lisa.
After the concert, VIP members experienced send off, which was a “meet-and-greet” type experience. Fans got to talk to the members, taking videos/pictures and give gifts. In my case, I brought a box of King Cake Mix as well as letters for each of the members, which they gladly took.
Many celebrities such as DJ Snake, Lany, Benny Blanco, Pharrell and Harry Styles were in attendance. After the concert, I talked to a Blink, (BLACKPINK’s fandom name, combining the words Black and Pink) Silva Dishoyan, who also had VIP.
“I have no words, literally the best concert of my life...like, I’m not even kidding,” Dishoyan said.
She also suggested getting floor seats if possible.
“Try to get general admission is all I’m gonna say,” Dishoyan said.
With this being BLACKPINK’s first stop of their U.S. tour it set a precedent. No other female k-pop group has had an arena tour in the US, much less a sold out one. It is even more impressive that they did that in less than 3 years, with barely any US promotion.
The members were constantly thanking the fans for coming and singing along, almost as if they couldn’t believe the crowd reaction. The concert was on a pedigree that I think will be hard to top. If you ever have the chance to see BLACKPINK, I highly recommend it.