After a notable and raved about set at last week’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, BLACKPINK kicked off the U.S. leg of their In Your Area world tour with a sold-out show at The Forum in Inglewood on Apr. 17. The performance was not only BLACKPINK’s first concert stateside since debuting in 2016, but it also inaugurated the first arena tour for a K-pop girl group ever in the U.S.
In a venue that had previously seen only male K-pop acts perform, Lisa, Rosé, Jisoo, and Jennie were welcomed by a sea of pink lights from the fans’ hammer bongs (their signature lightsticks). The foursome dove right into last year’s hit “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du,” followed by “Forever Young.” Together with their Blinks (the name of their fandom), the arena boomed with the lyrics and bold declaration “BLACKPINK is the revolution,” which would prove to be the theme for the night.
In a scene where male acts predominantly dominate the overseas market, BLACKPINK have been putting up a fight against boy groups since the start. Their resume is unmatched: they are the highest-charting female K-pop act on both Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200 charts, their latest single “Kill This Love” broke the record for most views in 24 hour on YouTube at the time of release (beating Ariana Grande’s “Thank You, Next”), they became the first girl group in 15 years to top the U.S. iTunes song chart (since Destiny’s Child!), they’re the first female K-pop group to perform at Coachella, and the list goes on and on… BLACKPINK are global superstars, and they did it all with only 13 songs to their name and a career spanning less than three years.
“We know how much of a big deal it is to be performing here,” Rosé said during the group’s introductions, and then asked the crowd to sing despite the song being in Korean. But when it comes to K-pop fans, language is never an obstacle. For the rearranged versions of “Stay” and “Whistle,” swapping the country and sultry R&B in the respective original songs for the other, the group was joined by a live band and the echoes fans’ singing.
YG Entertainment, their company, has produced Hallyu superstars like Big Bang and 2NE1, and even represented PSY during his viral hit “Gangnam Style,” but it is now the era of BLACKPINK. At a time when K-pop is slowly cementing their place on the world stage, the groups reflect the scene’s globalized appeal: Lisa is from Thailand, Rosé grew up in Australia, Jennie in New Zealand, and Jisoo in South Korea.
To give each member their own shine, the four women all had solo stages. First up was Rosé, who is the group’s main vocalist, who covered The Beatles’ “Let It Be,” former 2NE1 member Park Bom’s “You and I,” and Taeyang’s “Only Look At Me,” accompanied by a piano. Next up was Lisa, who did a dance cover of Miso’s “Take Me” and Jason Derulo’s “Swalla,” absolutely killing it with every move. Jisoo then sang a Konglish version of Zedd’s “Clarity” sitting on a mountain on disco balls. To close off this portion of the show, Jennie performed her own solo song released last year called “Solo,” who appropriately sings “I’m shining solo.”
In comparison to other K-pop concerts, YG shows are generally more expensive than the rest and have less, if any, perks for fans. To cut costs, companies often produce simpler shows (i.e., little to no stage production, lighting, or live band) to offer a less expensive ticket, or will offer benefits like a light stick, a photo op, or a “high-touch” in order to justify a higher one. However, fittingly for the hefty ticket price, YG didn’t skimp out on any of the production value, and Blackpink put on a show worthy of the ones they perform in Asia. Everything from the group’s performances to the graphics on the LED screens to the amazing live band was worthy of an A-lister show— which they now are too.
BLACKPINK went through their entire repertoire throughout the concert, including new B-sides like “Kick It” and “Don’t Know What To Do,” as well as their collaboration with Dua Lipa “Kiss and Make Up.” Their new single, “Kill This Love,” “Boombayah” from their debut days, and songs like “Really” where the girls played around and acted cute with each other, drew the most reactions from the audience. At one point, Rosé told the crowd she was impressed with their Korean.
For the encore, the group performed “Ddu-du Ddu-du” and “Stay,” this time the original pop country mid-tempo ballad, as they goofed around on stage, picking up all the stuffed animals the fans would throw onstage and even taking some phones from the crowd to take videos with. At the end of the show, the members reached the top of the stage and hugged each other. As the platform they were standing on began descending, Rosé sang the last lyrics and the perfect ending with a promise to come back soon, “Just stay with me.”
BLACKPINK is, indeed, the revolution, and their show at The Forum was further proof. They’ve officially brought the girl group appeal back, which hadn’t been seen in its full glory since the heyday of the Pussycat Dolls. Now, the ladies will continue on their U.S. tour and go back to Coachella this weekend triumphantly, knowing that they’re already worldwide pop icons.