Blackpink performed at Coachella 2020. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
UC Berkeley

Review: Blackpink easily delivers charming, fan engaging performances

Watching a Blackpink performance is a lesson in how K-pop has become such a formidable force in popular culture. When Blackpink made their debut, they were slated as the K-pop group meant for U.S. domination. Comprising of members Jisoo, Jennie, Lisa, and Rosé, the four performers were consistently proven to be talented in a plethora of disciplines. While performing at The Forum on their world tour, the group was able to showcase their strengths in connecting with their audience.

It’s easy to be swept up in the sheer energy of any K-pop show. Concerts are often seen as a private space where fans are allowed a moment of reprieve, away from misconceptions and ridicule mainstream media often pedals.

There are traditions fans abide by, like passing out free laminated selfies of K-pop group members, or dressing up in iterations of the stage outfits worn by the Korean singers. The energy was palpable even before the show when their music videos were played on a continuous loop. Even without the singers’ presence, their fans, lovingly given the name “Blinks,” were still dancing along to the group’s choreography, and chanting the songs at an almost deafening volume. 

It’s hard not to like the members of the group. With the majority of the members fluent in English, Blackpink is able to bridge a language barrier easily. They are destined for success in not only the K-pop industry but also the mainstream music industry as well.

As soon as the girls stepped out on stage, hearing became an afterthought. In between the unrestrained vociferations, the girls delivered high energy performances while following along with their easily recognizable choreographies. 

They often release songs to examine the duality of the Blackpink identity. Their “Black” songs are often explosively charismatic, like their latest release “Ddu-Du-Ddu-Du.” While their “Pink” songs are often relaxed without a heavy emphasis on EDM, instead performed with simple choreography and bright colored outfits.

While the group does play up the interesting dichotomy in their music, their limited selection of music made the concert’s flow disjointed. 

During recently released songs like “DDU-DU DDU-DU,” the girls were engulfed in heavy pyrotechnics. Expensive and intricate outfits highlighted by their intense focus on executing their choreography. With a rock remix of their ballad “Stay,” they were ensconced in an ocean of their infamous light sticks. Fans swayed to the sweet lilts of their voices, while holding up the hammer-like contraption. Viewers were the most excited during older songs like “Whistle” or “As If It’s Your Last,” songs that largely defined the group’s popularity. While fans were enthusiastically enacting the dances, Blackpink preferred to walk around the stage and interact with fans seated nearby during their older works.

Embedded between their own original songs, each member had a chance to carry out a solo stage highlighting their strengths. Rosé’s delicate voice covered The Beatles’ “Let it Be,” in an elegant dress with a smoke show circling around her. Lisa, known for being the most skilled dancer in the group, expertly bounced along to Jason Derulo’s “Swalla” in her cover that has gone viral on Twitter. Although they were jubilantly following along with the performances, the audience was slightly miffed at the lack of spontaneity in Blackpink’s performances. Their shows run like a well oiled machine, almost at a fault.  

There are awkward moments that appear to exist in order to take up time. The band accompanying Blackpink played an extensive remix that dragged along at a startlingly dull pace. The group’s Kia advertisement confused concertgoers, murmuring among themselves about the odd placement and too long length of the promotion. 

At times, members looked nervous despite performing their songs repeatedly over the course of their career. Without an extensive set list, it was surprising to see members lose their focus, or misstep during choreographies. As a result of their lackluster amount of songs, their encore consisted of them performing tracks “DDU-DU DDU-DU” and “Stay” once more, much to the viewers’ perplexed fascination. 

Even with slight bewildering moments during their shows, the girls looked like they were embracing their international shows with a nonchalant, enjoyable approach. Members often step away from a practiced formation to interact with the audience or the band performing with them.

That was enough for fans, who root for the group’s happiness despite the mishaps and mistakes. As the night winded down, Blackpink was showered with plush toys thrown on the stage, one accidentally smacking member Jisoo. The crowd was there to have fun, even knowing the diminutive song list the girls had to offer. In many ways, K-pop fans aren’t explicitly concentrated on the complex details of a show. They find pride in bringing a smile on their idols’ faces. Everyone is rather focused on finding joy in simple moments, unperturbed by what might exist outside the show.