Winter of 2019 is quickly becoming the biggest and busiest season of K-Pop Melbourne has ever seen. Remarkably, in the last week alone, we have seen two of the biggest names in the business perform at sold-out shows at iconic Olympic Park venues; with other acts due to make their way to Australian shores in the next two months, it is abundantly clear that the Korean Pop phenomenon is beginning to take the country by storm.
While this is significant in its own right, Thursday nights’ show was particularly notable: the four fabulous females that make up the force that is BLACKPINK are the first girl-group from Korea to perform in Australia since 2013. As could be expected, tickets to their Australian concerts sold-out in a mere matter of minutes.
For hours before the show, fans across the city converged upon Rod Laver Arena to see their favourite quartet in action. “Welcome Home, Rosé!” read the banners, clutched in the hands of hundreds of BLINKs (the moniker of the groups’ burgeoning fan-base) who were queuing in lines that were wrapped around the iconic arena; understandably, everyone was eager to see their queens up close, Pyong-Bong’s in-hand.
Of course, it is not every day that you can say that BLACKPINK is actually in your area.
As streams of fans were finding their seats within the sold out venue, the groups’ iconic MV’s played on the two large screens on either side of the stage. In effect, these videos very quickly became a practise round for those who were already in the arena, with fans proudly singing and chanting along to their favourite songs. As if they were their own support act, BLACKPINK hyped-up their audience before stepping foot on the stage; the excitement was palpable to the point of restlessness.
A little after the expected 8pm start, the lights dimmed to a riotous applause; right-on-cue, BLACKPINK stormed the stage with an electrifying start, hitting us all with that ‘DDU-DU DDU-DU’. Their youthful energy continued with fan-favourite ‘Forever Young’.
With their brief introductions out of the way, the girls easily shifted into the mellow melodies of ‘STAY’, a melancholic acoustic track that is reminiscent of 2NE1‘s ‘Lonely’. A credit to their phenomenal musical diversity, the quartet effortlessly transitioned from this into a brightly bold performance of ‘Whistle’. This unbelievably catchy track, of which utilises a common whistling motif throughout the song to signify the rhythm of a beating heart, will be sure to linger in your head long after the concert has finished.
Among the many heart-warming highlights of the night was the inclusion of a fan-mashup, which featured a number of submitted videos from BLINKs across the globe. Here, song and dance-covers were pieced together (with the inclusion of a few baby-BLINK clips for good-measure), highlighting the immense diversity of their sprawling and ever-growing fan-base.
This patchwork video ushered in a series of solo performances from each of the members. Kicking things off was Rosé; sitting on a grand piano, she opened her medley of covers by singing Skylar Grey‘s vocal feature in the song ‘Coming Home’. Not only did the song highlight the true strength of her vocal ability, but its relevance to her homecoming show had the crowd in tears.
This emotional performance was followed by the iconic ‘Swalla’ dance, a masterful, yet unbelievably sexy routine choreographed by none other than Lisa. Rounding out their individual stages, a joyful Jisoo covered Zedd’s party-anthem ‘Clarity’.
Jennie was the only member out of the four who did not perform a cover for her solo performance. Instead, rather aptly, she performed her own single, ‘SOLO’, a track that seamlessly explores her talent through highlighting her singing, rapping, and dancing abilities all-at-once.
A critique often levelled at the group is their rather limited discography; fifteen songs, including seven singles and a collaboration with British singer-songwriter DUA LIPA, their list of tracks is arguably quite small in comparison to other K-Pop acts of a similar tenure. As such, even some fans have expressed their desire to see more from the girls, including a full-album, rather than sequential EP releases.
Yet, having a small discography has its positives, too. Indeed, through the two-hour set they were able to perform all of their released tracks. It may not be too bold to suggest that in such scarcity, each song – whether it be a title track or a B-side release – becomes quintessentially iconic. Stand-out songs included performances of the brassy, militaristic record-breaker ‘KILL THIS LOVE’, the punchy power-anthem ‘Kick It’, and 90s reggae-pop throwback, ‘As If It’s Your Last’.
Of note, during the fabulously frenzied ‘BOOMBAYAH’, their audience, a gorgeous mix of people of all ages and genders, nearly tore the roof off the arena as they screamed the iconic refrain, ‘OPPA!’.
Armed with this relatively small list of songs, BLACKPINK have still positioned themselves as one of the biggest and strongest names in K-Pop. Just this year alone, they released their record-breaking ‘KILL THIS LOVE’, coinciding with historical Coachella performances over both weekends. This global success was duly followed by a sold-out tour across the US, Europe, and Asia, proving that BLACKPINK truly is the revolution.
Undeniably, the show was spectacular; every song was appropriately punctuated by pyrotechnics, smoke machines, and streams of pink confetti. And yet, away from all of this pomp and grandeur, the girls’ were remarkable as they each played to their own unique yet undeniable strengths. This allowed for them to be in their absolute element, appearing comfortable and confident on-stage.
“I’m happy to be… here,” Jisoo crooned, adorable as ever, the audience erupting into pearls of laughter in nothing but pure adoration. As Rosé clung onto a hand-made sign that a fan had given to her, inviting her to a Macca’s run, they bowed to their Melbourne audience for the final time that night.
Photos Courtesy of YG Entertainment