On the evening of Saturday, May 14th, in the open-air Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif., the ultra-popular K-pop girl group, Twice, performed over 30 songs from their catchy catalog over the course of three hours to a frenzied capacity crowd of 23,500 fans, unitedly known as “Once.” It marked the first night of back-to-back sell-outs at the venue for the JYP Entertainment-created troupe, after selling out the Kia Forum for two consecutive nights only three months prior. Amidst ideal Southern California weather, a full moon, lasers, and fireworks aplenty, the atmosphere on May 14th amounted to a euphoric K-pop paradise that was fun and family-friendly.
The return to Los Angeles was a pleasant surprise for the nine members who graduated from South Korea’s famed K-pop school. They didn’t expect to be back so soon; however, demand in the region and elsewhere in the continent beckoned the need for a 4th World Tour “III” Encore in North America (the “III” represents a culmination of the bi-directional love between Twice and their “Once”). This unflagging mutual admiration between the K-pop icons and their followers was on display for Twice’s first-ever stadium show where it was clear why the group’s music videos have earned billions of YouTube views, and why their momentum has not let up and, in fact, only swelled after recently releasing their 3rd full-length album, Formula of Love: O+T=<3.
Upon debut in 2015 by South Korean singer and impresario, J.Y. Park, it didn’t take long before the females in the group — comprised of Jeongyeon, Sana, Momo, Nayeon, Dahyun, Jihyo, Mina, Chaeyoung, and Tzuyu – each amassed their own individual followings to go along with their popularity as a total sum entity. Fans who favor one member over the others have their “bias,” which many were not shy about expressing at the stadium via paddles that had their favorite’s faces on them. Despite the inclination to gravitate towards a preference, though, the “Once” are a feverishly passionate and well-behaved collective who can unanimously agree on loving their girl group, as evidenced by their tireless waving of their “CandyBong Z” light sticks during each number. Many of these fans also wore themed outfits, like pink velour tracksuits with pink cowboy hats, to celebrate hits like “Hello,” which came later in the set.
The ornate costumes and, not to mention, the massive stage setup left no doubt that Twice is a big deal in the international music world. With one screen in the middle featuring animated videos corresponding to each song, surrounded by a screen on each side that showed live closeups of the nine members, the diehard “Once” indubitably felt a tightknit bond with the performances which sometimes dispersed downstage to the floor by way of a “T” affixed to the mainstage.
The group spiritedly began with a dynamic performance of the “The Feels,” followed by the adored song “Feel Special,” and a few others, before concluding the first of many sections with “Turn It Up.” The next phase began with the vibrant “Shot Clock,” then “Get Loud,” followed by “I Can’t Stop Me,” a heavy fan-involvement version of “Espresso,” “Icon,” and many more before culminating with “Moonlight” – the most apropos song of the evening given the moonlight literally glimmering above, which the group excitedly brought attention to. The remaining sections of the concert galvanized with “What Is Love?,” “Dance the Night Away” (which was encored at the very end as a spectacular show of fireworks decorated the evening sky), “Alcohol-Free,” “Hello,” “1, 3, 2,” “Yes or Yes,” and finally encore numbers decided by a roulette wheel; these ended up being “Sunset,” the loudly fan-approved “TT” and “Touchdown,” which felt like an ode to USC football and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum only being a few steps away.
Twice in some ways feels like a throwback to the bubblegum pop and boy-band-centric music scene of the early 2000s. It goes without saying that Twice’s songs, while formulaic and highlighted by simple lyrics, are intended to yield a joyous and guilt-free experience among the “Once” — which was palpable during the May 14th concert. And while the members sang live a little more in parts during the latter half, beginning with “Cactus” and “Rewind,” among other ditties, most of the vocals were playback – but nobody seemed to have an issue with it.
After all, as hum-worthy as their melodious lyrics are, Twice is renowned just as much for their elite dancing and choreographed sequences, which if the sights around the stadium were any indication, the “Once” have delightfully memorized in full, able to precisely sync their movements with their muses in real time.
Taking center stage, however, are the charming and humble personalities of the group, which take precedence, especially from a relatability standpoint. Much of the concert entailed getting to know the nine stars who played to variously stationed cameras onstage (and didn’t mind looking silly while doing so) and spoke unpretentiously to the audience. In spite of the language barrier (and sometimes needing the assistance of a translator), the members affectionately interacted with the receptive attendees, who never judged if they couldn’t quite understand their idols, cheering vehemently anyway. As a few of the members in Twice became tearful when sharing their gratitude for their “Once,” it was evident that this fan-celebrity connection is a genuine one.
Some may argue that groups like Twice, and K-pop at large, will fizzle out like their American analogs did. Yet, if night one at the Banc of California Stadium is any indication, Twice is not only here to stay, they’re poised to soon reach new milestones with their loyal fanbase at their side – just as quickly as you can say “once, twice, thrice.”
For more information about Twice, visit twice.jype.com