When it comes to K-pop in 2019, Twice is without a doubt one of the largest girl groups ruling over the industry. In the U.S., though, they fight an uphill battle: not only are they a girl group, they also tend to get associated with terms like “bubblegum pop” or, the favorite of many a media critic, “traditional K-pop idol”. The harshest ones use terms like “vapid pop” or “animatronic”.
Despite all this, Twice has persisted. The American ONCE fan base were awarded with not one but three U.S. tour dates and one Mexican date, with the smallest venue (Chicago) boasting an amazing 7,000+ seats – not bad for their first major Western tour.
#TWICELIGHTSinNEWARK moments with @JYPETWICE pic.twitter.com/njd9YOx5nh
— Jeff Benjamin (@Jeff__Benjamin) July 22, 2019
From the get go Twice showed that they were more than just the stereotype of your quiet, reserved bubblegum girl group. From a rock remix of Stuck in my Head to an instrument filled rendition of Dance the Night Away, they blew the top off the concert venue through a combination of sharp dancing, belting vocals and stage presence. Even the video taped segments were a complete blast, my particular favorite being the encore segment where fans were encouraged to show their love for Twice in the ways that K-pop fans are most known for: their slogans, their fan chants, their dance covers. Not a single second was wasted, the energy levels were palpable all through the night.
The most emotion filled moment on the stage, however, was the performance of After Moon. Since the announcement on July 11th about Mina’s hiatus, global ONCE banded together to turn the audience turquoise as a tribute, eliciting quite a few tears both on and off stage. JYP’s frank admission of Mina’s personal struggles as well as the girls admitting during MCs their fears and anxieties performing for the first time in the U.S. was the most noticeable shift in changing attitudes towards mental illness in an industry known for being completely reticent to admit any sort of shortcoming.
Many People beside you.
Illuminated with your color.
No more cry.
Always be with you.@PruCenter#TWICE #트와이스 #TWICELIGHTS #TWICELIGHTSinNEWARK #TWICEpru #PruCenter pic.twitter.com/awO6Ym76rl
— TWICE (@JYPETWICE) July 22, 2019
Old habits, however, die hard. The toll of having to travel from one corner of the planet to the next all the while filming their various shows while on tour were clearly taking a toll, and both dance moves and notes missed their mark from time to time. Clearly the fact that they had to take a 7AM flight from Mexico to New York and endure a multi-hour customs interrogation in addition to their various stops dulled what used to be sharp movements, with several moments where fans could see a slip or two. (I honestly wish that flight itinerary was an exaggeration) It is a testament to their professionalism and their charisma that none of these dented their performances in the slightest, though I hope that in the future more thought and consideration is put into ensuring that their schedules are not too packed.
So would I go see Twice again? Hell yeah. If this is what Twice is like when they are jet lagged and coming off of 10 continuous days of 10+ hour flights, I can only imagine what they would be like at their top of their form. Here is to hoping for the return of the OT9.