If you are even slightly in tune with the world of K-pop, the above headline might be laughable. After all, the nine-member group formed in 2015 and has already ascended to arena levels in the States before playing their first-ever outdoor American stadium over the weekend. But, the reality is that outside of BTS and Blackpink, artists with massive followings in the K-pop world are still treated as fringe entertainment by many Americans. Even as Twice begins to release music in English, even as Bad Bunny breaks streaming records, Wizkid and Burna Boy headline major American venues and festivals, and artists like 2NE1 and Anitta take Coachella by storm, international musicians are still not getting the flowers they deserve in America. Things are getting better, but not fast enough.
But none of this really mattered inside Banc Of California Stadium on Saturday night, as fans who already saw the group sell around 30,000 tickets at two Forum nights in February now witnessed close to 50,000 seats over this past weekend. These are bonkers numbers, and are just the latest example of why everyone should be paying more attention to music from around the world. The why and how of it all quickly became apparent to anyone with eyes and ears once the women launched into the night’s opening song, their first English-language single, “The Feels.”
Like many of Twice’s latest offerings, Dua Lipa’s disco-influenced pop palette is a solid reference point, but it never feels like Twice is simply mining territory that’s already proved fertile for other artists. It just means that their music combines the best of nostalgic sounds with contemporary sensibilities, with all nine members getting their own moments to shine throughout the staggering 32-song, 3-hour-plus set. A special mention needs to be made for Jeongyeon, whose multiple mental health hiatuses have found her fans pulling even harder for her, with massive roars erupting every time she appeared onscreen.
But as a brand new member of Once — the fond moniker for Twice’s fanbase — I couldn’t help but be impressed by the sheer volume of immediate and expertly crafted pop bops that the group has. “Icon” is an instant favorite, with its confident attitude enough to make any listener feel ten feet tall. “Moonlight” also stood out on this night, especially given that the musicians hadn’t performed under the night sky before in America. After the song’s performance, the members looked up at the moon in the sky and noted how it felt particularly meaningful. Soon, the show’s videographers put the moon on the big screen, so that everyone in the stadium could see what Twice did.
The group’s older songs still popped, too, particularly “What Is Love,” which served as a crucial moment to reinflate the audience that had grown a little sedate after a strong run of slower songs. And given the magnitude of the moment, Twice was sure to honor their eras, noting their hope that Once would follow them into the uncertain future of their next era, wherever it would take them. As more artists are showing that there is no limit to the impact that international acts can make in the US, Twice have what it takes to make it on the biggest stages imaginable. That next era seems likely to see their incredible growth — both commercially and artistically — continue.