Inside BLACKPINK’s Bewitching Coachella Headlining Debut
The girl group tells MTV News about what it means to make history at the festival.
On Coachella’s biggest stage, Blackpink blessed the festival by doing what they do best: bewitchingly burning brighter than anyone could imagine. Over 100,000 of their dedicated fans — or Blinks — endured the heat and sweaty feet that come with traversing the desert valley to witness the K-pop group’s headlining performance at the festival on April 15. In a two-hour masterclass of technically brilliant choreography and an immaculately executed stage presence, Blackpink came, saw, and made Coachella their area with, arguably, the best top set from the festival’s first weekend.
Taking a walk around the grounds revealed that this year’s festival should’ve been renamed Pinkchella. Crowd-goers were equipped with everything from recreations of the group’s iconic looks to a Korean flag that a fan determinedly waved throughout the day and during their show. During Charli XCX’s set — where she screamed “Blackpink in your fucking area, bitch!” — a helicopter circled above the fest displaying a banner that stated, “All my love is Rosé.” It wasn’t uncommon to see an elementary school-aged child sauntering along the sand with a heart-shaped lightstick at ready or to hear “I only came to Coachella to watch Blackpink,” uttered by many unabashed Blinks.
It’s not lost on the members the momentous impact of being the first-ever K-pop group, as well as the first Asian performers, in the festival’s 24-year history to headline a set on the main stage. In fact, their audience on Saturday was largely made up of fans of color of all ages and backgrounds — and it’s something they take pride in representing.
“It is such an honor to headline at a place where so many different people who love music gather together,” Blackpink tells MTV News via email. “We never expected this kind of opportunity to come to us. It means a lot to us to be invited to stand on such a huge stage to represent our language and culture. We hope that our stage inspires people to dream big and we hope that our music shows that music truly goes beyond language.”
Since their debut nearly seven years ago, the quartet have been prophets of the modern music age. You could point to their multivalent impact on pop culture, unparalleled influence in fashion, or successful world tour catalysts. After all, any Blackpink performance is, by design, a vision that works beyond having to hyper-focus on minute details like how big the stage is or how many people are watching the performance at home. They intend for you to walk away surrendering yourself to the music’s magic.
Frenetic energy filled Saturday’s warm night, flittering between full-fledged panic and calm right before the group’s set. As Blinks waited for the group, they started chanting the luring call of “Blackpink!” from the start of their hypnotic track “Pink Venom,” and went into peak survival mode — fanning each other’s sweltering necks and offering cloth wipes for fogged-up glasses. Nothing is too big of a sacrifice to help others stay ready to see their Pinks.
This unbridled dedication is something the group refuses to take for granted. “When it comes to our music, our performance is something that is inseparable,” Blackpink says. “So when we perform, we feel a sense of accomplishment that truly is incomparable.”
Most powerfully, they do what most artists cannot. In front of elaborate stage setups that wholly embraced their megastar status, Blackpink’s Coachella performance underscored the four members evolving and coming into their own. They reveled in the limitless freedom that results from tossing unfounded speculation — of feuding members and waning passion — to the side. As soon as fireworks, flames, and furious energy accented punched-up tracks like “Kill This Love,” the group underscored its innate ability to eviscerate whatever past criticisms they faced at the start of their tour.
“Coachella, I want to hear you fucking scream!” Jennie roared, eye glitter twinkling as she took in the crowd. “Are you ready?” she posed, which fans matched beat-for-beat and scream-for-scream before she settled back into the elaborate choreography of “How You Like That.” Their Coachella stage completely reinvented Blackpink again with pink panache.
Every single element — like the billowing confetti from Jisoo’s main stage “Flower” performance that seemingly materialized Rosé out of nowhere on a floating stage for her “On the Ground” solo act — underscored how they’ve made understanding seamless synthesis a focal point in their artistic evolution.
Perhaps, most importantly, they simply wanted to have fun onstage. As befits a queen, Rosé underscored why all men should continue to be afraid of her patented “Rosé curse” during the defiant “Tally” — heavy is the immaculately styled head that wears the crown of eliminating “fuck boys” that dare breathe too close.
In another instance, the girls remixed their track “Typa Girl” to resemble a glamorous burlesque performance. They were flanked by a barrage of backup dancers and large feather wings in an homage to Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” performance in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, making sure to emphasize the classic “Both my body and bank account, good figure” line in the name of all misunderstood women.
For a girl group as prolific as Blackpink, the members still embraced moments of insecurity and abjection and turn fragility into a source of power during their set. “I think it’s important to face things head-on rather than hesitate with fear when I’m creating,” Jennie says. “I want to continue being an artist who creates genuinely without any borders.”
Standouts of the night include Jisoo’s opulent performance cementing her status as one of the most highly anticipated solo acts of the group. At mentions of her recently released song “Flower,” fans howled and barked. Even as she’s lifted through the air, she is able to magnificently maintain flawless vocals — without breaking a sweat. “A lot of my fans have been uploading their own dance covers to my song and they’ve been so creative with it! I love the ones where they do the dance with their pets,” Jisoo says. “As you are sending me love, I’m also doing the same in my own way.”
In order to pull off the absolute magnitude of their performances, including her own elaborate pole-dance routine, Lisa found that she had to go out of her comfort zone to confide in the people closest to her. “Everyone goes through their own set of struggles, I believe that everyone can take something valuable from those moments to grow as a person,” Lisa reveals. “Everything I have gone through has become a foundation for who I am and the artist I want to become.”
The beauty of humanity is embracing it even in its most fragile, fallible forms. Often, the way to fully understand this vulnerability is self-care, which Blackpink practices even in the midst of serving Coachella with one the best performances the fest has seen in years. “The busier we get, the more adrenaline we get,” they admit. “But of course, we believe that resting is just as important. As we get busier, we believe that it’s important to find things in our daily lives that give us peace. It could be sleeping, watching movies, or spending time with our friends and family.”
The group often stopped singing and cut the backing track, just to hear their audience bellow their lyrics and fill the enormity of their stage. “I feel like our fans are comforting me,” Rosé explains when she hears them sing along. “I’m at a stage in my life where I’m still trying to find the true me and trying to know myself better. Discovering myself comes with so much anxiety but it’s also a thrilling experience being introduced to new aspects of myself. Seeing our fans accept and love me completely for who I am is something that I never take for granted.”
As the night winds down, Blackpink don’t hesitate to be sources of comfort, showering their crowd with heart-shaped confetti and climbing onto a precarious elevated stage to close out the night with the buoyant “Forever Young,” focused more on trying to interact with as many audience members as possible than strict choreography. They might be a well-oiled machine when they come together, but even their most relaxed performances showcase their magnetism as performers.
After Blackpink alchemize all these moments into a transcendent fantasia, their strategic choice of a final song — without choreography or a pose to perfect — said it all: They were, as they sang, just girls that “wanna have some fun,” with their fans by their side.
“Regardless of all the records and awards, we are who we are and where we are because of the support of our fans,” Blackpink says. “That’s one thing in our career as Blackpink that we’re most proud of.”
cr. MTV News