NewsBLACKPINK Lights Up Houston for Two Shows

BLACKPINK Lights Up Houston for Two Shows

Houston was the second U.S. stop on Blackpink’s Born Pink World Tour. It was also the group’s first time performing here. Blinks, the name given to Blackpink fans, filled Toyota Center for Saturday…

The past few days have seen visits from Texas superstars Post Malone and Lizzo; country crooner Chris Stapleton; reggaeton duo Wisin & Yandel; and disco divas Martha Wash, Linda Clifford and Norma Jean Wright.

That’s a lot of star power. But K-pop girl group Blackpink might have outshined them all. Literally.

Houston was the second U.S. stop on their Born Pink World Tour that kicked off in Dallas. It was also the group’s first time performing here. Blinks, the name given to Blackpink fans, filled Toyota Center for Saturday and Sunday shows. Those with floor tickets lined up hours in advance to jockey for positions near the stage. Others came early to snap up merch that included hoodies, bucket hats, backpacks and a $55 light stick.

Light sticks are exactly that, colorful flashlights of sorts that are unique to every K-pop act. Thousands of them lit up Toyota Center, shaped like a hammer with hearts on both ends. The official name for Blackpink’s is Bl-ping-bong.

Rosé, the group’s blonde member and de facto spokesperson, dubbed Sunday night “one of the loudest crowds” the group has experienced.

“The energy is so big that I know tonight is gonna be a crazy night,” she said early in the two-hour set.

It could have been a rehearsed bit of banter. But the crowd ate it up. And they were indeed loud, shouting members’ names between songs, singing along with every lyric and frequently chanting “Blackpink.”

The excitement stayed at that level throughout the show. It was largely due to the way Blackpink attacked every song, performing each one — from “Pretty Savage” to the pop perfection of “Don’t Know What to Do” — as if it was the night’s opener or closer.

They had support from an excellent band and more than a dozen dancers. They introduced the four band members early in the show, and they were later highlighted by name on large LED screens. (Why don’t more people do that?) Before the show started, the message “Pray for Itaewon” flashed across the screens, offering “deepest condolences to the victims, families and those affected” after a crowd surge killed more than 150 people in the Seoul neighborhood during Halloween celebrations.

Opener “How You Like That” set a commanding tone that spread to every song. “Kill This Love” was a blend of hip-hop and pop with the authoritative blare of a marching band. “Tally” was a rare slowdown and showcased the group’s versatility. Recent single “Pink Venom,” the first No. 1 song by a Korean female act, expands nicely on the Blackpink blend of sounds.

There were video interludes every five or so songs, costume changes and cute banter between members. Each member also had a solo moment to shine. Jisoo covered “Liar” by Camila Cabello and, maybe it was the purple, channeled a bit of Tejano superstar Selena. Jennie’s original was reminiscent of Rihanna. Rosé took the stage in a floor-length fur coat to increasing cheers. Her singles “Hard to Love” and “On the Ground” position her as an earthier pop-rock diva, sometimes calling to mind Christina Aguilera. The biggest response came when Lisa performed her hits “Lalisa” and “Money,” songs that play up her steely charisma.

As polished and as pristine as Blackpink’s members are, there’s something endearingly unvarnished that makes them relatable onstage. They stopped late in the set to complement each other’s dancing and singing, and to ask what it’s like performing new music in front of a crowd.

“I feel like we’re on a talk show,” Rosé said. She’s clearly the most comfortable talking to the crowd.

All four members changed into Blackpink sweatshirts for a three-song encore that included “Born Pink” album track “Yeah Yeah Yeah” and early singles “Stay” and “As If It’s Your Last.” It felt like a true encore, too, following closer “Forever Young” and a wait that lasted several minutes.

“We don’t want to leave,” Lisa told the cheering crowd as tears seemed to well in her eyes. The feeling for Blinks was mutual.

cr. Houston Chronicle

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