K-Pop Superstars Blackpink Touch Down on the East Coast With "Dream Come True" Concert

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Jennie, Rosé, Lisa and Jisoo of Blackpink

Continuing their U.S. domination, the Seoul-based girl group served up impressive vocals, dancing — and even a surprise cameo from Dua Lipa — during their first of two sold-old shows at New Jersey's Prudential Center.

"Tonight has been really, really special for us," Blackpink's Rosé said during the South Korean girl group's Wednesday show at Newark, New Jersey's Prudential Center. Taking a minute to catch her breath — and revel in her view of the nearly 20,000 people who came out to see her perform alongside bandmates Jennie, Lisa and Jisoo — she noted that the foursome's first sold-out concert on the East Coast felt like "a dream come true."

Indeed, the gathering of Blackpink's tirelessly devoted fan base — better known as "Blinks" — was surreal. Rivaling the intensity of BTS' ever-loyal ARMY, countless Blinks camped out the night before the show in hopes of securing a prime spot in the general admission pit. And, hours before the ladies even hit the stage, a unique variety of tweens, parents and adult K-pop enthusiasts — or possibly anyone who can’t say no to a two-hour spectacle full of nonstop dancing, powerhouse vocals, lasers and confetti — lingered outside the venue loading up on merch, or taking part in the mini flash mobs breathlessly re-creating Blackpink's signature choreography.

That same palpable energy transferred inside, manifesting as ear-shattering screams that filled the arena the second the lights went down — signaling Blackpink's long-awaited arrival to the Garden State. Moments later they emerged from risers beneath the stage, immediately launching into their international hit "Ddu-Du Ddu-Du," the song with which they made history last year as the highest-charting female K-pop act on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 55. (They have since broken their own record with their 2019 comeback single, "Kill This Love," which debuted in April at No. 41.)

Dressed in coordinated white ensembles — the vision of Korean fashion guru Choi Kyoung Won, who styled Blackpink's multiple costume changes — the entertainers flawlessly executed moves made famous in their music video for "Ddu-Du Ddu-Du." Not even the stage's extravagant light display or frequent bursts of fireworks could pull the group's focus from their exceptionally polished routine. But, following their second number — a dynamic delivery of their reggae-tinged "Forever Young" — Rosé, Jennie, Lisa and Jisoo slipped out of their femme fatale performance personas to address the crowd.

"I'm so out of breath right now, but nice to meet you guys!" Jennie said with a smile, while Lisa charmed fans with this line: "Good morning — oh, sorry — good evening, everyone. I'm Lisa," she said, causing emphatic laughter throughout the Prudential Center.

It's understandable that Blackpink's sense of time might be a bit off these days. In the midst of playing their final shows for the Asian leg of their In Your Area world tour, the quartet squeezed in a brief whirlwind trip to the U.S., performing in New York on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and Good Morning America at the end of February. Less than two months later, they made yet another voyage from Seoul to America; this time to California for more interviews and another late-night appearance with James Corden. They were also on this side of the Pacific for their highly anticipated Coachella sets — considered among the industry to be Blackpink's first significant step in conquering the U.S. after signing with Interscope Records and the larger Universal Music Group for representation outside of Asia in 2018. The group's abridged festival concerts served as a warmup for their string of North American In Your Area shows, which officially kicked off at The Forum in Los Angeles on April 17.

Of course, Blackpink's New Jersey concert included many of the same elements from their previous stateside performances. Staples like Rosé's stripped-down rendition of The Beatles' "Let It Be" and Lisa's sexy dance solo to a mashup of Miso's "Take Me" and Jason Derulo's "Swalla" were well received, as were Jisoo's intoxicating cover of Zedd's "Clarity" and Jennie's confident, dance-driven presentation of her one-off single, "Solo."

However, an unexpected thrill came in the form of a cameo from radio darling Dua Lipa — Blackpink's collaborator on their bilingual banger "Kiss and Make Up." Without warning and seemingly out of nowhere, the British songbird appeared onstage in a black bodysuit paired with knee-high, chartreuse boots. Because both acts have never performed the song live together prior to Wednesday night, Blinks collectively lost it as Lipa strutted down the catwalk, purring the track's opening verse (typically sung by Rosé in her absence).

After four minutes of pure joy, reflected back in the huge smiles and hugs exchanged between Lipa and Blackpink, the Grammy winner left both the audience and girl group in awe. Once Lipa made her exit, Jennie — an avowed fan of the "New Rules" singer whom she often cites as a main influence — expressed her disbelief in what had just occurred. "Oh my God, we're so, like, starstruck right now," she said, visibly emotional. Exclaimed Rosé, "That was crazy!"

Later on, while mingling with press and VIP guests during a backstage meet-and-greet, Jennie was still buzzing about sharing the stage with Lipa. "That was a nice surprise, wasn't it? We were really looking forward to that," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "I'm so glad everyone enjoyed it! It was hard to keep it a secret."

Before Blackpink bid farewell to their audience Wednesday night, the young women — who range in age from 22 to 24 — made sure to voice their gratitude for a successful first show in New Jersey. Following their playful performance of "Kick It," Lisa said that the time spent with the band's legions of tristate area Blinks will never escape their memory. "Seeing you guys having so much fun makes us really, really happy. I will remember today for the rest of my life," she said, holding her hand to her heart. "Thank you, guys. We love you!"

In their final section of the show, Blackpink took fans back to 2016 — when they debuted as a group following years of training under K-pop behemoth YG Entertainment. Announcing a forceful back-to-back performance of their career-making singles, "Boombayah" and "As If It's Your Last," Rosé joked, "We have to jump like we're three years younger. Let's do this. I want to see everybody jumping!"

Naturally, the audience complied with her request and seemingly didn't sit down until Blackpink's last number in their nearly 20-song set — a touching encore performance of their latest ballad, "Hope Not," from their Kill This Love EP.

"You're probably wondering why we're not leaving, but we're coming up to the center of the stage. And that is because we wanted to sing you guys one more song before we left," said Rosé. "This song is actually one we kept for quite a very long time ever since before our debut. It stays a place in a very soft side of our hearts."

She added, "So, I hope you guys can sing along. If not, just kind of hum along. That would be very nice." Again, the crowd listened to Rosé — and, as she predicted, it was very nice. 

Blackpink’s In Your Area tour remains for one more sold-out night at the Prudential Center on Thursday before moving on to Georgia at Duluth's Infinite Energy Center on May 5.

Setlist:  

"Ddu-Du Ddu-Du"

"Forever Young"

"Stay (Remix)"

"Whistle"

"Let It Be / You & I / Only Look at Me" (Rosé solo)

"Take Me / Swalla" (Lisa dance solo)

"Clarity" (Jisoo solo)

"Solo" (Jennie solo)

"Kill This Love"

"Don't Know What to Do"

"Kiss and Make Up" (with Dua Lipa)

"Really"

"See U Later"

"Playing With Fire"

"Kick It"

"Boombayah"

"As If It's Your Last"

"Ddu-Du Ddu-Du (Remix)"

"Hope Not"