If I wasn’t so certain that it would become a viral reaction picture, I would show you the pictures of me crying so hard that I couldn’t keep my eyes open when TWICE dreamily floated onto the Atlanta stage. Throughout the night, if I thought about it too hard, I would find myself getting misty all over again.
Now, I normally am not one to endorse being so obsessed with a celebrity that you are a puddle of tears upon seeing them from several yards away. But I knew it was unlikely I would make it to Seoul, South Korea anytime soon — so the fact that these nine girls came to the United States was something I had deemed impossible.
I tricked myself into this mindset considering TWICE isn’t a household name the way that a group like BTS is. However, I severely underestimated my fellow ONCE fanbase. According to a recent Forbes article discussing the full tour, TWICE became the first k-pop girl group to have multiple US tours alongside their 2019 TWICELIGHTS run. While BLACKPINK and 2NE1 have performed in the states, they have yet to return. TWICE having the demand to return is impressive enough, with the cherry on top being rave reviews and sold out shows.
Sold out, three hour shows that is. Something often admired by the fanbase but overlooked by those outside is TWICE’s true knack for duality. At one point in the show, we hear “Likey,” a 2017 single using elementary English with a dance that screams for the musical.ly app. It was only a few songs ago that the arena was rocked by “Cry For Me,” a 2022 b-side with gut wrenching lyrics, belting vocals and advanced choreography. There is merit to both tracks, and both are equally loved by their fandom, ONCE. To them, that is TWICE, the ability to sound like a candy shop one moment and a Broadway showstopper the next. Their set perfectly plays into their duality — giving us the color pop, the girl crush, and the in between.
Spending much of my time watching captioned videos of the girls speaking their native Korean, and never having been to a k-pop show before, I am not sure what I expected when it came to TWICE addressing the arena. These segments were endlessly endearing as the members either addressed us through a translator, or with carefully practiced English. At one point, TWICE’s lead rapper Dahyun found herself struggling with whether or not to use “is” or “are” in a sentence. The translator is doing her best to translate Dahyun’s confusion, which only adds to the confusion of everyone. At last, Dahyun pieces together “ONCEs love is good.” After this, Dahyun appears embarrassed and hurriedly moves to the next part of the show. At this point, I became painfully aware of the language and cultural barrier between us and the members, and so thankful that they continue to work hard for us.
Towards the end of the show, TWICE relays this sentiment back as they can hear fans singing in Korean back to them. Now, I say “in Korean” loosely. I find myself repeating sounds of the songs I listen to the most, and humming through the rest so as not to embarrass and offend. Still, many take the time to learn their favorite parts, aiding in the girls’ comfort on stage in a foreign country. There were even some ONCEs with perfectly practiced fanchants locked and loaded — a concept in Korea involving coordinated times to yell the members names and key lyrics.
It helps that TWICE always has a healthy dose of English in their fan favorites, and even fully English songs. What has quickly become one of my favorite album tracks, ICON, was performed flawlessly in English. Being able to rap along to “damn, I got it, I’m iconic” with the rapline was as empowering to us as it was to them, and truly makes it feel like we are all connected.
Perhaps the best example of this connection with their fans is the random song encore wheel. After performing their carefully practiced and choreographed tracks for us for hours, a comically large carnival wheel is pushed onto the stage, plastered with random songs from the TWICE catalog. The choices demonstrate a key awareness that the girls and their team have of what ONCE wants to see. For example, the beloved fandom meme song “I’m Gonna Be A Star” is teased as a possible choice, but so are mature b-sides like 2019s “Love Foolish.” For our show in particular, we were awarded the first ever live performance of “Last Waltz,” an elaborate storytelling track from latest album Formula of Love. Simply performing that solidified Atlanta as a piece of TWICE history, giving every ONCE in attendance a story to tell as we all spread back out from our meeting place in Georgia.
To that end, the performance from the members is undoubtedly what keeps this tour making headlines, but it’s ONCE that puts the energy over the top. I alluded earlier to feeling like TWICE fits into a niche despite their clear popularity. K-pop still has a stigma in the United States — and while the numbers these groups rank in make their popularity line up with the likes of Ariana Grande or Dua Lipa, you won’t hear them discussed with the same energy.
TWICE painted Atlanta pink upon their arrival. Everywhere you went, you could tell who was joining you at the show. Sometimes it was as obvious as merchandise from 2019s TWICELIGHTS tour, other times it was a photocard of Jihyo in someone’s clear phone case as they paid in front of you at Starbucks. When you connected with a ONCE, there was an immediate sense of a shared bond, something bigger than you and this fellow fan. No competition over who stanned first, no fanwars, nothing. Just the fact that the girls traveled here from Seoul, and you and this ONCE likely traveled too, and want nothing more than to show TWICE how loved they are here.
ONCEs brought freebie photocards, stickers, and bracelets to give to new friends. Activities were organized — such as the random dance play that went on for hours outside the venue line. Fans were using Twitter to connect to each other, giving helpful advice about merchandise, lines, and nearby hotels and food. Outfit compliments were shouted left and right, selfie’s were taken with someone you just met, TikToks dances were playfully crashed, photocards were traded.
Seeing TWICE in any capacity was special. But seeing them surrounded by fans with the same mutual love for these nine humble girls from Seoul? That’s what takes this tour to the next level.
Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Hannah is an accidental internet meme, drummer, loud talker, and proud owner of a purse that functions as a working analog clock. She got the media writer gene from her dad, PF Wilson, another writer for Pop Culture Beast. Her favorite bands come and go on a seasonal rotation, but Marina & The Diamonds and Say Anything are here to say. She’s probably watching The Grand Budapest Hotel right now, but if she isn’t, she’s out photographing rock concerts.