[RECAP] (G)I-DLE and NCT Dream Bring Merry Performances to iHeartRadio’s Hot 99.5 Jingle Ball in Washington, DC

Downtown Washington, D.C. was filled with holiday cheer on December 11 as concertgoers made their way to Capital One Arena for iHeartRadio’s Hot 99.5 Jingle Ball (simply known as Jingle Ball). Presented by Capital One, the sold-out event was the eighth stop on the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour and featured performances from a star-studded lineup that consisted of OneRepublic, Jelly Roll, Big Time Rush, Melanie Martinez, Flo Rida, David Kushner, Doechii, along with K-Pop darlings (G)I-DLE and NCT Dream

The halls of the arena were buzzing with excitement as Neverlands and NCTzens, (G)I-DLE’s and NCT Dream’s respective fandoms, showed up in full force armed with lightsticks and dressed in outfits that paid homage to the groups’ music videos and concepts. Many fans of each group even prepared creative handmade freebies such as unofficial photocards and prints to hand out to other Neverlands and NCTzens. But regardless of which artists the 20,000 Jingle Ball attendees were there to see, the jolly, festive energy was felt all around as fans donning holiday-themed outfits and accessories (including Jingle Ball-branded light-up reindeer antler headbands) vibed to the Christmas music blasting through the venue’s speakers and once the show started.


Cr. Adrianna Casiano for iHeartRadio

Kicking off the night’s festivities was the high-energy girl group (G)I-DLE, which consists of members Yuqi, Soyeon, Miyeon, Shuhua, and Minnie. At 7:30PM sharp, the house lights dimmed and the audience was hit with a mesmerizing display of strobe lights and upbeat EDM as (G)I-DLE and their dancers took to the stage. Dressed in all-black outfits, badass leather jackets, and platform boots, the girls exuded power, which was fitting as they launched into their 2022 smash female empowerment anthem, “TOMBOY.”  The audience immediately vibed with the song’s punky guitar riffs and eagerly shouted the lyrics to the iconic chorus: “Yeah, I’m a fucking tomboy!” Complete with well-timed pyrotechnics and fireworks, the song was the perfect song to set the night’s mood.

The girls then took a quick breather to introduce themselves before jumping into “I Want That,” another energetic, girl-power track co-written by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, who would perform later in the evening. “I Want That” captivated Neverlands and casual concertgoers alike with Minnie’s perfectly executed high note and (G)I-DLE and their dancers’ perfect sashay down the stage.

Following “I Want That,” (G)I-DLE then shed their jackets and kept the femme fatale energy going with “Queencard.” The lighthearted, fun song took the world by storm in 2023, and the audience sang and danced along to the recognizable lyrics about self-love and “twerking on the runway.” A blast of confetti during the final chorus had the entire crowd erupting in cheers. 

Cr. Adrianna Casiano for iHeartRadio

As the confetti began to settle and the dancers left the stage, the group took a moment to check in on the crowd’s energy and address the audience. Leader Soyeon noted that there were only two songs left of their set, and Shuhua chimed in that it was time to say their goodbyes. The crowd responded with a chorus of, “Nooo!” and “Awwws.”

“I know, it’s so sad,” remarked Miyeon. “But we are so glad everyone enjoyed our performances with us.”

“We’d like to thank everyone so, so much for being here tonight. Thank you so much for having us,” Minnie began. “Actually, it’s our first time being in D.C., so it’s an honor to be here with you guys. Please invite us again!”

Cr. Adrianna Casiano for iHeartRadio

Yuqi, who had gone backstage for a quick break, ran back to introduce the next song, “I Do,” from their latest EP and first English-language release, Heat, a collaboration with 88rising.

“This song is actually about past love with kind of a bittersweet emotion,” she said. “If any of you have had the same emotion, I want you guys to enjoy the song together with us, okay?”

Taking their places at the mic stands, Yuqi called on the audience to turn on their flashlights as the song’s slowed-down synth intro began to play. (G)I-DLE enchanted the crowd with their smooth vocals and harmonies. Throughout the track, Jingle Ball attendees enthusiastically waved their arms, lightsticks, and even the free attachable phone ring lights they received back and forth to the beat of the song.

The soft final notes of “I Do” then transitioned into a heavier trap beat and the troupe of dancers rejoined the girls onstage. Yuqi noted that it was their last song, and the group jumped right into “MY BAG,” a sexy hip-hop track that highlighted each of the members’ rap skills and synchronized dance moves.

Once the song ended, the girls were met with deafening cheers as they said goodbye and took a final bow as a group. Their fun, lively set left the audience hyped up for what the rest of the night would bring.

NCT Dream

Cr. Adrianna Casiano for iHeartRadio

Following brilliant performances by David Kushner, Melanie Martinez, Big Time Rush, and OneRepublic, it was finally time for the 7-piece boy group NCT Dream to take the stage. The mega-popular group made up of Mark, Renjun, Jeno, Haechan, Jaemin, Chenle, and Jisung, were a highly-anticipated act if the increased volume of the crowd’s screams and the way the arena lit up neon green with NCTzens turning on their lightsticks were anything to go by. Each wearing their own stylish version of a suit-and-tie outfit combo, the Dreamies (as fans lovingly call them) immediately commanded the audience with their stage presence.

They opened their set with “Broken Melodies,” a feel-good, pop rock song from ISTJ, their latest studio album and one of the year’s hottest K-Pop releases. The track offered the audience a glimpse at the members’ all-around talents and teamwork, with captivating high notes courtesy of Chenle and Renjun.

Cr. Adrianna Casiano for iHeartRadio

Without missing a beat, the group got the audience moving with “Hot Sauce,” the hit title track from their album of the same name. The experimental afrobeat-influenced song quite literally heated up the stage as flame machines aptly blew fiery bursts throughout the performance, only fueling the excitement of the crowd.

The boys rode the wave of the upbeat, eclectic energy of “Hot Sauce” by immediately jumping into “ISTJ,” another title track, this time from the aforementioned homonymous album. Following the song’s jazzy bridge featuring Haechan’s soulful riffs, Mark, the group’s leader, had attendees roaring as he strutted to the front of the stage with a call to action before the final chorus: “Ayo, Jingle Ball – lemme hear you SCREAM!”

Cr. Adrianna Casiano for iHeartRadio

After three straight songs, NCT Dream was finally able to catch a moment to cool down and address the crowd. In a nod to the group’s official color, the floor lights and holiday string lights decorating the Jingle Ball stage glowed green as NCTzens continued to scream. The members introduced themselves one-by-one and were met with piercing shrieks from fans.

“Thank you for having us once again. This is our first time at Jingle Ball Washington D.C.,” Mark said. “We’ve got two more songs left for you guys, but we really need you guys to sing with us and dance with us. Can you do that?”

Cr. Adrianna Casiano for iHeartRadio

The audience didn’t disappoint as the Dreamies launched into the English version of “Beatbox,” another lighthearted hip-hop number. Jingle Ball attendees went crazy for the members’ freestyle dance moves and chemistry as a group that was reminiscent of a fun day out with friends.

They closed out their set with “Trigger The Fever.” The playful track appropriately served as the official song of the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup tournament that was hosted by South Korea. The bright, euphoric energy of the song was perfectly complemented by another pop of confetti that left the crowd with a feeling of youthful nostalgia as NCT Dream finished.

The boys said their last goodbyes, but Mark dropped the biggest bomb of the night as he exited the stage. 

“See you soon! We’ll be back on tour!” he announced without further elaboration, which caused fans to lose their minds in screams. The reveal was particularly exciting for DMV (D.C.-Maryland-Virginia)-based fans since the area wasn’t included among the U.S. stops of NCT Dream’s most recent The Dream Show 2 world tour.

Despite K-Pop artists’ sets only making up two sets and about an hour of the entire concert, it was clear that they were a huge driver of the event’s attendance. Many audience members, distinguished by neon green lightsticks, began to make their way out of the venue once NCT Dream’s set concluded although there were still three acts left on the lineup. Outside of the venue, fans took photos and filmed NCT and (G)I-DLE dance covers in front of the Jingle Ball marquee.

Cr. Adrianna Casiano for iHeartRadio

The popularity of K-Pop was even acknowledged by Ryan Tedder during OneRepublic’s performance. A brief portion of the band’s set was dedicated to performing a few measures of popular music written by Tedder for other artists. When introducing his roster, he mentioned that he had co-written songs by Korean artists such as TWICEBlackpink, and TOMORROW X TOGETHER. His work with these artists over the years has recently sparked rumors of possible future releases with Jimin and Jungkook of BTS.

Missed (G)I-DLE, NCT Dream, and P1Harmony’s iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour appearances? Don’t worry – ABC broadcast stations around the country will air an exclusive network special of the performances on December 21 from 8-10PM local time. The special will also be available on-demand and on Hulu the following day.

Based on the passionate response to K-Pop artists at Jingle Ball’s 2023 run, fans will certainly be waiting to see more additions to the lineup for next year’s tour.

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