ITZY kicked off the North American leg of their first world tour Checkmate at the Youtube Theater in Inglewood, California on Wednesday, October 26. Composed of five members, the girl group under JYP Entertainment debuted in February 2019 and quickly became well known for their catchy, empowering songs and iconic, skillful dance performances. Their world tour, Checkmate, gets its name from their most recent and fifth Korean extended play, released this past July with the lead single “Sneakers” topping various music charts.
Since their last international tour in January 2020, ITZY Premiere Showcase Tour ITZY? ITZY!, the quintet has matured as artists and grown their discography immensely. The girls were ready and excited to show international MIDZYs new stages they were not able to share due to the COVID-19 pandemic and did not have time to include in their recent appearance at KCON 2022.
Hundreds of ITZY light rings glowed in various colors across the intimate venue as the opening VCR played, showing the girls in their signature, luxurious outfits that characterized their “Checkmate” promotions. As a chess piece free falls through the air, the lights flashed and stage doors open to reveal ITZY in stunning bejeweled, all-white outfits next to human-sized chess pieces.
After the girls took their spots, fans cheered in excitement until Ryujin broke the silence, saying “I’m the Mafia.” Her words led into the remixed rock and roll version of “In The Morning” from their fourth Korean extended play, GUESS WHO. A dance break followed the second chorus that featured their backup dancers before seamlessly transitioning back to the bridge to conclude the opening stage of the night.
Continuing the rock vibe was the remixed version of “Sorry Not Sorry,” a tune filled with electric guitar sounds instead of the usual bouncy instrumental. In this stage, the girls’ sassy and confident stage presence was on full display.
Shifting the mood, sensual purple lights illuminated Yeji as she sang the opening for “SHOOT!” where, at the end of her verse, a dancer placed a regal crown on her head. The spotlight shifted to Lia who took a crown from a dancer and placed it on her own head as the rest of the members, all now adorned with sparkly crowns, joined her on stage. Apart from the intricately choreographed interactions with their dancers, the cherry on top of this performance was Chaeryeong’s highlighted moment where she sang her iconic ending lines “I know that’s like a fool, yeah but that’s what I do” as she took off her crown and chicly tossed it before strutting away.
As the lights came back up on the members for their opening ment, Ryujin started barking, mimicking what fans did earlier, with Yeji also joining in. Despite Lia being the only native English speaker, the girls went through the entire concert without the help of a translator.
After showcasing three songs from GUESS WHO, the girls were eager to perform new songs from CHECKMATE starting with the upbeat, dynamic “What I Want.” Lia had issues with her mic pack but professionally dealt with the issue, completing the song without missing a step. Following “What I Want” was the bass-heavy, hip-hop track “365” which had fans thoroughly impressed with the sexy, hard-hitting choreography.
Ryujin finished off “365” with a spotlighted dance, which perfectly transitioned into her solo stage, a cover of Doja Cat’s “Boss Bitch.” Now donning a luxurious fur coat and a handheld mic, Ryujin flaunted her rapping skills and girl crush stage presence, and even cleverly transformed (and censored) the lyrics to ‘I’m Ryujin I’m a boss.”
All five members reunited on stage for the fan-favorite track “Cherry” from IT’z ICY. Their effortless yet powerful rapping and dancing were accompanied by MIDZY singing along to the iconic lyrics, “really really me I’m a cherry on top.”
In their second ment, Lia remarked how she heard that MIDZYs really like “Cherry,” which the crowd cheered enthusiastically in agreement to. The members complimented Ryujin’s stage, with Yeji and Chaeryeong even copying the signature booty-shaking move, and MIDZYs reassured Ryujin that they loved her solo stage.
Proceeding to show more stages, an acapella version of “ICY” began, followed by the stage lights dramatically turning on. Despite performing back-to-back stages with very little time in between, the girls were energetic and bright throughout all of “ICY,” especially killing the dance break.
The whimsical “Free Fall” kept the energy going as MIDZYs made sure to sing the catchy “weeee” part along with the members. Reaffirming that ITZY’s discography is full of great B-sides, the electronic pop track “#Twenty” had some of the best reactions of the night, especially Yuna‘s rap verse and the addictive “Twenty Twenty ooh ooh” chorus.
Yuna adorably pedaled onto the stage on a bike (complete with a basket and training wheels) holding flowers for her solo stage of “Maniac” by Conan Grey. Adding acting elements to her stage, Yuna kicked over her bike and threw her flowers to encapsulate the angry and frustrated emotions of the song. Making use of the whole stage and her dancers, Yuna’s confident, bright energy made the stage feel like a tropical party, complete with confetti blasting at the last chorus.
Carrying on with the solo stages, Lia came back to the stage with just a mic stand at center stage for a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Red.” In the first half of the song, Lia’s sweet and gentle vocals were highlighted against the acoustic guitar instrumental before the second half switched to a more upbeat, band version, showcasing her unique and powerful sound. Despite having issues with her ear monitor, Lia amazed fans with her vocals, complemented by flowers in the background that blossomed as she sang her high notes at the climax.
As a continuation of the first VCR, the chess match against the mysterious, masked opponent intensifies and a chess piece turns pink for the final chess match titled “Queen of the Year.” The video cuts between each member competing in their chess match and changing from regal, mysterious outfits to colorful, quirky ones. The girls finally defeated their opponent and took over the black and white chessboard, turning it into a bright, graffitied stage to mark the start of the second half of the concert.
Reflecting the transformation from the VCR, the girls reemerge from stage doors in their signature punk-inspired, high-teen fashion in a suspense dance intro, leading to the viral shoulder dance from “Wannabe.” Quickly transitioning to the next stage, their debut song “DALLA DALLA” excited MIDZYs and the girls spread out, interacting with fans from all parts of the stage, before coming back together for the dance break. “Sneakers,” their most recent title track, rounded out this section of their popular title tracks.
Taking a moment to chat with the audience, Lia reflected on how the past few songs were very meaningful because they were their title tracks and debut song and also revealed that MIDZYs actually recommended “Red” to her through VLIVE. Ryujin proudly introduced Chaeryeong as the next solo stage, with Chaeryeong acting shy by burying her face in her shirt, as the members led the crowd by shouting “Let’s” and the crowd responded with “Go!”
Covering Ariana Grande’s “Bloodline,” Chaeryeong drove MIDZYs crazy with her femme fatale charms, singing directly into the camera, laying and climbing on top of a table prop, and executing flawless choreography and high notes. Yeji took the stage next with her cover of “Hotter Than Hell” by Dua Lipa, focusing on her powerful, rich vocals while working the entire stage.
Instead of a typical VCR, fans were treated to the recently released “Boys Like You” music video before the girls came back in school uniform-inspired outfits. Pleasantly surprised, the crowd quickly registered that “Boys Like You” was being performed, marking the first time the girls performed it live on stage and sang along enthusiastically.
While performing the rock anthem like “Nobody Like You,” ITZY’s playful nature was on display as they interacted with the close-up cameras on stage and pointed directly to fans in reference to the lyrics and sweetly ended the stage with a group hug.
Throughout the show, whenever a stage ended, MIDZYs would start “barking.” Having grown accustomed to this, the members started egging the crowd to bark at them. Ryujin asked MIDZYs if they enjoyed “Boys Like You” and if they would listen to it again and again, making a dance reference to labelmate 2PM’s “Again & Again.” Commenting on the last two solo performances, Lia called Yeji “hot” and Ryujin pointed out how it was more fun because every member had their own distinct style. Sadly, it was time for the girls to say goodbye, but Chaeryeong cheekily teased the audience saying “we might come back if you do the mission well” before launching into their final song with a “Let’s Go” chant.
Ending on a high note, the girls put on a dynamic, energetic performance of “LOCO,” but confused fans as the other members exited, leaving Ryujin and the dancers to do the signature dance break without them. Suddenly, the stage doors reopened to reveal the rest of the members as a remixed, rock version to “Not Shy” played, which delighted fans who thought “LOCO” was the last song.
After the girls left the show, fans participated in various audience missions including a dance time to the songs “LOCO,” “DALLA DALLA” and “Sneakers” and a 2x speed fan-chant along to “Wannabe.” Finally, MIDZYs used their light rings to scream and fill up the “Crown” to bring back the girls and chanted “ITZY” in celebration.
Reappearing on stage in the stunning white outfits and angel wings from the “Boys Like You” music video, the girls looked absolutely breathtaking and ethereal singing “Domino” into their mic stands against a heavenly, cloud backdrop. Taking their mics off their stands, the members spread out to interact with the audience as they sang their fan-dedicated song “Trust Me (MIDZY)” and looked like angels walking on clouds as fog slowly filled the stage throughout the song.
Yeji confessed that she felt shy wearing these angel wings, with her members doing the viral “Shy Shy Shy” from labelmate Twice’s “Cheer Up” in agreement. Lia also admitted to feeling shy, especially seeing how beautiful Yuna was, and wondered if she also looked as angelic as Yuna to which MIDZYs eagerly responded that she was also very beautiful. The members dedicated these last two songs as gifts to MIDZYs and thanked MIDZY for giving ITZY their wings.
Giving their final thoughts, the crowd chanted for each of the members (and barked) and the girls all thanked MIDZYs for cheering loudly and coming out, especially because they were not able to come for a while due to the pandemic. Yuna sweetly concluded that as long as ITZY is with MIDZYs, ITZY can do anything.
After taking group photos, the members performed “IT’z Summer” with lots of sexy, freestyle dancing including a “Spin the Bottle” game which determined who would lead the dance that the members would have to follow. Hilariously, they forgot to tell the audience about the mission ahead of time, making the “winner” Yuna shy about completing the mission.
To conclude the night, the members sang the bright and sweet song “Be In Love,” looking even more angelic as white confetti fell around them. The girls made sure to wave goodbye to every fan in the audience before exiting the stage for the final time.
Through their CHECKMATE tour, ITZY reaffirmed that they have one of the most dynamic live performances in K-Pop and successfully showcased the multi-faceted charms of their members through their first-ever solo stages.