KARD is a rare but welcome sight in the K-Pop scene as one of the few mainstream co-ed groups with two female members, Somin and Jiwoo, and two male members, BM and J.Seph. Since their pre-debut days, they’ve amassed a large international following due to their trendy music, edgy choreography, and amazing group chemistry. KARD is regarded as one of the most successful co-ed K-Pop groups of all time largely because of their dedicated international fanbase.
Following the success of their second world tour and renewing their contracts with parent company DSP Media, KARD returned to Los Angeles for their 2023 World Tour Playground on Wednesday, August 2 at the historical Orpheum Theatre. Playground kicked off in Mexico, spanned across 10 different cities in the United States, and is scheduled to conclude in Europe.
KARD opened the night with “ICKY” from their most recent sixth-mini album of the same name, ICKY. Fans enthusiastically sang along to the suggestive, NSFW lyrics that went viral among the K-Pop community upon release. Like many groups who perform with a newfound sense of freedom after breathing in the “American air,” BM went all out during his extremely provocative rap section with hip thrusts that left fans screaming in shock and excitement. Next was the bright, playful “Without You” which served as the digital single for ICKY.
Los Angeles Hidden KARDs (the official fandom name) loudly welcomed the members with their affectionate barking. BM proudly announced that he was back in his hometown and was pleasantly surprised by almost a third of the audience being first-time KARD concert attendees.
Despite the hot weather, KARD refreshed fans with energetic performances of “Ring the Alarm” and “Hola Hola” perfectly paired with colorful, tropical backgrounds. Somin innocently asked fans “What do you do when you are hot and want to cool down?” to which BM naughtily responded with “I get naked!” Jiwoo and J.Seph both answered calmly by expressing they would want to drink a cold alcoholic beverage to beat the heat.
Longtime Hidden KARDs would remember that KARD was introduced to the public with a unique marketing strategy with a three-part pre-debut project. Although “Hola Hola” was their official debut song, KARD wanted to throw it back even further with their first pre-debut single “Oh NaNa.” After the song, BM asked the crowd how old they were when “Oh NaNa” first came out in 2016. The members were shocked and amused that the youngest audience member was only eleven years old when they watched the group do the iconic booty-shaking choreography.
Old photos from their “Hola Hola” promotions and pre-debut practice were projected on the background screen, eliciting “awws” from the crowd because of how cute and young the members looked. BM mischievously requested to zoom into J.Seph’s face in one of the photos because J.Seph looked very wholesome and cute.
Now that they’ve shown a few group stages, it was time for the special duo and solo stages starting with the girls and their “Fxxk You” duet from their recent album. Jiwoo and Somin showcased their feminine, sensual sides with their sultry vocals and incorporation of chair and floor choreography. For his solo stages, BM boldly came out in a leather jacket with nothing underneath for the sentimental “LIE” and then the angsty, emotional “Broken Me,” occasionally flashing his abs while working the entire stage.
BM expressed his appreciation for being able to do two solo songs and excitedly introduced J.Seph to the stage to complete the next performance. The two boys brought the energy up with their hip-hop duet “Been That Boy” where they both showed off their rapping prowess and delighted fans with their synchronized dance during the chorus.
It was now the halfway point of the show and fans were treated to a behind-the-scenes video of KARD preparing for the Playground tour. Highlights included the girls getting mad at J.Seph for playing non-stop pranks on them, and the members affectionately saying “fuck you” to each other during the preparation for the song “Fxxk You.” BM even addressed that they all agreed to renew their contracts early so they can continue to make music together.
Back in sleek, black leather and mesh outfits, KARD performed their other two pre-debut single songs “Rumor” and “Don’t Recall.”
The members asked each other what they did yesterday for their rest day and the girls excitedly told the crowd they went shopping and ate boiling crab. They hilariously exclaimed that they were jealous of LA Hidden KARDs because they don’t have Boiling Crab in Korea.
BM then explained they named their tour Playground because they wanted to create a space where there are no worries, stress, or anxiety. Just pure fun and positivity like how when we were kids on a playground. The members instructed everyone to sit down to enjoy the next stage dedicated to those dealing with toxic ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends. They performed the powerful, heart-wrenching “Break Down” while standing still with mic stands, allowing fans to focus on their raw vocals.
Intrigued by the various fan signs in the audience, BM picked out a specific fan who drew realistic portraits of the members with colored pencils and even gave her Instagram handle a shoutout.
Resuming the performances, they performed the fan-favorite songs “GUNSHOT” and “Bomb Bomb.” J.Seph jokingly asked fans if they saw their “rough, sexy charms” in the past two stages which led the members to engage in a “Sexy Competition” with each other.
BM liberally used the floor to show off his charms and J.Seph went the comical approach with some slow booty movements and surprised fans by flashing his elusive abs. Jiwoo busted out some sexy floor choreography and Somin lured everyone into her subtle yet powerful hip movements. Because of how sexy Somin was, BM “made it rain” on Somin with the napkins they were using to wipe their sweat.
To declare a winner, the fans cheered for their favorites and J.Seph even did an encore of his strange yet sexy twerking. The ultimate winner was Somin who delighted fans with an additional showcase of her dance moves.
Reiterating the meaning of the show, BM wished for this concert and experience to be a good memory that brings people back to a good place. When fans shouted “you’re sexy!” at BM, he giggled like a happy kid and requested for fans to “tell me again.” Somin promised that KARD will be back in Los Angeles and Jiwoo vowed to let loose and have fun during these last few stages. J.Seph confessed he was really sleepy and tired right up until the show started but was revived by “ICKY” and the fans’ energies.
BM screamed “Who came ready to get fed?” and fans screamed in delight as they launched into the explosive, spicy performance of “CAKE.” The members showed off their electric chemistry with each other in the partner choreography and demonstrated their mature, sexy charms. When “CAKE” ended, the lights blacked out and the familiar intro of “we go dumb dumb” came on as fans erupted into cheers for the last song “Dumb Litty.”
A video of the word “encore” in many, many different fonts came on the screen to lead fans into cheering for an encore. The members re-entered the stage in their tour merchandise and bubble guns in hand for “Ride on the Wind.” Fans gifted them Dodgers and LA baseball caps that the members proudly donned.
To help decide what to perform next, they brought onstage a spinning wheel with well-loved songs that didn’t quite make it to the setlist like songs “Go Baby,” “Red Moon,” “Enemy,” and “Good Love.” The crowd cheered the loudest for “Red Moon” and much to everyone’s delight, the wheel actually landed on the “Red Moon” section! Throughout the song, the members made sure to do lots of fan service for Hidden KARDs including shirt lifts from BM and Somin.
The last encore stage of the night was “ICKY” and the audience participated in filming the TikTok challenge version of the choreography. For his part, BM even jumped off the stage and into the audience. The four of them held hands and bowed to say goodbye to fans and teased them by asking “Who’s coming to 2024?” Somin lingered on stage even after her fellow members left and took off the tour merchandise shirt she was wearing over her stage outfit and threw it to a lucky audience member. BM followed suit and came back onstage, but with absolutely no shirt at all, and then also threw his shirt to the crowd.
In addition to their great, energetic stages, the KARD members truly made the concert an experience to remember by filling the night with personal anecdotes and interactive segments, and communication with their fans. The love that KARD has for Los Angeles, especially as it is BM’s hometown, was palpable and the members are eager to come back to show off new music and sides of themselves. There is no doubt that KARD has a dedicated international fanbase and international Hidden KARDs will continue to work hard to support them from afar and hopefully get them their first music show win very soon.