GFRIEND dazzled the online viewers at “GFRIEND’s ONLINE CONCERT: GFRIEND C:ON” over the weekend with their broad musical spectrum and colorful song repertoire. Even without the presence of a live, in-person audience, the group performed with their usual finesse and elegance. The fans, albeit watching through their screens from the comfort and safety of their own homes, still excitedly cheered on their beloved artists. Despite the concessions to COVID restrictions, GFRIEND’s concert proved to everyone that they are worthy of the coveted title of “Queens of Performance.”
“G C:ON” took place on Saturday, October 31 and marked the group’s first virtual concert and also their first concert since their “2019 GO GO GFRIEND!” Asia tour. The 90-minute virtual event created an opportunity for GFRIEND fans (called BUDDYs) from around the world to come together for an unforgettable night of emotional ballads, upbeat fan favorites, throwback hits, and dazzling, never-before-seen special stages. With sentimental lyrics and melodies accompanied by their signature powerful performance, GFRIEND forged their very own genre of “Powerful Innocence” and “Passionate Sensibility.”
GFRIEND made their bold entrance dressed in embroidered red jackets with a dynamic performance of “Labyrinth,” the rock-electro hybrid track from their eighth EP, 回:Labyrinth,. followed by the ever-addictive 2017 release “Fingertip” that reeled listeners in with the catchy chorus. After the set, Yuju, Sowon, Yerin, SinB, Eunha, and Umji officially welcomed BUDDYs to their first-ever online concert. While the transition to a virtual event brought expected nerves, the girls voiced their excitement to share what they have diligently prepared for the night’s festivities.
Sowon shared that during “Fingertip,” they couldn’t help but laugh as they heard recorded fanchants and screams through their in-ear pieces for the duration of the song. Although BUDDYs could not attend in person, the members shared that they were able to feel outpouring of love and support from their online viewers. “I’m feeling all of your energy as if you’re here screaming and shaking your fanclub sticks. I feel like you all are ,” Yuju explained. “Although we can’t hear you , we really prepared a lot for today.”
The quartet then recounted their fondest memories, citing their first concert, the founding of their fandom BUDDY, and their first #1 hit with their 2016 title track “Rough” as pinnacles of their career. To express their gratitude for BUDDYs unwavering support over nearly the last six years, GFRIEND performed back-to-back performances of “Rough” and “Navillera,” the two title tracks that secured the group’s first places on several music shows. The group garnered recognition for their display of teamwork and synchronization as they navigated through their fast-pace, intricate choreography with ease while still maintaining stable vocal control. As GFRIEND weaved through to a mashup of their debut track “Glass Bead,” and “Me Gustas Tu,” they effortlessly stepped into each move with grace and precision, not missing a single beat even during the transition. They then switched gears and performed their emotional ballad, “Summer Rain.” The members took a brief break to discuss their preparations leading up to tonight’s show before moving forward to the much anticipated special stages.
The first special stage was unlike any other performance. In collaboration with game developer Dalcomsoft Inc., GFRIEND held a special joint stage with the mobile game “SUPERSTAR GFRIEND.” “SUPERSTAR GFRIEND” is a rhythm-based game released on June 15, and is the latest addition to Dalcomsoft’s “SUPERSTAR” series. During GFRIEND’s live medley of “Vacation,” “Sunny Summer,” and “FEVER” the gameplay was projected on the LED screens and in-game “controls” and lyrics were displayed on screen for online viewers to follow along during the performance. The unique additions turned the stage into a special online performance in and of its own.
As “G C:ON” took place on Halloween, it’s only befitting to have the next stage be decorated with coffins, bats, and even skeletons fitted with official GFRIEND merchandise and apparel. Decked out in full-length black dresses and special effects makeup, GFRIEND transformed into chic witches for a bewitching performance of “Apple” from their latest EP, 回:Song of the Sirens. The song’s release marked the group’s most sophisticated comeback to date and showcased their versatility and confidence to adopt new musical styles and concepts.
The most anticipated performances of the night were the live performances of GFRIEND’s unreleased unit songs from their upcoming album, 回:Walpurgis Night. Ever since GFRIEND announced the stages in their invitation video earlier in the week, BUDDYs were waiting eagerly to see what kind of sound will develop from these unit groups. The “Lea-Mak” (Leader-Maknae) unit – composed of Sowon and Umji – adopted a mature and sultry concept with “Better Me.” The duo shared that it was a different vibe from anything they’ve tried in the past and worked hard to showcase a perfect stage.
Then, Yuju and Eunha, dressed in neutral-toned suits, highlighted their smooth vocals with “Night Drive.” The song’s soothing melody emits a sense of longing and acceptance, making it a strong addition to anyone’s late night driving playlists. Yuju described the song as starting off as being in a “blue room,” but by the end of the song they find happiness again and sing, “I’m fine I’m good.” Yerin and SinB wrapped up the unit stages with “Secret Diary,” charming the audience with their infectiously sweet vocals and charismatic stage presence.
Much to both GFRIEND and BUDDYs’ surprise, a brief teaser of the group’s upcoming title track, “MAGO” aired on screen. In the teaser, the girls are decked out in bell bottom jeans and sequined outfits, essentially confirming a retro-themed comeback. Yerin shared, “The addictive melody and honest, bold lyrics is what makes this song so charming.” Eunha continued and shared that the entire album was filled with songs that ranged across different genres and will showcase each member’s unique styles as seen in the unit stages. Although the teaser video aired just for a brief instant, it launched the online viewers into a frenzy, spamming the live chat out of excitement, shock, and their fervent desire to set and accomplish streaming goals for the upcoming release.
Following the unit stages were back-to-back sentimental performances. “Stairs in The North” is an emotional pop-ballad that recounts GFRIEND’s past, present, and future, along with the achievements and obstacles that they endured to get to where they are today. Through the lyrics, the song comforted the audience by stating that you can learn from your hardships and experiences to propel you forward in life. To the viewers’ surprise, the group followed up with a ballad rendition of “Sunrise.” At a live show, this beautiful arrangement would call for a sea of light sticks and cellphone flash lights to sway along to the beat and enchanting strings arrangement. Hopefully BUDDYs will be able to do so at the next in-person concert. As the show drew to an end, the GFRIEND members moved on to perform “Crossroads” and “Time for the Moon Night.” During the latter’s performance, pre-recorded fanchants were incorporated into the live performance, energizing the members throughout the set.
Before the encore, a VCR aired showing the members entering a room one-by-one. Behind the curtains, post-it notes full of messages from their devoted fans lined the windows from floor-o-ceiling. To see all the outpour of love and support displayed in front of them proved to be overwhelming for some members as they teared up while reading messages such as “I wasn’t a fan from the start, but will be a fan until the end.” and “You’ve really been working hard and I’m proud of where you are now.” This segment was one of the most wholesome aspects at the online show, highlighting the effort made to connect both GFRIEND and BUDDYs during these trying times.
For their final send-off, GFRIEND sang the powerful, moving ballad “Here We Are.” The members shared how they’ve always wanted to use this song in an encore ever since they recorded it in the studio. During the performance, the atmospheric backdrop suddenly changed, and the girls were in for another surprise. Behind them, videos of BUDDYs waving their light sticks in the air plastered the LED screens. GFRIEND, caught by surprise, broke down in tears at the surprise gift and touching display of support from those that they have missed the most – their fans. While everyone continues to navigate through the “new normal,” online concerts will continue to aid in bridging the gap and create a digital safe space for artists and fans alike to stay connected.
Written by: Ericka P.