Seems like its concert season again! K-pop girl group GFRIEND (여자친구) announced Malaysia as a part of their “Go Go Gfriend!” Tour. Held on the 29th of June 2019 at Stadium Malawati, Shah Alam, the concert was organised by Macpiepro. This is the group’s first visit to Malaysia, which made fans extra excited to see their favourite girls perform live.
GFriend is made up of six members; Sowon, Yerin, Eunha, SinB, Yuju, and Umji. The group has made quite a name for themselves in the world of K-pop with their anime-esque sound and trademark intensive dance moves. Debuting in 2015, the girls has steadily risen up the charts by standing out with their notable robust, pop sound.
The gates of Stadium Malawati was filled come the day of the event. 4,300 fans (also known as Buddies) were animatedly chatting away, cramming in line to get first dibs on Gfriend merch and goodies, taking photos in front of posters, and overall just brimming with excitement. The energy could be felt once you entered the stadium, despite the fact that it was an all seated concert. The moment the lights went off, the guttural screams being heard was a clear indicator of the overwhelming excitement of the crowd.
From the bombastic lights to the grand introduction of each members on the huge LED screen; GFriend made an entrance with a bang and a splash of colour. The familiar guitar riff of “Me Gustas Tu” rang through the speakers of the stadium as the girls themselves finally appeared on stage, dressed in candy coloured blazers with outfits to match. The ferocity of cheers that erupted the moment GFriend appeared in the flesh was enough to quake the halls of Malawati, rattling like the cry of a 100-year old spirit that finally avenged a grudge.
Perhaps it’s been a long time coming, as after all, this is the group’s first visit despite being active in the K-pop scene for several years now. Songs about partying and taking a vacation came on next, accompanied by relaxing imagery, truly setting the mood for a holiday. All traces of the stadium vanished; all that visible were 6 gorgeous girls and the blue of the animated ocean backdrop.
After performing 3 songs, a cute voice gushed, “Selamat petang, kami GFriend!”. It was none other than Sowon, the leader of the group, who greeted the crowd. The girls took their time to tell us the concept of their concert, explaining how the title of their tour was so that they could ‘run along’ with Buddies, much like a marathon. With mentions of how Buddies would love what they had in store for the crowd tonight (including different sides of GFriend, interesting stages, and even acting!), the lights were dimmed.
It’s hard not to smile watching GFriend perform.
Their stages exude brightness and warmth, with explosions of colour from their backdrops. It’s important to note the effort put in for their props as well, and how quickly it changed from song to song. It was especially evident during the Candy Land scene of “Truly Love” and the cafe tables and chairs for “Love In The Air”. The lights were then dimmed as the screen lit up with personal messages from each of the members. As the sentimental words formed, it was hard not to get emotional.
When the lights came back on, the girls returned after the first outfit change of the night; same candy coloured, pastel outfits but their blazer tops were replaced with dresses or crop tops and skirts. Gfriend served both stylish and feminine looks, as well as iconic high notes in their songs. In fact, they never once let down the energy once; effortlessly commanding the crowd to the beat of their songs. With their trademark synth-pop sounds, electric guitar riffs, and surprisingly fast-paced choreography, Gfriend is more than what meets the eye. They may be seemingly sweet, but make no mistake, these girls mean business. The answer comes in the form of razor-sharp dance moves and perfect synchronization. It’s a marvel to see how soft they remain while absolutely killing it on stage.
“You Are My Star” was the beginning of the slower numbers of the night, where members took their time walking around the extended stage to sing along with the fans. Lyrics appeared in English on the screen for “A Starry Sky”, which made Buddies resonate with the song even more. With smiles and mentions of “terima kasih!”, the girls disappeared behind the stage once more to prepare for the unit stages.
A rather dramatic questioned posed as the introduction of the VCR; “What if GFriend debuted as 3?” The mere thought of it was enough to get fans gasping in horror, as the mini-drama slowly began unfolding on the screen. Showcasing their acting and comedic sides, fans seemed quite entertained by the clip. The unit acts were based off their skit, where the girls of “Hug Hug” (which consisted of Yerin, Eunha, and Umji) appeared in huge puffy dresses with store-bought tiaras and saccharine sounds. All signs of cuteness were replaced by mature leopard prints of the older members, as “World Peace” (led by Sowon, SinB, and Yuju) took the stage next. Serving animal kingdom couture with a touch of furry, a heavy, throbbing EDM sound pounded through the stadium speakers.
you are not alone ?
— amy met gfriend! (@beingwonwoo) June 29, 2019
After a caricature filled the screen, signaling that “emotional GFriend” stages were about to begin, the girls came out all in sequinned black ensembles. The emotional “You Are Not Alone” came on, Yuju’s crisp clear vocals cutting through the night. The bright lighting showed the sultry outfits better, as GFriend oozed seduction for “Only 1” and “LUV”. This certainly showcased a new side of GFriend, the hair flips and grinding of hips… this was no longer the cute girls from earlier! In their place stood confident women who knew exactly what they were doing. Despite the bright nature of their songs, it was all about the subtleties–mainly their expressions.
The girls took a break to inform the crowd that they’ve reached the midpoint of their performance. It only took mentions of them mentioning how the crowd was quiet, to get the entire stadium screaming the house down. The lights dimmed once again as the girls took the stage, singing an acoustic rendition of “Rough”. The angsty number was filled with even more emotion when sung in as a ballad, which had the crowd wolf whistling at the clear high notes being sung effortlessly.
— gokpop (@goKPOP) June 29, 2019
It was then time for the highly anticipated stage of “ Sunrise”, their latest single. The song easily had the loudest cheers, with Buddies furiously chanting along in time to the song. The members show off their impressive range as they completed face paced choreography while sounding extremely stable. The equally dramatic prequel, “Time in the Moon Night”, came up next. Tinged with nostalgia, the songs tugged at heartstrings as it spoke of dreams and love. After the girls disappeared once again behind the stage, English lyrics of both songs filled the screens, along with orchestral renditions of the song. As this goes on, we see how the themes of opposites (especially with the sun and moon) play into GFriend’s concepts for these two EPs.
All speculation of what that meant however, was gone the moment GFriend appeared. As the dramatic intro of “Memoria” played, the lights illuminated the glamourous glittery dresses the girls had changed into. Wiping away traces of nostalgia with the upbeat and sexy “Flower” and a snippet of “Crush”, Gfriend got the crowd to the right headspace before launching them into the powerhouse that was “Finger Tip.” A turning point in GFriend’s discography, the powerful synth, rambunctious electric guitar, and drums of the track rang through the stadium. Bursting with girl powers of the 80s, GFriend exploded with charisma as they showcased their charms.
Taking a break to interact with the crowd for a bit, the members mentioned that it was time for them to say their last words for the night. Sowoon mentioned how she’d love to come back to Malaysia after seeing the reaction today. The girls even said that they read comments saying “come to Malaysia” and here they were! Umji surprised everyone by speaking in English, ending it with, “You guys were bagus!” “Korean pronunciation is bagus!”, added Yerim, which earned her a loud round of cheers. With promises of coming back as soon as possible for another round, the lights went off for the high energy “NAVIRELLA”.
When the stadium went dark, only lightsticks illuminated the place with a pale glow.
However fans knew better by now, and chants of “Encore!” echoed through the night until the music came back on. A VCR started playing, showing the behind the scenes of the members writing lyrics for the first time. As it was a fan song, they wanted to aptly capture the sincerity they felt. So when the girls came back out (and the said song, “Hope”, came on) the meaning touching fans even deeper than before. The girls were clad in comfortable tour T-shirts as they took their time walking to every corner of the extended stage, dancing along with fans. They even brought out monopods attached with phones for “Love Bug”, as the screens showed the girls with adorable cat and bunny stickers on their faces, singing along while being their goofy selves.
Doe-eyed Eunha smiled as she said, “We cannot return to Korea because your cheers are too loud!” The girls thanked fans for the banner projects and all their efforts for coming out today. They slowly took time to explain how they wanted to say thanks with a song that they themselves wrote. The youngest member, Umji, earnestly noted that “We put our hearts into the lyrics.” It was perhaps the most moving when the girls mentioned how even though we speak different languages, fans were able to understand exactly what they meant. As the final song of the night, “Compas” played—no tears were shed. The bright and cheerful song got everyone bobbing happily along, determined to end the night with smiles.
GFriend proved that having immediate knock out singles are just as important as the ones that age gracefully. With a sound that you don’t usually hear on the radio, GFriend stands out like a sore thumb in comparison to their competitors in the scene. That being said, their songs just seem to have a way of sneaking into your life and snaking itself around you until you’re filled with the suffocating need to burst out into chorus along with their addictive singles. In the more experimental phase of their discography, it will be a journey to see how much GFriend will continue to grow and prosper as a girl group like none before.
The assumption that girl groups need to “toughen up” for a girl crush concept is perhaps one of the biggest mistakes one could make when it comes to K-pop. There is nothing wrong with being soft and typically feminine, which is why a girl group like GFriend is so important. By not conforming to the boxes set before them, GFriend shows how they can remain powerful by changing the way the world views strength. With their fearlessly feminine concepts, the six girls are walking definitions of what it takes to be strong females in the industry. Now, that’s girl power!