It’s time for Kpopalypse’s first online concert review, as Kpopalypse checks out Twice’s “Beyond Live – Twice: World In A Day” online concert!
So… online concerts – who gives a fuck, right? Surely so much of the appeal of a live concert is actually being there with the group – wouldn’t that be lost through a computer screen? In fact, I hadn’t even planned to check out Twice’s one at all, and was happily going to just ignore its existence completely, when a very nice reader messaged me out of the blue and asked me if I was interested in it. I said no of course, but they offered to shout me the ticket price if I wrote a review of it. I appreciated their generous offer but told them that perhaps they’d have friends who would like to go and maybe they would appreciate the offer more, but also that I’d be happy to take it up if none of them did. As it happened none of this person’s friends were interested, so here I am, writing this review.
So what exactly is an online concert anyway? Well it’s pretty much just a livestream of a stage performance.
The main panel is obviously the livestream view and on the right side was a nice chat bar where I could leave messages that would immediately scroll up and out of sight, buried under the truckload of custom emojis that everyone else was spamming that I had no idea how to access (maybe this was extra content I had to pay for?). I could fullscreen the video obviously for maximum “being there” vibe, and of course I could download the Vlive app and watch it on my mobile device too, although fuck that, who the fuck would want to watch an entire concert on their tiny mobile phone screen unless they literally had no other option is beyond me. There was also constant appeals from people in the chat bar to “click hearts” but I don’t really know what that meant or why it mattered, and the heart in the bottom left under the video title didn’t seem to actually do anything when I clicked it anyway.
So exactly what IS happening in that above image? Well it’s Twice fans who were streaming themselves, which was then being projected onto the walls of the live stage.
I’m not exactly sure how this was supposed to work on my end, as I had no desire to find out and turn myself one of the many digital panels. This feeling of not wanting to be involved only compounded once I heard what the fans sounded like. Whoever organised this concert made the interesting decision to make the fans audible, so people could do fanchants, cheer, yell out random dumb shit and do all those other things that people do at live concerts. Sounds good in theory, right? The problem with this, is that the digital sum of a bunch of fans yelling retarded shit through a webcam microphone actually sounds a lot less like a crowd at an actual live concert, and a lot more like a horde of drooling, slavering zombies. I legitimately first thought that the fans were all booing the group for some reason, and even the Twice girls themselves were weirded out by it at first. Think I’m exaggerating? Here you go:
“So interesting” indeed. So the concept of “World In A Day” is fairly obvious, with Twice being with all of their fans all at once, and thus “travelling the world” in a sense. The visual presentation of the concert played on this theme, with a special flying CGI “Twice taxi” taking the girls to and from different set locations, some of them themed around different cities.
The stage setup and the fact that it wasn’t “really live” allowed for some cool trickery, including the aforementioned taxi drop offs, some neat costume changes including one song where the girls seamlessly changed outfits mid-song, and some very clever CGI-enhanced staging:
Unfortunately the “not really live” aspect also extended to the musical front, with quite a lot of visible lip-sync going on. A lot of vocal parts were obviously pre-recorded earlier, with the girls rushing to catch up to the recording at some points and Jeongyeon at one stage completely forgetting to have the microphone up to her lips while she “sang”, an oopsie that the live-chat definitely noticed. Speaking of Jeongyeon, she had to perform sitting down due to an injury. She still stood with the group during the talky bits and the ballads, but remained seated for the dance routines.
It actually worked pretty well and wasn’t too weird or anything, and she honestly seemed pretty fatigued, so I’m prepared to cut her a lot of slack. Better Jeongyeon than no Jeongeyon – given that she’s my favourite in the group (and is looking appealingly thicc right now I must say) I would have been bummed if she wasn’t there, so I appreciate her pushing through and making the effort to be present even if it was blatantly obvious that a live concert was the very last thing she wanted to be doing at that moment. Hopefully she’s getting some bed rest right now while I write this up, honestly I was just happy that she managed to get through the show without passing out.
So onto the music, and that’s what we’re all here for, right? Right? Well actually, I’m not so sure, but if it’s Twice’s songs you wanted, here’s what you got:
- Stuck In My Head – a great choice as a heavy rock opener
- Touchdown – also a cool rock version
- Fancy – also significantly more rock than usual.
At this point I thought that maybe the whole show would be more rock-focused but no, it was only these three songs that had extra rock backing.
Anyway then we had an overlong boring talk break where the girls all introduced themselves and reinforced again and again how it’s so great to be with all their fans all at once, even if it was also slightly weird. This got super tiresome and would happen a lot more times during the concert.
More songs then happened:
- Heart Shaker – sadly, an ill-advised “ballad remix”
- Love Foolish
More talking and selling the “we’re with you ONCEs always” fantasy plus some “meet the fans” crap where they talked to a few people from the “wall” streaming at home. I guess that was nice for those three people but it was equal parts dull and surreal for the rest of us. Maybe even for the girls themselves.
- What Is Love
- Yes Or Yes
Yes Or Yes is the song where they had the outfit change, performing for a while with both white outfits and red simultaneously using editing trickery. This was legitimately a cool moment.
Then we had some more talking, and then:
The some more talking where Twice read out boneheaded messages on the livechat, and also took some “photos with the fans” or whatever.
Although bored as fuck with all the talking, I did my best to show my support.
Then, more songs:
- Feel Special
- More & More
“More & More” had the cool CGI garden stage, which was great because it made up a little for the low quality of the song and gave me something to look at instead.
Then there was some more talking (including the horrifying announcement than an English version of More & More is in the works, truly something nobody on this planet needs) and the girls then started saying their goodbyes as they moved into the last group of songs:
- 21:29, a terrible ballad
- Turn It Up
- Cheer Up
And that’s it. Honestly a disappointing setlist, no “Knock Knock”, no “Likey”, and a few other fan faves such as their debut “Like Ooh Aah” and the divisive but fun and iconic “Signal” were obviously also missing. The worst thing about this is that they easily would have had time to squeeze in all of those songs had they just trimmed down the talk breaks a little.
Oh but then the screen alerted us to the fact that there was going to be a special “encore”:
Twice’s “surprise live”? Won’t be available on Video On Demand? Exclusively for us? Gosh, better stay tuned, surely they’ll trot out some of their big hits for the encore!
The screen played a loop of dance practice videos and photoshoots and invited viewers to leave questions, which bummed me out as I knew that meant I’d have to sit through at least one more boring, annoying talk break as the group answered them. I did my best to make it interesting anyway:
While I waited… and waited… and waited… I don’t ever remember any encore at any concert I’ve ever been to in my life taking quite this long.
After what felt like about half an hour, Twice reappeared and answered those questions, and of course, as k-pop groups always do, they picked only the most boring “what’s your favourite colour” type questions to answer. I’m not even joking, there was not one but two questions about favourite colours. Then they made a heart shape and fucked off for good.
Yes that’s right, after that disappointing setlist with obvious gaping holes, we got an exclusive encore with no fucking songs in it.
Of course, judging a Twice concert, or any big k-pop concert, on the actual musical content is probably missing the point a little for many. While they do definitely have some great songs, with any large k-pop group the songs are really just a conduit for the real deal – building the relationship between the performer and their audience, and selling the idol to the fans so then the company can then on-sell the fanbase-power of the idol. The importance of this relationship was constantly stated again and again in talk breaks, as we were constantly told that:
- Gosh we’re so terribly anxious about this big gig, I mean it’s not like we’re pros at this who have been doing this shit for years or anything
- But since your love means so much to us, we feel better now that we’re here with YOU our FANS who make us feel HAPPY and UNITED
- So therefore you HAVE to keep loving us so we can continue to make great memories and stay together forever
This isn’t really a criticism of Twice themselves, or their fans, just an observation of how the whole k-pop marketing machine works, and how this is eerily highlighted in an event like this one. K-pop fans who spout progressive hashtags and performatively rail against corporate interests on social networking are super-quick to turn around and become hyper-capitalists when it suits them, dispensing free marketing advice at k-pop companies plus buying all their Candybongs, and it’s testament to the religious-cult like power of the machine that fans feel able to do this so uncritically. JYP has really perfected the process of selling people by selling music, and watching the endless letterboxed windows of fans gleefully staring at their webcams made that abundantly clear above all else.
But hey – I’m not above it, far from it. So I guess I should join in and say that although I’m Jeongyeon biased, Dahyun was the night’s outstanding visual for me.
Like seriously, I might have to re-do my bias list soon and put her in front.
Even if some of the shit she was saying onstage was actually fucking insane barking mad like what the fuck, woman.
So, was it a successful concert? I have no idea. I enjoyed most of what little music that I got, especially the songs that were changed musically from the album versions. I didn’t really enjoy the time-wasting talk breaks, which were the usual ingenuine k-pop style interactions which I can tolerate in small doses, but these felt like they took up about 40% of the whole show. The wall-of-fans aspect and fan interactivity however was creepily fascinating, certainly not an effective replacement for the buzz of a live audience, but a different beast entirely that certainly added a weird dimension. It didn’t really feel like watching a real concert, more than a very well-put together live performance video, but I think people appreciated the effort to do something like this at all, and so did I (apart from saying that their in-person concerts got cancelled plus a couple directives to “stay healthy” the girls avoided referencing COVID altogether). Plus, it was a hell of a lot cheaper than a live concert, I think it worked out to about $30AUS, so I can’t complain about it too hard. Just do some more songs next time, and talk less, and we’re good. If nothing else it was certainly a success purely on a technical level, as apart from the zombie fans, everything looked and sounded more or less as it should. Some more screencaps of some of that impressive staging:
So that’s that! Will I do more online concert reviews? Remains to be seen, but Kpopalypse shall return!