I know I’m late to the party here but after a week of fighting off colds and celebrating birthdays and holiday prepping, I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down a write. (It’s a travesty, I know, but sometimes life happens, even for life-less zombies.) Still, I decided I couldn’t really pass up the chance to recount the memories I made while attending CL’s recent concert here in Chicago. I mean it’s not every day the Baddest Female makes an appearance in your city and when she does, it feels kinda wrong not to say anything about it. So here goes… A summary of my adventures of an unforgettable evening in Chicago with a handful of fantastic friends and CL.
Now I know what you might be thinking… Why in the world would I go to see CL when girl groups don’t usually rank high on my list of to-die-for K-Pop favorites? Well, the answer is really quite simple. I may not be the biggest fan of girl groups in general but a handful of my closest friends are, so when CL announced Chicago was one of the stops of her North American tour, you can bet your sweet bippy, they were more than a little excited. Being the easily excited, K-Pop loving zombie that I am, it didn’t take much work, on the part of my friends, to convince me that going to see CL was something I just had to do and before I knew it, a ticket was purchased and plans were set. (Yeah, I know, I’m kind of a push-over but hey, what zombie in her right mind would ever pass up an opportunity to spend quality time with friends and catch a concert at the same time??? Not this one, that’s for sure!)
By the time the day of the concert arrive, I was just as excited about seeing CL as my friends. In part because I was genuinely excited about seeing one of Hallyu’s brightest stars in person and in part because I hadn’t had a chance to get out and be an actual adult in WAY too long. (Hey, just being honest here.) Braving rush hour traffic, the 2-hour trek into the heart of the City was tedious at best but meeting up with my friends in Chinatown before the concert made the trip totally worthwhile. Meeting at the K-Pop Store of Chinatown, my friends took our time browsing the merch while we chatted with the store’s owner, the ever-fabulous and dearly loved, Ms. Ko. Catching up on months of life and all the latest K-Pop news, time passed in a flash and before I knew it, it was time to brave traffic once again, and head for the Chicago Theater. Lucky for us, the worst of the rush hour traffic had dissipated while we were in the store and the trip downtown was a breeze. Finding parking, however, was a bit trickier (as it always is when you’re downtown) but we managed to find something about a block from the theater (a feat worthy of celebrating, to be sure).
Surrounded by my most wonderful friends, the short walk to the theater passed in a blink, the excitement building as we wound our way through the crowded streets of the bustling city. There’s something about being in the heart of the city that always makes me excited. I don’t know if it’s because most of the time I spend in the city revolves around concerts or if it’s just the naturally infectious buzz of the city, but whatever it is, I was feeling it that night. Rounding the corner, the dazzling lights of the Chicago Theater illuminated the impressive throng of fans who had gathered under the dancing lights of the marquee. Joining the throng of fans waiting for the venue doors to open, I couldn’t help but think to myself that there really couldn’t be a more fitting place for CL to make her Windy City debut.
Once inside, my friends and I easily found our seats and immediately we fell into the type of conversation you can only have with fellow K-Pop loving friends. We squeed over the awesomeness of our seats (which were pretty darn awesome, considering we opted for cheaper seats) and squeed even harder over biases. We talked and laughed and sang along as 2NE1 and CL music videos played on the giant on-stage screen. It was while 2NE1’s “Falling In Love” MV was playing that I had an exceptionally fangirly moment that caused my friends to die of laughter. Somehow I’d forgotten that Hong Jong Hyun and Lee Soo Hyuk were in that video so when they showed up out of the blue, well… Let’s just say I had a bit of a moment and leave it at that.
Though the show was supposed to start at 8 pm, CL didn’t make her appearance on-stage until 8:30 which, sadly, is pretty typical for K-Pop concerts here in the States. I suppose there could have been some who were upset by this delay but I wasn’t one of them. I was having too much fun with my friends to be bothered by much of anything. For me, the moment CL made her appearance, time no longer mattered anyway so there was no point in being upset.
Breaking the evening into three sets, CL opened the night with a collection of high-energy 2NE1 hits, including: “Scream,” “Fire,” “I Don’t Care,” “Gotta be You,” “Come Back Home,” and the ever-popular, “I Am the Best.” With a live band and a handful of backup dancers, CL lit up the stage, her high energy and powerful vocals bringing the entire house to their feet, myself included. Singing and dancing along, I let myself be as carried away by CL’s performance as my friend around me and had an absolute blast.
With the crowd sufficiently hyped, CL slowed things down for the second set, giving her a chance to really showcase her vocals as she performed some of 2NE1’s softer ballads. With nothing but her band and a microphone, CL wowed us all with renditions of “Lonely,” “If I Were You,” “Missing You” and “I Love You” that proved she is far more than just another girl group rapper. While it may seem kind of shallow to stop for a second to talk about CL’s wardrobe, I really can’t write this without saying something because her outfits were absolutely stunning, especially the one she wore during this slower set. It was such a regal ensemble, with fur and beads and lace, and it draped so perfectly around her when she stood and billowed behind her when she walked, it made you think that yes, CL really is the queen of K-Pop. (I actually spent a lot of time that night, wishing I had both the confidence and the body to rock all of CL’s outfits, but this particular outfit was my favorite so you’ll have to pardon me as I sit here and drool over the memories for a moment…)
Okay, I’m back…
Bringing the energy in the room back up, CL wrapped up the evening with a set that featured both her Korean and English solo work. With tracks like “The Baddest Female,” “Dirty Vibe,” “Doctor Pepper,” “Hello Bitches” and “Lifted” in the mix, CL took the crowd from excited to ecstatic. Closing out the evening on such a high note could only lead to one thing… A roaring demand for an encore which CL was only too happy to answer. Returning to the stage for another round of “Lifted,” CL left us all buzzed on a concert high that would last for days.
On such a high, it would have been impossible for my friends and I to part ways, so we didn’t. Instead we went back to Chinatown to grab dinner and relive all our favorite moments of the evening. The general consensus among us was that all of CL’s outfits were to die for (See, I wasn’t the only one drooling!), her performance was stellar, and the show was far too short. (Which, with a total running time of 90 minutes, is kinda understandable.) Even with a shorter set than we would have liked, we all agreed it had been a concert worth attending and I was very grateful to my friend for insisting I go with them as we all walked away with memories that will last a lifetime.