K-pop Superstars TWICE Take On Vegas

K-pop Superstars TWICE Take On Vegas

By: Crystal Bell
Apr 04, 2024

Everything looks brighter on the Las Vegas Strip, almost like it was dipped in liquid gold. Its glittering sidewalks pulse with electric energy; flashing marquees and neon lights cast an otherworldly glow on what is essentially a buzzing esplanade in the Nevada desert. Yet, on a Saturday night in mid-March, less than a mile from the chaos on the Strip, nothing outshone the nine members of TWICE as they turned Allegiant Stadium into their own sparkling playground.

The celebratory performance marked the group's final US stop on their Ready To Be World Tour. This encore show, titled Ready To Be Once More, brought them stateside for a victory lap more than seven months after the North American leg wrapped last summer. Beyond the sold-out stadiums and historic firsts — the first K-pop girl group to sell out a stadium show in São Paolo and the first girl group to headline a stadium in Australia, to name a few — the tour has been a testament to their global appeal and enduring popularity, solidifying their status not only as icons in the K-pop world but also as bona fide pop stars.

In the years since their 2015 debut, Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung, and Tzuyu have become the most prominent idols of their generation. Their evolution as a group has been marked by a refreshing blend of consistency and innovation, allowing them to maintain their signature sound while continuously pushing boundaries and exploring new musical territories. Early hits like "Cheer Up" and "TT" showcased their more playful, bubblegum-pop image, establishing them as masters of catchy hooks and bright, addictive melodies. TWICE earned a massive following in South Korea and internationally with their girls-next-door appeal and memorable point choreography. As their career progressed, so did their sound. Songs like "Alcohol-Free" and "I Can't Stop Me" mix different musical styles and mature themes, incorporating elements of synth-pop and shimmering R&B to reflect a more sophisticated and personal creative approach.

Their latest single, "One Spark," is an ode to their incendiary bond with heart-racing 808s and effervescent melodies. "It's our golden days," they sing, referring to this prosperous point of their story together. Last month, their six-song EP, With YOU-th, topped the Billboard 200 albums chart, becoming their first release to do so. In the sun-kissed video for the gleaming pre-release single, "I Got You," they weather a raging storm and sail off into the sunset together — a clear indication that these days, they're setting their sights on even bigger horizons.

It's easy to view the globe-trotting Ready To Be tour as their embarkation on this next chapter of their journey.

On stage, the group served their biggest high-energy bops and fiery B-sides alongside solo stages that better demonstrated their individual charms. Nayeon performed her fizzy single "POP!"; Jihyo set the stage ablaze with her song "Killin’ Me Good"; Sana writhed with graceful abandon to Dua Lipa's "New Rules"; dancer Momo took to the pole to lead a seductive version of Beyoncé’s “Move”; Chaeyoung strummed her guitar for an intimate performance of her self-penned “My Guitar”; Dahyun played piano for a gentle cover of Colbie Caillat's "Try"; youngest member Tzuyu turned Charlie Puth's "Done For Me" into a smooth dance number; Jeongyeon brought the energy with Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling!"; and most surprisingly, soft-spoken Mina unleashed her inner twerking baddie with Ariana Grande's "7 Rings."

Sitting in a hotel room in a baggy t-shirt and sweatpants, Mina tells PAPER, shyly, "I've been wanting to try the concept for a while now… I have a lot of fun with it."

In less than 24 hours, they'll take the stage at Allegiant Stadium in front of tens of thousands of fans, called Once. For now, they've huddled on the hotel bed in laid-back attire far from the restless hum of excitement on the Strip. Sana is running a few minutes late. (Later, she'll pop into the frame so stealthily it would appear as if she's been there the entire time.) It's a little after 6 p.m., and they're still jet-lagged from the 16-hour time difference between Seoul and Las Vegas. They'll head to the venue for soundcheck in a few hours. Right now, however, they're ready to talk — about the tour, their future goals, and finding strength in unity.

You've been in Las Vegas for less than 24 hours. Have you had time to do anything fun before your rehearsals tonight?

Jihyo: We're still very jet-lagged, but some of the members went out to shop and some of the members just stayed at the hotel to rest.

Momo: I bought a lot of clothes!

I went to your sold-out show at MetLife Stadium last summer, and now you're playing at Allegiant Stadium. How does it feel to be performing at these massive venues around the world?

Nayeon: One of the things that we like about performing on big stages like that is that we get to meet a lot more [of our fans] Once. And as much as the venues have gotten bigger, we're able to show bigger, cooler performances.

You've performed on a lot of stages in your career. Is there a difference between a stadium stage and other types of stages? Does it feel any different?

Jeongyeon: A lot of stadiums are outdoors, and we can't control the weather so sometimes it's hot and sometimes it's cold and sometimes it rains. Depending on the situation, the weather is always changing, and we like the fun of that. Performing in the rain can be a lot of fun for us.

How does the Ready To Be World Tour compare to your previous tours?

Dahyun: For this tour, we tried a lot of new things. We collaborated with a band to make new live arrangements for our songs, so musicality-wise it was a lot bigger. And each member has solo stages, so that was also very different and that was a first for us as well. Since we got to tour many more cities, we were able to see more fans, so we really liked that.

What's your favorite thing about touring?

Tzuyu: Through the tour, we're able to visit cities that we've never really been to in various countries. It's always nice to see our fans all around the world, and I like trying all the new food as well.

Have you tried anything in Las Vegas yet?

Jihyo: We want to visit the Sphere. It looks really cool.

I'd love to see a TWICE concert in the Sphere.

Jihyo: Me too!

You mentioned that this is the first tour in which you've added solo stages to the setlist. What was the reason behind that decision?

Jihyo: Previously, we were able to do unit stages, and while there were some solos in there we never really did individual stages on our own. So, since this is our fifth world tour, we wanted to try something new, and that's why we decided to do solo stages. It's nice to see everyone's individual colors.

How did you determine what you wanted to show or perform for your solo stage?

Jihyo: We did each talk about it with our company [JYP Entertainment], but we each ended up doing what we wanted to do for our solo stage. It was very much our decision.

Can you each tell me about bringing your stages to life on tour?

Chaeyoung: I had just bought a guitar back when we were still deciding on the solo stages. So as I was learning it, I came up with the idea for "My Guitar," which is a song about learning how to play and falling in love with the guitar.

Mina: I wanted to look cool on stage, but I also wanted everyone to sing along with me and have fun. So that's why I chose "7 Rings."

Jihyo: Right before the tour started last year, before the first concert, I was preparing my solo album, so I wanted to perform whatever B-side track for my solo stage. And then when my album was released, I started performing my title track on stage.

Jeongyeon: I wanted to do something humorous and something that made me feel like myself, and that's why she chose a song you can dance along with and have a lot of fun with.

Sana: I discussed this with the company first to see what I should perform. I wanted to do something where I could feel a lot closer to the fans after the performance. So I contemplated it a lot, and I ultimately chose "New Rules" because I think it shows a new side to me and what I am capable of.

Nayeon: "POP!" was my debut solo single, so I felt pretty strongly about performing it on tour since I had never performed it on stage with a live band.

Momo: I wanted to do something with the dancers and show a proper dance performance. I also wanted to try pole dancing on stage because I thought it could be fun, so I learned that for the tour. Since there was a deadline, I just really tried my best to make it happen.

Jeongyeon: She was a natural.

Dahyun: I love playing the piano. I feel a sense of peace and tranquility when I play, and even the sound of the piano is comforting to me. So I wanted to share that with the audience. I chose the song "Try" because I really liked the lyric where it says, like, you don't have to try so hard, you're precious just the way you are. I connected with the message of the song, and I felt like it connected with the message of Ready To Be. I wanted the audience to hear that as well.

Tzuyu: I talked with the dancers a lot as I was trying to think about concepts that I hadn't tried before. So I chose the song called "Done For Me," and I rearranged it into a Michael Jackson version of it. I wanted to do a cool performance on stage.

Do you watch one another's performances backstage?

Jihyo: It really depends on the day. Some members do watch them and then some members need to change in between, so they're backstage changing. And if we sweat a lot then we're fixing our makeup. But if we're watching them and looking at them through the monitor, we'll sometimes dance with them when they're performing on stage.

Is there anyone who surprised you the most with their solo stage?

Everyone: Mina!

Mina, where does that fire inside come from? You're like a different person when you're on stage.

Mina: Thank you. I've been wanting to try that concept for a while now, and the twerking was not part of the choreography initially. I was just joking around when we were practicing, and the dancers thought that it would be a great idea for the performance, so I just happened to bring that to the stage. Since I'm doing a stage that I've been wanting to do I just have a lot of fun with it.

What do you feel on such a big stage? Do you feel nervous? Adrenaline?

Nayeon: We try our best to just enjoy ourselves. We try to connect with the fans and meet their eyes as much as we can. And we try to look at each other when we're on stage, too. So I think we're just trying our best to just have fun.

Jihyo: As she said, there's not much of a way to shake off the nerves before a show, so we try our best to overcome [them] and just do it and just go for it.

How does performing now feel in comparison to performing five or six years ago? Do you feel more confident now?

Dahyun: The biggest difference we see is that five or six years ago we didn't have that many song choices, but now we have so many tracks to choose from so even if we want to perform a song sometimes we have to take it out because there's a limited amount of songs that we can perform.

Do you personally choose the songs on the setlist?

Jihyo: At first the company decides which kind of songs they want us to perform, and then we give our feedback and opinions. So we make the setlist together with the company.

Is there a favorite song you love performing on this tour?

Momo: I really love the part when Jihyo comes out during "Feel Special."

Jeongyeon: I like the encore roulette because I feel like some fans like that more than the main stages we've prepared. The reactions of our fans are kind of fun to watch.

How do you decide what songs are on the roulette wheel?

Jihyo: Usually, each member chooses what song they want to put on there. For this Las Vegas concert, since the new album's out, we put the new B-side tracks on there as well.

Is there an encore song you most look forward to performing when it comes up?

Jihyo: Dahyun's remix of "TT" is up there. Every time it comes up, we all look at Dahyun. And we all really like the song "Rollin'" so we look forward to that one too. We have a lot of fun performing it.

You've been all over the world on this tour, so I'm curious how touring and seeing more of the world influences your songwriting.

Dahyun: I get influenced a lot while we're traveling. So for the album With YOU-th, I participated in writing lyrics for "You Get Me." I wrote that while we were on tour in September, and I wrote about the feeling that I get when I look at our fans.

This year, you're celebrating nine years together as TWICE. Your album was a celebration of your friendship and your teamwork, but how has your relationship evolved over those nine years?

Sana: In nine years, we've done a lot together. We've released many albums and done many promos, and in that time, we've faced many challenges and difficulties together as well. So when those things happened, we leaned on each other, became dependent on each other, and really supported each other through it. I think that's the biggest change. We learned how to navigate these challenges together.

You're an inspiration to so many of your peers and so many of the younger artists in your industry. StayC recently rerecorded "Fancy" and Winter from aespa did the "Look At Me" challenge, and you were all very supportive on social media. How does it feel to be idolized by your peers like that?

Jihyo: We actually talked about this before the interview. We think it's kind of cool that our songs are already being remade, and we were like, "Wow, are we already like those kinds of artists?" We know what it feels like to be K-pop idols in Korea right now, so we know what kind of struggles they go through. We feel very proud of our peers. We're very supportive, and we want them to overcome just like we did. As much as we're being idolized, we also want to try harder so that we can maintain that status as well.

What's your goal for the rest of the year?

Tzuyu: We will try harder to continue to show various aspects of ourselves. We want to continue to grow.

Momo: Let's just have fun!

Photography: JYP Entertainment