KARD: Playground Oceania Tour 2024, Melbourne Pavilion, Melbourne, March 8th 2024 – K-Pop Live Review

After touching down in Melbourne for their exclusive fan concert back in November 2023, K-Pop group KARD have returned for their 2024 Playground Tour in Oceania.

The four-member co-ed group consisting of members BM, J.Seph, Somin, and Jiwoo, officially debuted under DSP Media back in 2017 with their mini album ‘Hola Hola’, have since released 6 EPs and experienced a wealth of popularity in South America. Now, KARD brings their unique flavour of Latin-inspired K-Pop back to Australia.

Their third stop on their Playground Tour after shows in Brisbane and Perth, KARD had fans flocking to Melbourne Pavilion on Friday night. Full disclosure, I am a long-time KARD fan (which you may have gleaned from my recent Top 10 songs list and review of the 2020 single album ‘Way With Words) so this show was a real experience for me. Waiting for my group photo, I was desperately trying to keep my cool (not super successfully, I might add). The energy in the room was positively giddy, and when the members walked out to deafening cheers, the energy became electrifying.

The stage at the Melbourne Pavilion venue was modestly sized, though not much of an issue for a group with four members. Lit up in glowing green, the venue had a large screen against the back wall of the stage with the tour name emblazoned across it, and the mismatched chandeliers hanging from the ceiling gave the venue a slightly gothic atmosphere. As KARD fans ‘Hidden Kard’ filled the venue, there was excited chatter, loud and enthusiastic that filled the room. Some fans even brought handmade signs and pickets with member names and tongue in cheek slogans like “BM make me wet” or “Marry me” on them. As the show started, the screen played clips from KARD’s library of music videos, displaying a welcome message to all in the room.

The quartet blasted out of the gate, opening their set with their latest title track ‘Icky’ and B-side ‘Without You’. The energy in the room and on stage was palpable, with member Somin even commenting that she danced so hard, she ripped the hem of her skirt!

Hidden Kard gave as good as they got, singing along to as many lyrics as they could in both English and Korean. As the group transitioned into their first talking “ment” and held their individual introductions, BM dubbed Australia “The land of sexy accents”. The co-ed K-Pop group was assisted through the talking portions by a translator despite BM speaking fluent English, likely to allow him time to rest in between performances, though he did help the translator by making small corrections and provided any missing context as his other members were speaking.

Unlike the last time they were here, the members had a day to explore Melbourne and had some beautiful weather to do it in, with Jiwoo informing everyone that she explored Flinders Street and attended the Moomba Festival at Birrarung Marr. it’s always exciting to hear when artists take the time to explore our beautiful city while on tour, and it’s especially nice to know that Jiwoo was able to do so before our heatwave rolled in.

Throwing it back to their debut era, KARD performed a string of early hits including ‘Hola Hola’ where both BM and J.Seph showed off their impressive b-boy moves, and ‘Oh Na Na’. Accompanied with tropical neon visuals, it really felt like the crowd was being transported back to 2017, before being brought back to to the present with Somin and Jiwoo performing their unit song ‘Fxxk You’ and the boys performing the rap heavy ‘Been That Boy’. The unit stages were also accompanied by BM performing two of his recent solo releases ‘Lowkey’ and ‘ATAP’, showcasing his raw sex appeal and the uncanny ability to blend his raps with smooth vocals and mesmerising dance moves.

As the group went off for a costume change, Hidden Kard were treated to a ‘making of’ clip where each of the members discussed their relationships with each other, their involvement in production, and their feelings about being on tour. Unique to this tour, the members followed this clip with a lucky draw activity where four lucky fans were picked at random from a ticket lottery to come up on stage, spin the ‘Wheel of Ickiness’ and win a prize.

The prizes ranged from photos, a morning call, to a sexy dance, and it was amazing! It was great to see that all patrons had an equal chance of being drawn regardless of ticketing tier. The members even took the time to ask each fan what their ideal prize would be and made sure that their chosen fan was comfortable with what they won. BM’s draw winner received a special bonus, having the whole concert hall sing her ‘Happy birthday’ which BM kindly recorded.

After the fun and games, KARD prepared to close out the show with an announcement that they were preparing for a new album, and fan-favourite songs were performed including ‘Cake’ and ‘Dumb Litty’. For their encore ‘Ride on the Wind’ and ‘Red Moon’ were played along with another performance of ‘Icky’ where fans performed part of the choreography in a challenge along with KARD. The whole Melbourne venue was bouncing and vibing, and Jiwoo even held her mic out to fans (including me) in the front row to sing along, while Somin took phones from the audience to record selfie videos.

After the show ended and the KARD members bid their goodbyes, some fans lingered for their purchased one-on-one snapshot photos with the member of their choice. Despite leaving without getting a snapshot, I left the show feeling content after having been treated to nearly two hours of bouncing moombahton and tropical house beats with four of K-Pop’s most underappreciated artists. From start to finish, the Melbourne concert felt like a party and every member visibly relished being on stage in front of their fans, especially J.Seph who was discharged from his mandatory military service in 2022.

Overflowing with talent and potential, KARD have been a group to watch for a while. As they venture into the next stage of their careers and prepare to release their next album in April, the KARD members can feel confident that if they were to return to Australia (hopefully soon), a bigger venue would no doubt be waiting for them.

Proudly presented by Box Live and DSP Media, KARD performed in Melbourne as part of their Playground Oceania Tour 2024 at Melbourne Pavilion on Friday the 8th of March, 2024. KARD also played in Brisbane on March 3rd at The Princess Theatre, Perth on March 5th at Metro City, and concluded their tour at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre on March 10th.
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All photography by Grant Alexander.

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