aespa Concert Review: Surprising, Spectacular Sights
aespa’s “SYNK : HYPER LINE” World Tour stop in Chicago was a visual marvel.
Many elements of aespa’s live show proved to be praiseworthy, but none more than its visual components. There were constant convergences between what stories unfolded on the screens and on the stage, thanks to a perfect pairing of technology and talent.
The Live Version of aespa’s Cinematic Universe
A video that played at the start of the concert corresponded to aespa’s ongoing music video narrative. The members entered the alternate dimension in which their “aes” (pronounced “eyes”), their virtual counterparts, live. Their dimension-crossing, backed by a dramatic instrumental, unfolded with an eye-popping texture. The images appeared to bend and spin, as if the audience was experiencing a cross between a roller coaster and a 3D movie! The action seemed to leap off the screens, and that same effect held while their aes took to the stage! The avatars, appearing as not exactly holograms but less flat than average 2D images, danced in sync with the human aespa members! The aes looked like they were standing outside of the screens, on stage behind them! It was a wonderfully surreal opening number, and making the “Girls” performance even more unpredictable was WINTER’s solo moment on guitar. From the start, it was obvious the audience was in for a strange but thrilling night!
Act I, in a Dream World
When their aes left, the human aespa members stayed in character, performing their superhero introduction song, “aenergy.” After that and “Savage,” a video interlude kept the story going. The last in a series of cryptic scenes featured the others gathered around KARINA, who fell asleep. Suddenly, smoke filled the stage, and KARINA was alone in the middle of it, appearing asleep amid colorful fog.
After KARINA’s transfixing song and dance, the vivid and ever-changing backgrounds kept the feeling of a fever dream strong. This portion of the show ended after another colorful smoke-filled performance (of “Lucid Dreaming”), this one as a group, and the stage abruptly clearing as they sang about making their “Dreams Come True.”
Act II, in the Real World
While the beginning section of the show told a story of superhuman adventures across several dimensions and levels of consciousness, the middle section focused on lighter and more relatable stories. WINTER sang a sweet solo song about nervously telling someone “I love you,” the group sang about living life offline and in the moment, and the dress code changed from elegant and dramatic to school-uniform-chic and casual summer attire. But despite the cutesy and sunny pivot, this part of the show still featured reminders that aespa’s virtual world is always closer than they think, and the literal magic of a fantasy world clearly inspired the background images.
Act III: Back in a Surreal World
aespa returned to a higher-concept adventure for the rest of the show. A video featuring more cryptic scenes ended with KARINA’s character trying to restart the clock, only to have the hourglass fall and break. Instead of getting more time to fulfill their mission, the girls had now entered uncharted territory. The fear of being stuck in another dimension came to life on the stage with more images that leapt off the screen, like the unsettling gaze of their ultimate foe, Black Mamba.
Having ended their story on an ambiguous and ominous note, aespa broke character for a two-song encore. They interacted with crowd members and posed for pictures while adorably singing “‘Til We Meet Again” and “ICU.” They also each said a few words about their gratitude for the fans and their time exploring Chicago, a nice reminder of the likable people behind the roles.
Room for Improvement
Although aespa translated their music video adventures to the stage in incredible, one-of-a-kind ways, transitions between chapters could have been smoother, a couple of songs seemed to be in the wrong sections for thematic continuity’s sake, and the videos would have been even more compelling if they had dialogue. Dialogue would also have helped persuade casual fans to grow more invested in their storyline. After all, with a show featuring seldom talk breaks and a gripping stage presence, aespa proved to have what it takes to deliver next-level escapism!
aespa pulled off an ambitious concept with their “SYNK : HYPER LINE” show. Its merging of virtual and tangible elements suited the overall theme of their music videos, and they represented that theme in innovative ways. This group proved to be worth getting invested in, because this is only their first world tour, and there are surely even more technologically-advanced and jaw-dropping performances in their future!
View the setlist below!
Menagerie (KARINA’s solo)
Dreams Come True
Lips (WINTER’s solo)
Life’s Too Short
Welcome To MY World
Don’t Blink (a yet-to-be-released track!)
2HOT4U (GISELLE’s solo)
Hold On Tight
Wake Up (NINGNING’s solo)
Salty & Sweet
‘Til We Meet Again
Watch show highlights below!
Catch up on past aespa-specific articles and podcast episodes here!
If reposting anywhere, please credit all images to 17 Carat K-Pop.