On August 16, co-ed group KARD returned to Chicago for their third U.S. tour, Wild KARD, at the House of Blues. While the four members—BM, Somin, Jiwoo, and J.Seph—are no strangers to the Windy City, it was clear, from the moment the lights dimmed and the howling screams increased, that this performance could and would shake the table for KARD and the fans alike.

Act I: Old Favorites, New Confidence

“KARD is in Chicago!” rapper BM howled as the lights went up, revealing the group in all its glory. It was the moment everyone had waited for as they opened the show with KARD’s claim to fame, “Oh NaNa.” Although the group has always carried itself with swagger since appearing on the scene in 2016, the difference in confidence levels was starkly different.

Throughout the first set of the night, KARD started strong, playing classics from their early days to more current tracks, seamlessly weaving in and out of each dynamic number. From “Don’t Recall,” “You In Me,” and “Bomb Bomb,” the set list is stacked and brilliantly executed the group’s journey from rookies to seasoned performers. 

Each member’s distinctive personality was also displayed from the get-go as they fed into the crowd’s enthusiasm. BM was the fun-loving one, always ready to make the most out of his time on stage and keep the fans energized. Somin’s on-stage persona was effortlessly flirtatious and feminine—she embodied cotton candy sweetness with a pinch of sensuality. Jiwoo, the youngest of the bunch, exuded style and prowess as she cooly nailed the choreography. Finally, J.Seph, who recently completed his Korean military service, probably had the most visible transformation since the group’s first U.S. showcase in 2017.

Sporting a short haircut and eyebrow piercing, J.Seph’s lively presence (and acts of fan service) instantly shot through the roof the minute he stepped out. Eagerly waving to each person he made eye contact with, blowing kisses, sending playful winks—it’s evident this tour was something he had been anticipating for a long time, especially in Chicago.

As they ended the first set with fan-favorite, “Dumb Litty,” cheers erupted from the crowd, who shouted out their favorite parts of the song. At this point, excitement was at an all-time high, and it was already hard to see how the show could get any better; until it did.

Act II: Break It Down

The first few songs of the next set were all about showcasing KARD individually and in pairs. BM performed his latest solo singles, “STRANGERS” and “Bad Intentions,” Jiwoo sang a cover of “My Medicine” by The Pretty Reckless, and Somin and J.Seph partnered up to cover “Bam Bam” by Camila Cabello and Ed Sheeran. While each performance was captivating in its own way, it also allowed the audience to experience the members on a more personal level with styles that best represent their character and personality.

Although both BM and J.Seph are rappers and excel in hip-hop, BM was ultimately the one to showcase the genre during his solo stage. With maximum charisma, hype, and trendy dance moves, it’s no wonder he’s so likable and popular among K-pop fans across various fandoms.

Jiwoo, on the other hand, took on her alt-rock persona with conviction as she sauntered across the stage in “My Medicine.” Although the singer has yet to release an official solo track, it’s safe to say rock would be her calling. Lastly, J.Seph and Somin’s stage was as bright and summery as the Chicago weather that day—not a cloud in sight for either of them. 

One of KARD’s most admiring qualities is their tight-knit bond and how well they bounce off each other. J.Seph and Somin were one of the best examples of the night, with Somin praising her partner’s vocal skills as it’s rare to hear him sing. It’s moments like these that make it so easy to adore a group, even more than you did walking into the venue.

After the solo stages, the group went on to perform together again with B-side tracks from their latest album, Re:, and conducted the coveted volume level test with the Chicago audience. “We’ve been taking this [sound level meter] around with us every city of the tour,” BM announced as if he were a game show host. “And what it does is it measures the volume of the room.”

It’s a friendly competition the group started with this tour, specifically. The goal is to see which city can scream the loudest and earn the number one spot on KARD’s list of 2022 tour dates. As of August 16—before Chicago’s attempt—the top spot was held by Atlanta, which the Chicago crowd booed almost instantly. To BM’s amusement, he asked, “Even if it’s the same fandom?” 

They proceeded with the contest and within seconds, BM’s face said it all. “Atlanta hit number one with 126.3, and tonight, you guys hit 127.1 on the first try,” he said. But for Chicago, that wasn’t enough, so he offered a second attempt to further the gap between the Windy City and Atlanta. In the end, Chicago beat Atlanta’s score with 128.1—becoming the loudest U.S. city on the Hidden KARD tour (at the time).

After their next few performances, “Go Baby,” and “GUNSHOT,” the group gave their closing remarks on how they felt about this tour compared to the last. “I think in the previous tour, we were so in our own heads because of uncertainty and fear, but I feel like, on this tour, we’re really able to live in the moment,” BM stated. “That being said, don’t let your standards and ambitions cloud you and steal from you the gratitude of a beautiful moment.”

While Somin and Jiwoo expressed their gratitude for the support, J.Seph spoke of his love for the city in general. “Chicago is actually really familiar to me because one of my favorite musicals is Chicago,” he confessed. “When I was in the military and watching clips of [the musical], I used to wonder all the time what I would look and what my fans would look like if I return to Chicago.” He then ended with, “You guys are so much more beautiful than anything I could’ve ever imagined, and every single one of you is so precious to us.”

On that note, this segment ended with a performance of their latest single, “Ring The Alarm,” before the group bowed out.

Act III: The Encore and Finale of the Night

But in true K-pop fashion, the night is never over without an encore—or three. The members traded in their individualistic tops for the official Wild KARD tour tee, creating a more uniform look among the group. As they sang through one of their new songs, “Good Love,” “Ride on the wind,” and an encore of “Dumb Litty,” each of the KARD members interacted with the crowd more intimately than before. Grabbing fans’ phones to take selfies and videos, pouring out whole water bottles onto the first few rows, dancing and blowing more kisses, KARD had already won the hearts of new and old fans alike.

Truthfully, no one member stood out among the rest. The best thing about KARD is they each complement one another, bringing out the best in themselves as a whole and individually. And KARD has never felt more complete or whole as they did on this tour—they’re the ones worth showing up for.

Listen to KARD’s album, Re:, available on Spotify and Apple Music.

For more concert recaps, check out our recap of 2022 K-POP MASTERZ in Manila here!