CL Brings Immense Energy to London’s Village Underground

Who is CL? It is hard to describe her in one word – to the majority, she is a queen of K-pop, to some she is the ultimate Korean Hip-Hop gem. I don’t think I want to put her in any sort of category as CL tends to be versatile when it comes to her music. 

CL debuted and rose to fame in 2009 when she became a member of a K-pop girl group, 2NE1, with the artist making her solo debut in 2013 with The Baddest Female. Although 2NE1 has now disbanded, CL pursued her career by releasing singles Hello Bitches (2015) and Lifted (2016). With first-rate music arrangements and high-quality rapping, CL became the third Korean artist to place onto the Billboard Hot 100. In 2019, she released a solo EP project entitled In the Name of Love. And this year, she returned to the global stage with her first full-length album, Alpha. The more I listen to it, the more I think she defies genres altogether.

Image © Narine Chalabi for View of the Arts

Prior to CL’s one-off gig in London on November 30th, the artist attended The Fashion Awards where she truly showed that she is a fashion icon as well. While the gig was supposed to take place at XOYO, the event was eventually moved to the Village Underground in Old Street. I must admit, I was surprised that CL would perform in a standing capacity of 700 as she could have easily sold out a bigger venue. The evening of the concert was cold and windy, however, GZB (the official name of CL’s fandom) queued way ahead of the show. It was great to see that CL appreciated the commitment of her fans, and bought Domino’s pizza for those who were waiting in the line. When the doors opened, fans dutifully filled up the Village Underground from front to back.

Image © Narine Chalabi for View of the Arts

CL had two supporting acts: Xing Xing and Tommy Gold, both DJs. Each of the artists had 30 minutes to rock the crowd’s socks off. Xing Xing really knew how to entertain the crowd with a mix of old classics such as Destiny’s Child, Snoop Dog, and Missy Elliot – I shook those old hips of mine for a good 30 minutes. Tommy Gold had to work slightly harder for the audience to engage with him, however, the moment he played Nelly Furtado and Cardi B, people finally reacted to the music. 

Image © Narine Chalabi for View of the Arts

CL’s show was scheduled for 9pm, however, it took another 20 minutes before she came on stage. During that time, some of her songs were played via Spotify. As I am very particular about punctuality, I was slightly bored while waiting for CL. However, when you want to see a queen, you have to wait for a queen, right? 

Image © Narine Chalabi for View of the Arts

When the time finally came, and to the loud chanting of “CL, CL, CL”, the artist appeared on stage performing Dirty Vibes, a powerful track that she recorded back in 2014 alongside G-Dragon and Diplo. With some serious headbanging, CL barely touched the ground as she jumped from song to song, performing GZB and Dr. Pepper, followed by Lifted. The artist, on that night, was a woman of few words, letting the music speak for itself. CL rapped to tracks provided by Tommy Gold, and too many pre-recorded vocals for my liking. Although she is a really good performer, this method didn’t pack the punch of a live show the way I always wished CL would and could provide. 

Image © Narine Chalabi for View of the Arts

After greeting the audience, and thanking them for being there for her, she carried on with her energy-filled show by performing Chuck, Post Up, MTBD, and 5 stars. The use of pre-recorded vocals was quite obvious, and there were moments where the artist was not in sync with them. One has to understand that they should be like a great special effect in a movie; the best ones are the ones you don’t even notice. It doesn’t mean they devalued her performance, but we all know that she is capable of performing first-class shows! 

Image © Narine Chalabi for View of the Arts

Throughout the evening, CL seemed surprised by the love shown to her onstage. But you know, it’s hard not to love her. With a few singles and one full-length album under her belt, CL cemented her place in the Hip-Hop and K-pop game. And would I ever question her stage fashion? Absolutely not! Whatever she wears (it could even be a pillowcase), she will always look à la mode. Dressed in a funky outfit and some serious heavy-duty Balenciaga boots, CL carried on with the show by singing LLM, Tie a Cherry and Let It. Resounding screams from the audience launched her into yet another powerful round of songs, including my personal favourites: Spicy, Hwa, and 100Won.

Image © Narine Chalabi for View of the Arts

Although CL managed to perform 15 songs, the show felt short and rushed. I could hear from the crowd that they wished for it to be longer. Some even said that it felt like a pop-up (which according to the artist was a pop-up show) event rather than a concert. Yes, the show was short, but the entire experience was like a rush of adrenaline. You don’t often see stars of CL’s calibre in small venues. 

CL concluded the night with Hello Bitches, one of her most popular songs to date. Even though there were a few hiccups during the show, CL knew how to delight the fans not only with her rapping, but with her incredible onstage charisma. I am almost certain that I felt the floor moving that night. Next time, I want to see the queen in a bigger venue with a dancing crew onstage. 

Written by Maggie Gogler

Photos © Narine Chalabi

Image © Narine Chalabi for View of the Arts

View of the Arts is a British online publication that chiefly deals with films, music, arts and fashion, with an emphasis on the Asian entertainment industry. We are hoping our audience will grow with us as we begin to explore new platforms such as K-pop, and continue to dive into the talented and ever-growing scene of film, arts and fashion, worldwide.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Zharmaine says:

    As CL said it was a pop up show but still at least the Baddest Female gave London a bit of taste of her performance.

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