2023 is shaping up to be a busy year for the girls of aespa.
Following the May release of the K-pop group’s third mini album, My World, the quartet — consisting of Karina, Giselle, Ningning and Winter — announced its first ever global tour, which will see them making stops across the United States, Latin America and Europe later this year. To warm up for the trek, the girl group hit the main stage at the Governors Ball Music Festival at New York City’s Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Saturday (June 10) and delivered their biggest hits, despite being short one member.
Prior to aespa’s Gov Ball performance — a history-making feat as they are the first K-pop act to ever grace the festival — the group’s management company SM entertainment shared a statement with MYs (the group’s fan name) regarding Giselle’s lack of attendance at the festival.
“We are sorry to inform aespa’s US fans that Giselle will not be able to join the group for their upcoming Governors Ball performance due to health issues,” the statement read.
Soldiering on, Karina, Ningning and Winter commanded the stage with their inimitable presence, opening up their set with several nods to the group’s extensive and intriguing lore. Naevis, the AI system that helps the girls’ digital avatars appear in the real world, leads the intro before the trio kicks things off with an energetic performance of “Girls” complete with fiery pyrotechnics to pump up the crowd.
Read on to learn about the best moments from aespa’s Governors Ball debut performance below.
For those who were unfamiliar with aespa before seeing them at Governors Ball on June 10, Savage EP opener “ænergy” served as the perfect introduction to the group while continuing to hype up the crowd. The song offers a more detailed look regarding aespa’s role within the SM Cinematic Universe, while prompting fun call and response moments from the crowd.
“Life’s Too Short”
Some fans in the crowd lamented Giselle’s absence from the performance, but Karina, Winter and Ningning made sure to give a subtle nod to their fellow girl group member during sentimental number “Life’s Too Short,” the act’s first single in English. As the girls passionately sang the track, screens onstage showed fun group shots featuring Giselle as if to say she was at the performance in spirit.
“Hold On Tight”
Though technically not a track within aespa’s discography, “Hold On Tight” — which originally appears on the Tetris movie soundtrack — the trio whipped out the song, a fitting inclusion for a festival. The track’s thumping synth instrumentation with nods to disco go the crowd moving rigorously to the rhythm before transitioning into the bigger career singles.
Singles Trio: “Next Level,” “Black Mamba” & “Spicy”
The final three tracks of aespa’s 45-minute set saved the best for last, as the girls took audience members through a brief journey of their most popular singles from past to present.
Where “Hold On Tight” pumped up the crowd, “Next Level” kept the good vibes going as the girls hit the track’s signature and memorable choreography, much to the delight of MYs in attendance. Fans were then transported back to aespa’s 2020 debut single “Black Mamba,” which formally kicked off their careers in K-pop and cemented them as a force to be reckoned with. New single “Spicy” — which peaked of No. 2 on the South Korea Songs chart — closed out the set and showed that despite being without one member, aespa’s stage presence and catalog has the strength to carry the main stage at a music festival.