Four-piece co-ed group KARD fired up an already overheated London when they stopped off in the city for their Playground World Tour – organised by leading tour operators ROOT Company and OfficialKEvents.

KARD continues to exist as an anomaly in the K-pop scene, where success has rarely (if ever) been granted to mixed gender acts. But something about KARD continues to resonate with fans, and catching the group live is a surefire way to understand why first-hand.

Kicking off their major return to London since their last visit in 2017 with an explosive triple whammy – their latest title track “ICKY”, bass-heavy B-side “Without You” and 2022’s “Ring the Alarm” – the opening sequence had audiences in the palm of the group’s hands from the get-go, effortlessly guiding the audience’s excitement into a one-two punch of their debut tracks “Hola Hola” and “Oh NaNa”.

Splitting off into solo stages, Somin and Jiwoo’s “Fxxk you” was a standout moment from the show, in a blazing performance oozing with the duo’s sensuality which classily captured the flirtatious nature of the track. 

Breaking up the first and second act with a mini documentary-style video, the insightful clip was a refreshing moment which offered candid peeks into KARD preparing for the tour, alongside personal thoughts from the band about staying together as KARD and the feelings they faced when renewing their contracts – it felt like a raw moment of honesty in K-pop’s overarching pursuit of perfection, giving audiences a rare insight into the true thoughts, feelings and discussions groups have behind the scenes.

Returning to the stage after a costume change, the second half of KARD’s set prioritised fan-favourite songs from their tropical dance/hip-hop catalogue as they delivered non-stop energy and nailed every routine for signature KARD hits like “Don’t Recall” and “Dumb Litty”, as well as driving the crowd wild with “GUNSHOT” and “Bomb Bomb”; meanwhile, the inclusion of the break-up anthem “Break Down” allowed KARD to show off their multifaceted sound and impressive live vocals. 

Coming back for a three song encore, KARD strangely closed the set with a repeat performance of “ICKY” – however audiences did not seem to mind at all and were perhaps giving even bigger energy levels than they did at the start. 

Throughout the show, it was clear that KARD has worked tirelessly over the years to improve their stage presence and develop an intricate understanding of how to engage crowds. From top-tier audience banter to questions about when fans had discovered the group and expressing lots of genuine love and admiration for London, the group’s dorky English accents and curiosity about food spots to try in the capital went down a treat. It felt like KARD genuinely wanted to connect with and get to know the crowd, as if they had come to see us. 

Promising to play in London again soon and letting audiences know that they are planning their comeback, fans will hopefully not have to wait so long next time to catch KARD again – and, by the sounds of it, will have lots of new music to learn in the meantime.  

Photography by Megan Wales-Harding.

KARD PlayGround World Tour – Live in London Gallery and Setlist (September 6th, 2023)

  1. ICKY
  2. Without You
  3. Ring the Alarm
  4. Hola Hola
  5. Oh NaNa
  6. Fxxk you (Somin & Jiwoo duet)
  7. LIE / Broken Me (BM Solo)
  8. Been That Boy (BM & J.Seph duet)
  9. RUMOR
  10. Don’t Recall
  11. Break Down
  13. Bomb Bomb
  14. CAKE
  15. Dumb Litty
  1. Ride on the wind
  3. ICKY (Reprise)

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