Jack Gorlin

When CL announced her first North American solo tour for the fall, many fans wondered what to expect given the timing. The singer-rapper had just released her first full-fledged U.S. single "Lifted"—which recently became a Billboard Hot 100 hit—and had done a few features, but seemingly not enough for an entire concert. Luckily for ticket holders, the Hello Bi+ches Tour kickoff on Oct. 29 in New York City brought a set that spotlighted CL's versatility as a performer and gave an exciting preview of what she's capable of on her own.

Despite this being her very first solo concert, CL surprisingly greeted the sold-out Hammerstein Ballroom saying, "I'm CL of 2NE1." No, the singer hasn't forgotten her K-pop girl group roots nor from where her initial fanbase sprouted. She opened with 2NE1's debut single "Fire," blasting into a slew of the band's bangers as she vamped around the stage in a long latex coat, black leather leotard and tall black boots. 

The show could be divided into three segments, with the first two parts focused on CL's seven years with 2NE1 and the final portion based around her new solo work. Along with "Fire," the opening section brought the group's most-well known songs like "I Am the Best" and "I Don't Care," plus deeper album cuts like "Scream" off 2014's Crush album. While CL's main role in 2NE1 was lead rapper, she handled all the different parts of their songs. She proved she's been clearly working on her vocals as her roars filled the theater, impressively belting through more challenging cuts like "Come Back Home" and "Gotta Be You." 

CL further demonstrated how she's embracing her singer side during the ballad-focused, second part of the concert where she handled the tender side of 2NE1's discography. She stood with just a microphone to belt out the acoustic "Lonely," which highlighted her raspy-yet-powerful delivery. Meanwhile, moments where CL nailed the high notes in the chorus of "Missing You" or the ad-libs for "If I Were You" further solidified her vocal chops, with the only real awkward moment coming for the "I Love You" performance. She seemed unsure how to act onstage to perform the melancholy mid-tempo turn-up.

But that moment of awkwardness quickly melted away as we moved into Part 3, which meant full-on CL mode. The mood changed instantly as the audience was treated to the unreleased, full-length video of her buzz track "Hello Bitches" that boasted so many looks that Nicki Minaj would salivate and would instantly convert any bar of pop fans into full-blown stans.

Jack Gorlin
Jack Gorlin

"Okay GBZ's," CL told the crowd, specifically addressing her fanbase. "It's our time." In a green-jacket-dress-combo and thigh-high cowboy boots, CL looked more confident than ever plowing through her Korean solo single "The Baddest Female" and her Diplo collab "Doctor Pepper." Next came "Dirty Vibe" as she delivered her standout verse on the Skrillex tune while her backup dancers twerked and turned up harder than ever.

Moments like CL doing the cry-baby dance move during "MTBD" indicate how things may change for the singer-rapper as she moves away from her fierce-yet-safe K-pop persona. But other moments, like when she had the entire theater sing along to the final line of "Hello Bitches," which counts down in Korean before screaming expletives ("Ha-na / Dul / Set... Bitches!"), show that CL is still a star unlike any America has yet to encounter. And with technically just one single to her name, the strong showing—never mind the fact that it was sold out, even—predicts bigger things on the horizon.

CL's Hello Bi+ches Tour continues through November. Watch the star explain her new single "Lifted" below:

Setlist:

Fire
Can't Nobody
Scream
I Am the Best
Come Back Home
I Don't Care (Reggae Remix)
Gotta Be You
Falling in Love (Remix featuring elements of "Murder She Wrote")
Lonely
Missing You
If I Were You
I Love You
The Baddest Female
Doctor Pepper
Dirty Vibe
MTBD
Hello Bitches
Lifted

After that, watch CL explain how she takes such perfect selfies: