Closing out the second night of KCON 2017 LA, GOT7 were hardly new faces to much of the crowd at the Staples Center earlier this month. After hosting multiple tours in the U.S. ever since starting out in 2014, the K-pop boy band is a local favorite, and lime green light stick-carrying fans known as IGOT7 (or Ahgases) were out in full support that night, cheering on the septet as they performed a handful of their songs to close the night.
This was GOT7's first time performing at KCON as a full-act -- member Jackson wasn’t able to attend when the group appeared at the Korean culture con and music festival in 2015 -- and it came amid their prepping for a new album. Meanwwhile different members have also been pursuing their own side projects, notably JB and Jinyoung's subunit JJ Project and Jackson with his first Chinese-market single, the nouveau riche swagger track “Papillon.”
Though they’re doing their own things, GOT7’s Jinyoung told Billboard that the alternate activities were new opportunities the members pursued while the band could “vamp up their style and take some time to prepare” for the next album, now that the act completed their Flight Log trilogy in March. “We are slowly starting to prepare for GOT7’s next album, so we hope that people will eagerly wait for it.”
While they have a loyal fan base and are able to headline a major stateside K-pop event, GOT7 is still relatively new as far as the industry goes: They started out in 2014 and remain extremely fluid when it comes to crafting music that fans will enjoy even more. The members' approachable demeanors have long appealed to K-pop’s diverse international audience, making them a favorite among stateside fans. But the bandmates exude a sense of humbleness when it comes to their music that belies their popularity and they're intent on proving their artistry. “Because we have our stakes in putting out an album under our names, we will take even more detailed care to make up for the areas in which we lack,” band leader JB said.
“Now, finally, we can start something new,” said BamBam. “And something better than we used to do before.”
While close-lipped on their impending music, Jackson teasingly told Billboard that their next musical style will be “really, really, really cute” while BamBam joked that the members would wear skirts.
GOT7’s gone down the cute path before, like with 2015’s “Just Right,” but the septet has moved away from that style and typically opts for dramatic dance bangers with hip-hop and R&B leanings, though each single has presented a new side to the group. Even JJ Project has stepped away from their previously youthful incarnation to return with a more mellow sound, emphasizing the group’s overall shift towards more mature musical concepts. “Through JJ Project, if GOT7 can explore another style, there’s a lot of satisfaction in that,” Jinyoung said. As for the duo, Jinyoung added that he and JB wanted to release music that contained “more of us,” resulting in the sentimental Verse 2 EP. "In order to not show an embarrassing side to our fans, we will work even harder."
Jackson also has been experimenting with his musicality, and hopes to break the generally bright image he’s built up as a popular television personality through solo projects in the Chinese market. “I’m just working hard as an artist, as a singer,” he said in the same breath as denying his popularity in China, despite topping the China V Chart for several weeks with “Generation2,” a song he made in collaboration with Pepsi. “Because I appeared in a lot of variety shows, that’s what I want to change up these days because as more variety shows that I attend, people might think that’s the only thing I know how to do, I’m capable to do."
With Sino-Korean tensions fraught and a multiple Chinese K-pop stars looking to the larger Chinese-language markets, having a member of a K-pop act promoting in China has opened up GOT7, and Jackson, to a great amount of criticism. Despite demands that he leave the group from naysaying fans, Jackson has publicly attested his loyalty to the act via Instagram, and the rest of the group members filmed a video in support of “Papillon,” reaffirming their support of his solo pursuits. “When we’re all together as GOT7, there’s such great synergy that it’s never awkward,” said Jinyoung, with Yugyeom adding that the members “feel most confident when all seven of us are standing on stage together.”
The seven men offered up a blend of that very confidence and a sense of humility as KCON 2017 LA ended with GOT7 standing together on the Staples Center stage and bowing one last time to the crowd with expressions of happiness and gratitude on their faces. It may be months, or years even, before they return to the States, but with new music on its way, it's likely American IGOT7s will be able to cheer on the next revamped rendition of GOT7 before too long.