Every year at KCONKCON, it's absolutely necessary to watch the crowd responses to every group. In 2014, BTS was the newest group on the bill and less than three years later was playing sold-out stadiums in America. Meanwhile, standout performers from 2015 and 2016, Monsta X and Seventeen respectfully, are both launching their first U.S. tours this summer. At KCON 2017 New York presented by Toyota, it wasn't as clear who was the standout act was but instead was a healthy competition by three new boy bands.
NCT 127, SF9 and Up10tion all garnered a huge response from the crowd and found ways to stand out with adorable fan interactions and cover songs to help them make a major impression on East Coast fans. It's tough to say who ultimately will be the act to break out next in the U.S., but if you're putting bets on any act, these three are likely to be big winners.
NCT 127 might have been the boy band coming in with the most amount of hype behind them. Not only had the guys seen some U.S. chart success (their Limitless EP debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's World Albums chart), but the band was making the most of their East Coast debut by holding a Q&A and performance at the Williamsburg Apple store the following morning that sold out in minutes.
While NCT127 was already hot on everyone's radar thanks to the recent release of "Cherry Bomb," what stood out at the KCON NY stage was their cohesiveness. Not only did the nine members have outfits that coordinated perfectly, they move, sang and danced across the stage as if in the body of one single person. Their fast-paced, schizophrenic singles could have had the potential to drown out the young group, but it didn’t happen. Obviously, they understand each other in a way that seems very special and rare. Not to mention, the guys were clearly cracking each other up during an adorable section where members performed a fake proposal to an audience member. (Plus, sitting down with them earlier in the day, too, we could feel their electric excitement, and they seem to genuinely love what they’re doing.)
The second standout was SF9, the quickly rising dance-pop group from FNC Entertainment who also had their senior group CNBLUE in attendance. The ninesome was the youngest group on the bill, but clearly ecstatic about their East Coast debut, looking longingly and happily to the crowd who gave them some of the biggest cheers heard throughout the festival.
On the stage, SF9 totally sneak-attacked us with their charm and infectious energy. While they initially performed their set in dapper grey suits with a subtle flash of neon yellow, they came back out on stage to perform dance covers in a collection of funky, bright streetwear that was very fitting for covering EXO and BTS hits. They got to share a sincere, candid moment with the crowd during their proposal too as different members made punny jokes while professing their love to one lucky audience member. We giggled and then swooned watching them croon Bruno Mars' to the KCONer.
Up10tion made the most of their KCON moment by using it to test the waters for new single "Runner." The tropical-house song got an even larger response from the crowd as the guys wowed with intricate choreography through songs like "Attention" (with its quadruple kick move) and even a Broadway musical-inspired number.
The outfit also stood out for strong sense of individuality. The boy band was decked out in fresh outfits that ranged from checkered trench coats to gilded denim jackets to embroidered bomber jackets. The tight choreography continued to be their brightest moment though. With the creative and experimental formations sticking in viewers' minds long after the night was over.