Anime conventions are everywhere. On any given weekend there is one going on somewhere in the United States. Slowly, Kpop conventions are also starting to become more noticeable and gaining popularity. If you ask a K-pop fan about conventions the one that probably pops into their head is K-con held in California. With roughly 30,000 people in attendance last year, it is easily the largest Hallyu wave focused convention in the United States. Featuring fan panels, contests and a star studded 2-day concert series it draws people from all over the country to see some of the hottest artists currently on the Korean airwaves. Last year VIXX, BTS and G-Dragon were among the performers at the event.
Kpopcon USA saw its inaugural event last year, butted up against the Block B concert in Miami the day before. Focusing on fan panels and events, the new convention doesn’t have the same big name performers as its west coast predessor but promises to grow with each year. This year it will be held on June 19-21, expanding into a three day event at the Miami Airport Convention Center. More information on the convention can be found on their website at: http://www.kpopconmiami.com
The international music festival, South by Southwest (SXSW), is held annually in Austin, Texas. This year, the conference will take place from March 17-22 and K-Pop will once again be featured during the K-Pop Night Out showcase. K-Pop Night Out continues to reveal the diversity and appeal of Korean music to fans all around the world. On March 19 (Thursday) at 7:00pm, K-Pop musicians such as Epik High, Crayon Pop and Hitchhiker will perform at the Elysium Club in Austin, Texas. A variety of additional Korean musicians such as EE, Asian Chairshot, Eastern Sidekick, The Barberettes, and SU:M will perform, introducing Korean hiphop, dance, rock and even Korean traditional music to a global audience.
Epik High is a hiphop group formed in 2001, and their music is widely enjoyed by general audiences and hardcore music fans, for their poetic and artistic lyrics. Crayon Pop rose to stardom with their hit song ‘Bar Bar Bar’ and is acknowledged as one of the most creative female groups in Korea. Hitchhiker (Choi Jin-woo) is a composer-turned-DJ, who used to be affiliated with one of the representing entertainment companies in Korea: SM Entertainment. Both of the music acts were invited to the festival after individual screenings.
Hitchhiker is a producer who composed hits for SM’s musicians, such as BoA’s ‘Game,’ TVXQ’s ‘I don’t know,’ Super Junior’s ‘A-Cha,’ Girls’ Generation’s ‘Show Show Show!” and EXO’s ‘My Lady.’ He also produced Brown Eyed Girls’ ‘Abracadabra,’ and INFINITE’s ‘Come Back Again’ in addition to many other hits. Hitchhiker is expected to perform at his first live DJ show during K-Pop Night Out at SXSW, as well as debut his new single.
SXSW was first launched in 1987 (www.sxsw.com). Every year, over 2,000 music groups perform SXSW. In addition, over 20,000 music associates from all over the world participate in this largest music festival in the world. In recent years, participants have expanded beyond music to the media industry, such as the film and interactive industries.
A new convention hitting Toronto, Canada is the Toronto Kpop Con. Headlining this first year event is Kpop artists NU’EST. The one day event will be May 2 and already had Canadian kpop fans buzzing with excitement. Some glitches in announcing the band and with ticket sales caused things to be a little rickety in the beginning, but everything has been full speed ahead since then.
As K-pop becomes more popular, there is no doubt that the number of conventions across the United States will also increase. There is no telling if they will be as successful or as popular as K-con yet, but with the increasing number of bands performing concerts in the US now, the number of fans of the genre has been growing as well as it becomes more well known. It could mean that in the future, Kpop conventions could be as plentiful as anime conventions.