LOS ANGELES, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Singing about holding on to the day when he reunites with a past love, Pentagon's main vocalist, Jo Jin-ho, reached the highlight of "Till ..." belting out a powerful high note toward the end.
Yeo One (real name Yeo Chang-gu) followed by delivering a yearnful line about expecting the best from that day, unexpectedly piercing the air with a fist pump and shouting out "LA!" as if asking the audience to sing along and generating a few laughs from the crowd.
Just a few hours before the second-to-last stop on the U.S. leg of their Prism world tour in Los Angeles, the members talked about wishing for their fans -- known as Universe -- to see a different side to the Pentagon they know from their music videos and social media.
"I personally think we're especially charming when we're just goofing around and having fun backstage. But on stage, we're more cool and charismatic," Yeo One told UPI through a translator. "But I'd like fans to see more of our relationship with each other and the more human side of us -- when we're just being silly."
In contrast to the uplifting, brighter songs for which the group is known, the ballad unit's rendition of "Till ..." was a rare moment of solemnity during the K-pop group's first full concert in Los Angeles.
Throughout the rest of the show, band members kept playfully poking fun at Yeo One's "LA!" exclamation, with Hui (Lee Hoe-taek) and other members recreating it when talking to the crowd, and Kino (Kang Hyung-gu) and Yang Hong-seok shouting it out during later songs.
While intentional or not, a sillier, more human side to Pentagon is exactly what fans got at the show. And though the nine-piece group (though Yan An skipped out on the tour due to health issues) doesn't want to catalogue itself under just one concept or music style, it was the charming silliness of their 2018 track "Shine" that finally made them stand out from the hundreds of idol groups active in South Korea. And it became the group's signature song, which became its breakout hit.
Coming from Cube Entertainment, home to groups like (G)I-dle and BTOB, Pentagon debuted in 2016 with 10 members. However, the band went through a lineup change last year, with Yan An sitting out some of the most recent promotions and comebacks due to his health and E-dawn (Kim Hyo-jong) leaving the group and company after confirming his relationship with label mate and K-pop superstar Hyuna.
And although E-dawn played an important role in the group's sonic identity, Jin-ho, Hui, Ko Shin-won, Hong-seok, Yeo One, Adachi Yuto, Kino, Jung Woo-seok and Yan An have carried on, releasing their now-signature fun and at times eclectic music.
Though Pentagon started out with singles made by other producers like most K-pop groups, the members were involved in the lyricism and arrangement of album cuts from the start.
With time -- and writing hits for the second season of the survival show Produce 101 and the group that came from it in 2017, Wanna One -- Hui and rappers Woo-seok,Yuto and former member E-dawn, began shaping for themselves what Pentagon's sound would be. They started off with "Like This," "Runaway," and then "Shine."
"The fact that we make our own music is a strength in that we can show off our own colors. We're able to keep making our music because many fans have liked seeing that natural and genuine side of us," Hui said. "Our goal is to create music that can distinguish us as a group, show off our colors and define who Pentagon is."
"Who Pentagon is" isn't something the group is rushing to determine.
"It's hard to define ourselves with one concept because we'll make the songs that go in the album, and as you can tell, they're all so different. But they're all made and performed by us. They're all a part of our world," Yeo One said.
Pentagon's music is best understood within a spectrum. On one end, there's the innocent, boyish vibe from songs like "Pretty Pretty" and "Naughty Boy," and on the other there are more experimental sounds with stronger concepts like in "Can You Feel It" and "SHA LA LA." The powerhouse ballads on the album cuts fall somewhere in between.
During the show and the interview, group members explained the metaphor and reason behind the name of the first world tour: Prism.
"When we come together and the light shines through, you can see various colors. So rather than expressing ourselves in one particular way, we'd like people to be able to listen to our different genres of music and still know, 'Oh, that's Pentagon.' I think that's the kind of group we are," Yeo One said.
The group's latest release, the quirky sing-songey "Humph!," falls in the brighter range. Co-producer Giriboy brought in a chill hip-hop edge that hadn't been explored in Pentagon's discography. And although the group had been on a roll of self-produced singles for the last couple of years, it recruited the rapper to throw a new perspective into the mix.
"We do always make our own music, but we wanted to do something different for every album. And while we are continuously creating and improving, I think it's a good opportunity to be able to grow through receiving help and through collaborations, so we came to Giriboy, and he gladly agreed. We decided to collaborate in an effort to keep changing and evolving our music," Hui said.
For Pentagon, the dynamic with a self-produced song versus one that members didn't work on is different. While Yuto believes the group can express itself and show its colors in a more effective way on songs members worked on, Kino thinks that it comes down to understanding the musical direction.
"We know what we do best, so we're able to show that, whether it be in the lyrics, performance, the melody and so on," he said about songs members create. "But with songs that someone has made for us, it's harder to highlight our strengths."
As K-pop evolves and becomes more globalized, the concept of the self-producing idol group is slowly starting to become somewhat of a norm. Having tried both approaches, Pentagon has begun to thrive in the scene during the last couple of years as the band has increasingly taken more creative control of its music and how members want to present themselves to the world.
After having six morning McMornings and visiting Millenium Park in Chicago and the Empire State Building in New York City, Pentagon headed to Latin America to continue the "Prism" world tour, and will go to Asia and Europe thereafter.
"Our biggest goal is for more people in the world to get to know us and our music, and we want people to be able to listen to our music, no matter the style, and recognize that it's us," Yeo One said.
"Second, this is a goal that's been solidified as we've been doing this world tour, but we want to put on even greater performances in even bigger venues with even more fans."