By Sam Bernitz
18 February 2018
“Fuck you means I love you at a Brockhampton concert,” shouted Kevin Abstract, “so everyone say fuck you.” The audience responded “FUCK YOU” with resounding energy. “Now everyone say I’m gay.” Everyone I could see shouted “I’M GAY” at the top of their lungs. Kevin stepped back into the flashing lights with the rest of Brockhampton and they played “JELLO” — one of the groups many recent hits. The building shook as the sea of people bounced up and down.
Brockhampton, the self-proclaimed “boy band” out of Texas, formed in 2015 after meeting on an internet forum for Kanye West fans. They released a mixtape in 2016 and their first three albums throughout the latter half of 2017. The trilogy (entitled Saturation I, II and III, respectively) lived up to its name and saturated the internet with a new type of hip-hop. The 14 person band features vocalists, producers, videographers, web developers and managers. The concert was just as non-traditional as their sound, capturing an angst in the age of the internet attitude that resonates with many millennials.
The first surprise of the night was the lack of an opener–Brockhampton decided they could warm up the audience on their own. The show began with a masked Ameer Vann walking out on stage wearing an orange jumpsuit over a white t-shirt. The crowd screamed and lurched forward as Kevin Abstract, Merlyn Wood, Joba, Dom Mclennon and Matt Champion walked out after him; they all wore the same orange jumpsuits and white t-shirts.
After the first song Kevin Abstract asked the crowd to clear a large circle and, when the beat dropped, “to go fucking crazy.” They played “STAR” and the moshing did not disappoint; within 45 seconds I was lying on the ground on top of two other people, with one person on top of me. The fans were nice enough and I was quickly pulled out of the pile of bodies, but the mayhem had just begun.
Despite the 48 songs the boy band has released in the last eights months, it felt like every audience member knew every lyric that was sung. Brockhampton encouraged the singalong, frequently cutting the music and letting the crowd scream the choruses.
Near the end of the show Kevin Abstract sat down and said there was no more music because he had something very serious to talk about, “Brockhampton is breaking up.” The crowd booed and Kevin laughed. “Now Matt Champion wants to tell you a joke,” clearly caught off guard Matt Champion told a strange improvised story about Dom wetting the bed and Merlyn drinking it. Most people did not laugh, but I was impressed with the spontaneity of the moment.
Next Bearface, the member responsible for some of the slower jams on the Saturation albums, came out and serenaded the audience with his disembodied voice and airy guitar. He started with “SUMMER”–the last song from Saturation II. The solo was a welcome break from the controlled bouncing, pushing and chaos that dominated the rest of the show.
After Bearface walked off, the other five jumpsuited vocalists came back on and played two more songs. Before leaving, Kevin Abstract asked the audience to boo them off stage. After a long sustained boo, I left drenched in sweat but smiling.
In the past six months Brockhampton has swept the internet with their new take on hip-hop. In their “Love Your Parents Tour” they are showing fans that their creative spirit is burning brighter than ever. If the boy band continues in their pursuit of stardom and innovation, Brockhampton will be a name to watch closely.