It would be difficult to have followed popular music or popular culture over the last three years and not immediately recognize the name BROCKHAMPTON. Although you might not be able to recall any of their songs off the top of your head (yet), the seismic waves they’ve been detonating all over the music industry have been impossible to ignore.
The immense amount of success comes despite some interesting decisions regarding their musical framework. First of all, there are 13 total members in the current iteration of BROCKHAMPTON. Those members include; Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, Dom McLennon, Ciarán “Bearface” McDonald, Merlyn Wood, Russell “Joba” Boring, Romil Hemnani, Jabari Manwa, Kiko Merley, Robert Ontenient, Henock “HK” Sileshi, Jon Nunes, and Ashlan Grey.
As someone who often has trouble remembering the names of certain co-workers and whether or not I locked my car when I parked it earlier, deciphering between over a dozen voices on a single record is simply not something I’m immediately interested in.
Secondly, instead of referring to themselves as a musical collective ala Wu-Tang Clan, the members insist on calling themselves a ‘boy band,’ a tag that has been used almost exclusively as a slight against young, up-and-coming acts in the music industry.
In lieu of this, BROCKHAMPTON soared into the public consciousness with the release of the Saturation Trilogy, a collection of three full-length records (“Saturation” I, II, and III) the group released in 2017.
The seemingly genre-busting sounds of Saturation and the hard-hitting lyrical content helped them cultivate an incredibly dedicated fanbase all across the globe. The band quickly became an outlet for those people who struggle with opening up about their sexuality, mental health, or their general indifference for acting a certain way to satisfy society.
When your band includes enough members to fill an entire NBA roster, though, it can be difficult to manage the many different personalities and monitor the actions of your members. This, unfortunately, shined through in May last year when BROCKHAMPTON co-founder Ameer Vann was ousted from the group after sexual misconduct allegations began to surface.
After canceling all of their remaining tour dates (including a performance at last year’s Soundset) and taking time to re-group, the remaining members recorded an entirely new album titled iridescence, which was released in September, picking up immediately where they previously left off.
Today, the band is out on their Heaven Belongs to You Tour in support of yet another smash-hit record titled GINGER, which was released in August of this year and reached #3 on the Billboard 200. Out on the road with them are a few more artists we are sure to be seeing a lot more of in slowthai & 100 gecs.
Unfortunately, because I was filling in on short notice for someone else who was unable to attend, I wasn’t able to get to The Armory until about fifteen minutes before BROCKHAMPTON were set to take the stage.
However, I’ve been able to catch a 100 gecs performance before and can say with absolute confidence that their set last night was absolutely bananas. Additionally, I heard nothing but great things about slowthai as well, so hopefully it’s not too long before I’m able to see them perform!
Now, if you couldn’t tell from my earlier description of BROCKHAMPTON, I am a bit skeptical of them. Their popularity is undeniable, but heading into the show last night I had a lot of questions that needed answers, by far the biggest of which was ‘how does all of this translate to a live performance?’
The simple answer is: incredibly well.
Instead of having to keep track of all 13 members bouncing around the stage, the touring version of the band has six members, which is much easier to digest. Furthermore, the entire ‘boy band’ label makes so, so, so much more sense after seeing them perform live.
The way the six of them are able to command the stage, either lining up and performing together or each taking turns stepping to the center for their verses (while the other five stand on risers, dancing and swaying behind them) is something straight from NSync’s playbook.
There was choreography, skits, solos, and production that allows them to take advantage of every inch of the stage, providing an incredible show for everyone in attendance. It was genuinely enjoyable to watch, and one of the best all-around concert experiences I’ve had this year.
As for the music, I recognized a few of their bigger hits from the radio or Spotify playlists over the years, and while they still aren’t exactly my cup of tea, it was abundantly clear why this group has skyrocketed the way they have. They’re a group whose music fits live performances really well, and the energy from the crowd was infectious.
Judging by the age of many fans in attendance, of which, if you told me I was the oldest in attendance at twenty-four, I probably would have believed you, they’re also doing a great job of setting themselves up for at least the next decade as their fans continue to deal with the perils of being teenagers.
If I can offer one piece of advice, though, it would be to have members of the band stop pleading for the crowd to “Open it up!” because they very obviously have no idea what that means and are wholly incapable of starting a proper mosh-pit.
BROCKHAMPTON Setlist: December 3rd, 2019 / The Armory / Minneapolis, MN
- Stay (Rihanna song) (Intro)
- ST. PERCY
- IF YOU PRAY RIGHT
- BOY BYE
- I BEEN BORN AGAIN
- BLEACH (STAR outro)
- COUCH MUSIC 01
- LOVE ME FOR LIFE
- COUCH MUSIC 02
- 1999 WILDFIRE
- BIG BOY
- J’OUVERT (HEAT outro)
- NO HALO
- NOBODY KNOWS