by Jose Alberto Orive
Photograph courtesy of The Fader
Throughout 2017, the world of hip-hop has been thriving more than ever, spreading into all aspects of pop culture. However, with Odd Future disbanded and A$AP Mob proving that they are less than the sum of their parts in their past two tapes, music listeners have been missing out on a truly exciting group.
Seemingly out of nowhere this summer, Brockhampton answered our hip-hop calls. The newcomers dropped two full-length albums (Saturation 1 and Saturation 2), as well as a barrage of music videos to accompany their album. Saturating the hip-hop scene with their content, Brockhampton is truly a collective and not just in the musical sense.
The group consists of 15 official members with different roles and backgrounds. Members’ skills include rapping, producing, directing and even managing. By making everyone involved in the band an actual member, they have revealed a beautifully cohesive artistic direction.
From music videos to web design, Brockhampton is a unique experience in and of itself—it certainly shows in their live performance.
At The Middle East, a venue in Boston, there was blatant anticipation and a massive line of teenagers circling the block. Two of the lesser-known members even walked around interviewing people for the group’s tour videos.
DJ Romil, one of the band’s producers, hyped up the crowd with some of the year’s biggest rap bangers. Granted, it’s always nice to see more than one artist at a concert, but the lack of a formal opening act meant less of a wait for the headliners as Brockhampton appeared almost immediately after.
In the blink of an eye, the group’s vocalist ran onto the stage for a performance of “HEAT,” followed by “GUMMY”—the two opening tracks off their respective albums, interestingly enough. The beats were hard-hitting, the flows were aggressive and the show never slowed down from there.
Performing banger after banger, the group made sure to keep the energy going and the set list exciting. No one member kept the spotlight too long as their set list was arranged to showcase each member’s standout verses throughout the night.
Continuing with their quest for artistic cohesion, the group decided to place a couch, which is their logo, at the center of the stage. This arrangement allowed members who were not rapping at the moment a chance to sit down and chill with each other while casually rapping along to their band members’ verses. This created a sense of theatrics not usually found at the venue due to its small size.
The up-and-coming group also made sure to prove that there is strength in numbers.
Having seven people on stage allowed for there to be lots of crowd interaction. The group wasn’t afraid to make the venue their own; there was crowd surfing and rapping on top of speakers. There was even a point where one of the members snuck off the stage to rap on top of a column. A highlight was when DJ Romel hung from the pipes on the ceiling as he traversed across the crowd.
However, the group made the strange choice to have all the members leave the stage to have the mysterious Bearface perform all the slow songs from the Saturation series.
While this allowed the crowd to catch its breath, it felt abrupt. It was evident that the crowd wasn’t as invested in those performances given the decrease in enthusiastic singing heard throughout the rest of the concert.
If there was one more gripe with the performance, it was the lack of songs performed that were not from their Saturation series. While their Saturation songs arguably propelled the group to where they are now, they did not really reward the “day one” fans.
They closed out with “STAR,” one of their most recognizable songs; it’s the one song you would definitely play to a friend when introducing Brockhampton.
Taking an encore to the next level, they played the song five times in a row as the crowd rapped the majority of Kevin Abstract’s closing verse during the first three run-throughs. However, instead of feeling repetitive, the energy and sound only seemed to grow louder.