Brockhampton calls themselves “the best boy band since One Direction.” This seems tongue-in-cheek at first given that the orange jumpsuit-clad band includes DIY rappers, singers and producers. However, at their show in Mission Ballroom on Monday, full of hype and substance, BROCKHAMPTON proved themselves worthy of boy band superstardom.
Monday night’s on-stage show featured only six of the 14 members: Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, Dom McLennon, Merlyn Wood, JOBA and Bearface. After the opening song “ST. PERCY,” they lined up and introduced themselves like an NBA All-Star team and every performer drew raucous audience applause. Fans clearly revered the band as well as the music.
BROCKHAMPTON then launched into their dance-inducing “ZIPPER,” prompting nearly the entire floor of 2000 people to push into one another, dancing and singing along as jets of air blasted the band onstage. The mosh pit was energetic but also had a unique energy, as though filled with unity and love.
The group’s wide appeal comes from their diversity, which includes African-American, Asian, white and queer musicians. They actively embrace the outsider lifestyle and are outspoken and prideful of it in their lyrics.
“Fuck what you been hearing, I’m everything they fearing / I’m black and smart and sexy, universally appealing,” chanted McLennon in “QUEER,” a self-love anthem for the African-American queer experience. Though the raucous, young crowd of a BROCKHAMPTON show could harken back to the “Kill People, Burn Shit, Fuck School” attitude of the Odd Future rap collective, BROCKHAMPTON made it entirely clear that they’re going for something new: the preaching of love and tolerance, rather than unfiltered aggression. Their audience, just as diverse as the band itself, saw a part of themselves on-stage that night— several had tears streaming down their faces as they watched their idols on stage.
Each member had something unique to show off. Abstract dazzled the crowd on his memorable verse from “STAR” during an instrumental melody on the fan-favorite “BLEACH.” JOBA nearly screamed his part on “J’OUVERT.” These standalone moments were often the most electrifying parts of the night.
A sense of unity translated perfectly to BROCKHAMPTON’s stage presence. They chose to perform not as Abstract or Bearface the rappers, but as BROCKHAMPTON, a family. At times, in classic hip-hop fashion, they took turns as MCs and hypemen, jumping around for a few moments before taking time to lounge on the couch they brought onstage. At other times, they leaned into the boy-band showmanship and exhibited perfectly choreographed dance routines.
In contrast to the dance-heavy material they brought in Monday’s setlist, BROCKHAMPTON closed out the night with “NO HALO,” a tender ballad that called for the swaying of phone lights. The song featured the lyrics, “Do I matter? I’m ecstatic, I’m depressed / More like God’s special mess, never had no halo.”
Indeed, BROCKHAMPTON proved they don’t need a halo to shine. And after a performance like Monday night’s, they proved they don’t need a label (or anyone’s approval either, for that matter). Whether they’re a hip-hop collective or a boy band, lyrical or soulful, their unrestrained authenticity transformed them into legitimate phenomenons for the foreseeable future.
Contact CU Independent Arts Writer Ben Berman at firstname.lastname@example.org