November 21st, 2018 by Eliana Grossman
In their short but illustrious career thus far, boy band BROCKHAMPTON has amassed a cult following of all Gen Z-ers who own even the slightest bagginess in their denim, including myself. Describing the appeal of BROCKHAMPTON feels counter-intuitive, because there is literally everything to love: a broad array of members, electrifying flow and production, and the grassroots DIY culture that they grew from.
BROCKHAMPTON is famous for their energy both in their music and live performances while still showing great vulnerability and personal presence, and having had the chance to see them before at REBEL in Toronto in February of this year, I expected that same insane energy and closeness in the fan community at this show. I wouldn’t say I was necessarily disappointed, but something was definitely lacking.
I arrived at the venue 15 minutes before the show was scheduled to start. A fog machine was hard at work, creating a hazy dream filled with inebriated teens in tiny beanies and coloured camo pants. An audio snippet from their latest album iridescencewas playing on loop in the background while everyone was milling about, waiting for the show to start. After checking out the merch booth and being disappointed by the selection and alternately being very pleased by the amount of porta-potties available, the giant screen finally lit up with a live video of BROCKHAMPTON producer/web developer Roberto Ontinient. Leadman Kevin Abstract and producer Romil Hemnani joined as well, and greeted the crowd before the screen turned black once again.
Another eternity later of witnessing many group selfies, the lights dimmed and Kevin Abstract in the flesh came out onto the stage and started the show with the popular ballad, “WEIGHT” which was an unexpected move. Eventually, the rest of the band leapt onto the stage too, and they performed a set of songs from iridescence, as well as popular hits from their critically acclaimed project, the Saturationtrilogy. Having hoped to feel a transcendent connection with the rest of the audience, I was disappointed by the lack of energy from the crowd. Perhaps it was the fairly big venue or the school night blues, but it felt like the crowd was not engaged compared to the vibrancy I saw last time.
The show was full of self-reflection from the band, and I think it was most represented by their performance of “SAN MARCOS”. The band lay on their backs with a camera filming them from a bird’s eye view, projecting it onto the screen so that the audience could see. The show ended with them rolling credits as if it were a movie, embodying the theme of a represented reality vs. a lived reality, a theme that cropped up throughout iridescence.
All in all, despite middling sound quality and too many coloured camo pants, I think BROCKHAMPTON performed valiantly, but the group still has a lot of figuring out to do especially considering this new phase in their career after the departure of former member Ameer Van. The performances lacked the playful, connected dynamic that defined BROCKHAMPTON last year, and while that marks a certain type of maturing from the group, I think they need to figure out how to navigate this new group dynamic on stage while still conveying the spirit of their music.
Highlight: being able to see Romil Hemnani dance along backstage.
Lowlight: Someone who looked like Pete Davidson making out with someone who looked like Ariana Grande. RIP.