WRITTEN/PHOTOS BY: AnnaMarie Otor
Hip hop boy band BROCKHAMPTON made a 2 night stop at the Fillmore on October 17th and 18th as a part of their current U.S. tour, “i’ll be there.” Promoting their latest album, iridescence, songs from the work dominated about half of the setlist for the concert. With a sold out show on their hands, the young men performed to nothing short of a full house at the venue.
BROCKHAMPTON is based in Los Angeles, California comprised of 14 young men including rappers/singers, as well as in house producers, photographers, web designers, management, etc. On stage personalities include Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, Dom McLennon, Merlyn Wood, Bearface, and Joba while these additional behind the scenes efforts come from Kevin Doan, Ashlan Grey, Romil Hemnani, Jabari Manwa, Kiko Merley, Jon Nunes, Robert Ontenient, and HK Sileshi. While a mixture of them were previous friends living in Texas, a lot of connections were cultivated on the Kanye West fan forum site “KanyeToThe.” Their first mixtape, All-American Trash came out in 2016, before their whirlwind trilogy of SATURATION albums — all of which came out in 2017. Currently in the midst of their next trilogy, iridescence is the first of this new body of work.
With no opener for the show, fans were left waiting in the venue with looping orchestral music and a voice every so often layered over it, repeating phrases like “do you want to start the game again?” and “take it all, or leave it.” When the show finally started, Kevin Abstract came out on his own as he began his verse in “WEIGHT,” the orchestral accompaniment complimenting his words well. As the song continued, all other on stage members came barrelling out much to fans’ excitement.
The set continued with an electric performance of the opening track of iridescence, “NEW ORLEANS,” every member sailing and reeling across the stage and delivering their verses as the audience eagerly responded, raving the words of the chorus back. Following, they gave a nod to their previous material from the SATURATION trilogy, performing hits like “ZIPPER,” “QUEER,” “GUMMY,” and “STAR.” Their set design, much different from their previous tours, encapsulated multicolor lighting backdrops of various videos, as well real time videos of the men on stage and the audience throughout, timed at different points complimented by shooting lights into the crowd.
Some of the most notable moments of the night included breaks between songs when a question would pop on the screen behind them, such as “Do you feel like you know your parents?” and “Do you think you can live life with no regrets?” Following these, prerecorded video responses from Dom McLennon and Matt Champion played as they each shared their take and personal stories based on the inquiries.
Another high point from the night came from Merlyn Wood’s invigorating performance during “WHERE THE CASH AT.” As he jumped around on stage, many were more than ready for the call and response he had going on as the flashing green lights flooded the room. When the song came to a close, they all put on a theatrical performance in which all members beat up Matt Champion, to play into the theme of the song itself.
The last part of the set consisted primarily of songs from the new album, with personal highlights stemming from the high energy performances of “J’OUVERT” and “DISTRICT.” With a brief touch onto SATURATION III, their performance of “BLEACH” featured a slightly different instrumental than the studio version, encapsulating a sample of Kanye West’s “Bound 2” during Merlyn Wood’s verse of the song. On the slower side, “SAN MARCOS” washed over a wave of communal belonging, as the men sat down on stools, chanting “I want more out of life than this, I want more, I want more” along with fans in the audience as the song progressed.
The final song of the evening, “FABRIC,” left Abstract encouraging the audience to take over and sing the chorus, “I keep telling you, you don’t understand why I can’t get up and shout,” until everyone in the building had screamed it at the top of their lungs.
After the audience began chanting and pleading for another song as the lights remained off and the group vacated the stage after bidding goodnight, several minutes later the men reemerged for an encore finishing off the night with a performance of “BOOGIE.” As fans opened up the pit per Kevin Abstract’s request one last time, all members bombarded the stage with this lead single from SATURATION III. When the song came to a close and the group left the stage, end credits began to illuminate the main screen behind them, mirroring the way end credits roll at the close of a movie.
Seeing BROCKHAMPTON go from playing the Foundry, a significantly smaller venue, just last fall to selling out one of two nights at the Fillmore this tour speaks volumes to their accolades and exponential growth during the past year. Their stage presence and overall show quality has increased greatly while maintaining the same passion, hunger, and fire that makes the group exhilarating to watch. Each of them bring a unique aspect to the table, whether it be the way Bearface’s vocal versatility exemplified in “TONYA,” and “SAN MARCOS” or Joba’s eccentric nature and dance moves, BROCKHAMPTON is nothing short of an exceptional boy band.
- NEW ORLEANS
- WHERE THE CASH AT
- SAN MARCOS