Words fae Owen Yule (@owenyule)
20 days deep into August, and there remains little to no information on Brockhampton’s forthcoming release, The Best Years of Our Lives. Well so be it, I guess instead we will have to settle for a set list that segues through the rambunctious, and sentimental SATURATION trilogy, that also interpolates the boybands most recent singles. And how clear the faith in the group’s new direction was as 1998 TRUMAN kicked off and set the standard for the energy of both the crowd, and the performers on stage.
And if there could ever be one word to define Brockhampton’s debut night at Koko it would be just that – “energy”. Whether that passion came from the man behind the mic, the sets or those left without contributions to specific songs, the groups stamina was relentless. From the second Merlyn took stage to deliver his belligerent hook on 1998 TRUMAN to Abstract’s closing chorus on the encored 1997 DIANA, the boyband resonated vitality and vigour with every vocal and strut – this intensity was perhaps best represented by Joba during BOOGIE when he just about rapped himself in to stifled heap on the floor. With such ferocity, performers often walk a tightrope in that delivery and precision is sacrificed for unfiltered emotion and excitement, but each member delivered every flow and bar with concise expertise.
While tracks like BOOGIE, SISTER/NATION and SWEET showcased the boybands proficiency with higher tempo tracks, or more simply put… bangers. Those who are familiar with the group will be well aware of the diversity in style exhibited throughout the span of their résumé, and so, deviations to more harmonious tracks were appreciated as timely intermissions from chaos. As BLEACH came to a close Abstract ushered the fans who responded with ardour relaying his bridge back to him acapella, making for one of the most memorable moments of the show. Additionally, Joba conveyed his expansive vocal range with his zealous performance of FACE that earned him an ovation from the crowd. However, as great as these performances were, Brockhampton’s slow jam kingpin Bearface highlighted why he is the bands go-to vocalist for the tranquil cuts with his performance of SUMMER – his ethereal vocals hung over the room before his guitar solo ruptured in to applause.
Brockhampton’s first time in London was therefore an exemplary demonstration of why the boyband has managed to propel themselves in to stardom so quickly. To sell out the venue in 30 seconds and galvanise ques outside the venue from 7am is an accolade worthy of hip hop veterans, let alone new recruits of the game. However, with all their skill and passion there is only so much the group can do about venues compromising safety for profits. Even if KOKO’s inappropriate distribution of tickets invoked Romil (Set DJ & Brockhampton Producer) to throw me a bottle of water whilst in a state of dehydration, there is only so many positives to take from audience congestion. Said overcrowding only gives more weight to the importance of campaign groups such as Girls Against. With that being said, when it came to pulling their weight, Brockhampton fully embraced their duties. In fact, it was only that afternoon that Kevin Abstract stated on BEATS1 Radio that he wanted to do “Travis number”, well I think it’s safe to say that on Monday evening the group’s performance echoed that sentiment.