The self proclaimed “boyband” hip-hop collective Brockhampton performed their third night at Terminal 5 on Wednesday, October 24. The crowd was filled with devoted fans of all ages. The anticipation for the group to perform was obvious; fans around me were expressing how eager they were to finally see them live and about their performance on The Tonight Show the night before.
I was able to see Brockhampton perform twice before, but never at a venue the size of Terminal 5. I saw them perform in September 2017 at the 300-capacity Bottom Lounge in Chicago, just after they released their second Saturation II album. Their Saturation album trilogy (all released throughout 2017) propelled the band to larger and larger audiences. In February 2018, I saw them perform again at the House of Blues in Chicago. Their growing popularity and cult-like following was obvious; the 1,800-capacity venue was packed with excitement, and the group’s performing abilities were sharper. Their music’s accessibility and the diversity of the group members was fresh to see in the hip-hop scene.
Much has happened since I last watched them perform. Brockhampton signed to RCA Records in the spring, and founding member Ameer Vann exited the group after sexual misconduct allegations materialized. The group ultimately scrapped the album they were working on with him, which they planned to release in June.
Despite releasing three standalone singles over the summer, the group kept a low profile until the release of their fourth record, Iridescence, in September 2018. The album, which was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, marked a departure in the group’s sound, as they abandoned their west coast hip-hop grind for more abrasive, experimental instrumentation and emotionally fragile lyricism.
As soon as Terminal 5’s lights shut off and the members entered the stage, the dense crowd shoved its way toward the front. I underestimated the energy of the crowd at first, but once the show began it was so tightly packed with people that it was swaying like an ocean tide. The group started with their Iridescence track “WEIGHT”, and the crowd immediately went ballistic. I have never seen moshing so apparent at a hip-hop show before. The mastermind behind the group Kevin Abstract helped fuel it, shouting multiple times at the crowd to “open up the pit” for sweat-drenched fans to crash into each other.
Brockhampton also played some tracks from the Saturation album trilogy, with the help of the crowd chanting and singing along. Some songs, the crowd would sing along to every word. When the grimey, atmospheric track “J’OUVERT” was performed, the group performed at their maximum effort. Rapper Joba shrieked his verse into his microphone. Once Merlyn’s verse began, the crowd was immersed and dancing to the swaggering groove of the track, which samples a Grenadian song.
The groups energetic and charismatic performance, along with the crowd’s loud and proud participation, proved that the group is able to stand out as a unique collective in the modern mainstream music and hip-hop scene.
Concert Review By: A.J. Frigoletto