“I need a CamelBak for this shit.” Drenched and blissful, a BROCKHAMPTON fan summed up what we were all thinking: it was too damn hot. Every single body packed into the sold out Globe Hall on that night of September 3 was sopping wet — the young crowd was essentially musty, adolescent sardines. We’re not talking wipe-the-sweat-off-your-forehead hot, we’re talking it-looks-like-everyone-just-stepped-out-of-the-shower hot. Like, the kind of hot where you’re not sure if the sweat on you is yours or the person next to you. The beauty of it, though, is that no one (with the exception of the kid that passed out next to me, probably) gave a fuck.
To say the least, BROCKHAMPTON fans are real fans. They’re wild and obsessive. There’s an entire culture to it, and it’s more than just shouting Kevin Abstract’s coined phrase “yee-haw.” The conversation in line and time spent waiting for the show to start was the most telling. Everyone knew every single member of the 17-man super group. They argued if Saturation or Saturation II is better and talked about Abstract’s tweets and Romil’s eyebrows. The dedication of these fans exceeded the love from an average hip-hop head. It was boyband-status love. Seeing sticky, shirtless grown men scream Merlyn Wood’s name solidified the importance of what that really means.
Following the success of the Saturation and Saturation II albums, backed with the publicity from the group’s show American Boyband on Viceland, BROCKHAMPTON is beginning to get the attention they deserve. But if the sweaty, beautiful mess that took place at Globe Hall is meant to tell us anything about them, it’s that these boys are fucking revolutionary — not even just for hip-hop, but for music, art and the way we both create and consume it.
The band is an embodiment of “for us, by us.” They’re making art for kids like them — artsy outcasts, kids of color, LGBTQ kids and anyone who needs someone to admire — and they’re working out every detail of it, from production to visuals to distribution, by themselves. I’ve been to a decent amount of hip-hop shows in my life, and I’d be remiss not to say this show was different. It’s definitely the first time I’ve heard a packed room scream lines like “I told my mom I was gay, why the fuck she ain’t listen” and “respect my mother, respect my sister, respect those women boy” at a rap show. Those kinds of lines that carry them to boyband-level success are important. BROCKHAMPTON is creating a new normal for rap music and for teens in general.
The performance, which kicked off the band’s Jennifer’s Tour, showcased their unwavering chemistry, too. While Abstract has garnered independent success, there is no frontman. Every member holds their own — and does a damn good job of it, too. Delivery from each of the emcees was solid, despite mic levels being low sometimes, and the eccentric, polished vocalist Joba shined in a way we haven’t seen him before. Following Romil’s DJ set and the ever important introduction by Roberto, moshing ensued. A lot of it. Stage dives followed suit, with bloody noses and tumbles shortly there after. I’m not sure anyone was really prepared for the combination of that energy and the heat, but it definitely made everyone in the room feel a lot closer.
A few songs in, things cooled down with the slower, heartfelt “FACE.” It felt like the crowd was all taking a deep breath together. From this point on, we began to see the personalities of the bandmates shine as the settled in on stage. Like everything BROCKHAMPTON does, the production was well thought out — from certain choreographed bits to their iconic couch logo on-stage, nearly every move was calculated and purposeful. But none of it was lacking passion or artistry.
The BROCKHAMPTON artists are good enough to have solo careers — their rhymes alone prove that — but seeing them on stage together spotlights how they play off of each other and make each other better. This isn’t one of those instances where one or two members of the collective carry most of the weight — if any of the artists were lost, there would be a significant hole in the music. Moreso, you can see that every one of these boys loves what they do, and they do it well.
Somewhere near the start of the set, Ameer Vann got what seemed to be his first good look at the crowd, rapping along every word. You could tell by his smile it felt surreal, it was one of those rare moments when you catch an artist — or really anybody — taking in the moment when they’re exactly where they’re supposed to be. To say the least, that sort of smile is inspiring, and it’s so much of what BROCKHAMPTON is about: unapologetically living your truth. Being in the presence of that makes you want to be apart of something, and for that reason, this tour is going to take hip hop’s best boyband to heights we’ve never seen.