Brockhampton takes their unique sound on tour

By CATE TURNER | October 25, 2018

Courtesy of Cate Turner Brockhampton performing at the Anthem theater in Washington, D.C. on October 16.

On a fateful Tuesday, Oct. 16 to be exact, I skipped my one class of the day and went to a concert in Washington, D.C. with two of my friends to see Brockhampton, one of our favorite bands, for their I’ll Be There tour. I had been to a Brockhampton concert several months before, so I thought I knew how wild and uncontrollable both the fans and the general admission pit would be. Little did I know that The Anthem, the D.C. venue where they performed, would feel about five times larger than the venue in upstate New York where I saw them perform last May. 

The evening was quickly off to a great start: My friend drove us in her minivan, so we were automatically the coolest people there. While we were hopelessly looking for parking, we stumbled upon several members of the band — specifically Matt Champion and Dom McLennon — filming something on one of the docks on D.C.’s tourist-friendly Wharf and actually had a conversation with them. Although they said they didn’t have time to take photos, they told us to have fun at the concert, and we promised we would. It was not only one of the most easygoing conversations I’ve had with a famous person but also with anyone, ever. 

Entering the venue was, as expected, akin to the stampedes at the Walmarts and Targets of America at their openings on Black Friday. As soon as the crazed fans, clad in classic Vans, denim jackets and even homemade Brockhampton gear, had their tickets approved, they flooded the general admission (GA) pit with a vigor that I simply don’t possess anymore. Naturally everyone wanted to be as close to the stage as possible, and many fans waited outside the venue for hours to get a good spot. 

We were let into The Anthem at 7:30 p.m., but the concert wouldn’t begin until about 9:30 p.m. So there we stood, dedicated and perhaps insane, pushed up against hundreds of high schoolers with nothing to do but wait (because there’s barely any room to move your arms). As start time came closer and the crowd pushed further and further into the front, one of my friends left to stand at the edge of the pit because she had already become too claustrophobic.

But when Kevin Abstract, the band’s de facto leader, walked on stage alone and began the emotional, slow beginning of “WEIGHT,” the pressure of the pit didn’t seem to matter as much anymore. Although the fans in the crowd became even more pushy and impassioned at the sight of Abstract, it was a feeling that everyone had together. 

Abstract quickly introduced a style he would use for the rest of the concert: stylized autotune, taking a hint from artists like T-Pain, Kanye West and Travis Scott. Although at first I doubted how successful it would be, Abstract quickly proved me wrong. His verses, not just on “WEIGHT” but for the rest of the performance, sounded inexplicably and wonderfully soulful, and it seemed as if the autotuned mic was giving him the confidence to take risks on his runs and tuning. Other members of the group whose verses include a more melodic style also used autotune with great success. 

After the first song concluded, the pit had become so wild that the band had to wait until it calmed down to perform their next song — though personally, I think this just made their fans more agitated. Brockhampton’s set list was almost evenly split between old songs from their Saturation trilogy and newer tracks from their latest album, Iridescence. The crowd, myself included, seemed perfectly satisfied with their set list and the band’s choice to include their most fun and famous songs from their entire discography. 

I was impressed with how much better the level of production was, because their last concert I attended contained many mistakes and a simple, constant backdrop. In D.C., though, the film playing in the background changed for each song and varied from trippy, ‘80s MTV music video effects to stills of the crowd and flashbacks to the band’s earlier days. The sound was faultless; they even featured Kanye West’s “Bound 2.” Most of this is probably attributable to the band’s success and the increased experience of their production team. 

While the whole performance was genuinely enjoyable and every member of the band had their lyrical and dramatic moments, Kevin Abstract stole the show. He is known for being slightly unpredictable and often unenthusiastic at concerts, but on Tuesday he did everything right. He interacted with the audience more than anyone I’d ever seen: He hummed the beginnings of many of their famous songs and let us continue, alone, as long as we could; he made us guess songs from their instrumental versions; and he was smiling every time I looked at him. 

Brockhampton’s concert was one of the best I’ve been to, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go on another stop on their tour. However, general admission is something to keep in mind when buying tickets. I used to be able to withstand any conditions to see my favorite band (*cough One Direction cough*), but I am simply not as strong as I once was. For anyone who has never been in a GA crowd at a rap concert, here’s some advice: Be really, really sure that you’re prepared for it. And if you are, then you should go, because it’ll be one of the coolest experiences of your life.

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