BROCKHAMPTON’s “i’ll be there tour” captures the crowd

Hans Janovy Meyer, page editor

BROCKHAMPTON, the hardest working boyband in show business—or at least that’s how they describe themselves on their Twitter account. The 14 member boyband is an alternative hip-hop collective that entered the music scene under the name BROCKHAMPTON in 2015. Founded by multitalented artist Kevin Abstract, the group’s origin can be traced to a post by Abstract on a Kanye West fan forum asking if anyone would like to join a band he wanted to start. The group is made out of not just rappers and vocalists, although there are six of those, but also producers (the people making the beats and mixing and mastering the tracks), graphic designers, a web developer, and more. Since forming, the group has released five full length studio albums including the critically acclaimed SATURATION trilogy.

This past September, iridescence, the first album in The Best Years of Our Lives trilogy and BROCKHAMPTON’s fifth studio album debuted at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. The bulk of the album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios (of Beatles fame) over a ten day period. The album lacks the presence of rapper Ameer Vann who left BROCKHAMPTON after allegations of sexual misconduct arose this past May.

Following the album’s release, the band ventured out on the “i’ll be there tour,” which included a stop in Minneapolis on Oct. 30th. The Minneapolis stop in the tour took place at The Armory, a historic building that was built originally in 1935 for the Minnesota National Guard. Crowds came circling the venue, many concert goers sat in line for hours before the doors opened in hopes of being as close to the stage and the action as possible.

Preceding the band’s appearance on stage, at multiple different occasions the crowd began chanting “BROCKHAMPTON” and “Simpson” (Abstract’s real name is Clifford Simpson). Upon taking the stage, BROCKHAMPTON was met with thunderous applause and cheers. The show began with Kevin Abstract’s emotional verse off of the iridescence song called WEIGHT. During the verse, the crowd seemingly calmed down, as if relaxing at the sound of Abstract’s voice. Following Abstract’s verse, however, the song’s breakdown ushered in a rush of energy. That same energy continued into iridesence’s opening track NEW ORLEANS.

Over the course of the entire show, the visual displays put on by the group entranced the audience. A massive screen displayed video and bright colors, in line with the album’s promotional material theme of thermal cameras. The images displayed at times seemed completely surreal. Along with the screen went bright flashing lights of changing colors giving the atmosphere inside the building that of any other modern concert.

The flow of the setlist allowed for needed breaks from that energy and power. For example, TONYA, a mellow song to slow dance to was sandwiched in between STAR, an over the top anthem filled with allusions to Hollywood and movie history, and GOLD, from the original SATURATION album which contains one of the most fan beloved choruses of any BROCKHAMPTON song. Both these songs exhilarated the artists, and the crowd even more. The group balanced fan favorites from the SATURATION trilogy with the new iridescence album in a way that appealed to all Brockhampton fans, regardless of when they started listening or which album may be favorite.

However, I feel that there are two things that were less than ideal about the setlist. The first is the lack of any material from BROCKHAMPTON’s first album ALL-AMERICAN TRASH. While it is no understatement to say that out of the group’s five albums, ALL-AMERICAN TRASH is the weakest, there are still tracks that maintain to hold their own when compared to material from their later albums. FLIP MO comes to mind as one of the standouts from ALL-AMERICAN TRASH that I think could have been included in the show. Featuring solely Brockhampton rappers Merlyn Wood and Dom Mclennon, and at just over two minutes in length, it could bring back a little splash from the past.

Perhaps one of the most endearing moments of the entire concert came in the last leg of the concert. Kevin Abstract had the entire audience sing the chorus of BLEACH after the song was over, urging the crowd to sing it quieter and quieter until just a melodic whisper was heard. It is moments like this when you realize just how connected the band was with the audience and vise versa.

The show that BROCKHAMPTON put on at The Armory felt like a complete experience, with the audio, the visuals, and the atmosphere to present a very enjoyable night for anyone in attendance. The band was able to get everyone bouncing on their feet with urgent frenzy while Joba emphatically sings his verse on J’OUVERT,  and in the same show, the audience is swaying to and fro encapsulated by bearface’s soothing singing on TONYA.