It felt very full circle to be back at the Fillmore for the Brockhampton show. A little over a year ago, I entered that same complex to cover my first show for WQHS at the Foundry. The performance then? Also Brockhampton. I think it’s a fairly good metaphor for the year they’ve had—moving from the Foundry level crowd to the Fillmore level crowd in just a year. They went from a rag-tag group of teenagers who met on a Kanye West forum to “America’s favorite boyband” with a #1 record on Billboard. It goes without saying that I was honored to be able to attend a show of theirs again.
Aside from the size of the crowd and the venue itself, this set up was far more technologically advanced. They had an LED screen in the background projecting a mix of live footage from the crowd interspersed with scenery and urban settings. As they began their set with a few songs off of their new album Iridescence, the background remained in black and white. After a blackout and as they introduced songs from Saturations 1-3, the background literally saturated with color. Even though I was in the back, the visuals were incredible. They also had laser lights that made it feel like a club, which made sense given that their latest record is inspired by the London club scene.
The sound set up was also far more advanced than a year ago. No more of Romil DJing in the back on his computer. They had a full set up, and Kevin Abstract, the group’s leader, had a beautiful autotune effect on his microphone that made the songs sound even better than they did on the record. I was interested to see what they would do with Ameer Vann’s verses; they took a few out entirely, but for other songs, other people rapped them. This is the first tour Brockhampton have done since they kicked Ameer out of the group for sexual misconduct over the summer. People were unsure if they would be able to continue without someone who many considered to be their strongest rapper.
If I had any doubts, this show quelled all of them. It proved that they have grown to be stronger than ever. The emotional center of the night was when they played “Tonya,” one of the singles they released this summer that ended up on Iridescence. They faced backwards for the entirety of the song, until the end, the screen illuminated all their faces. The song is personal and raw to begin with, but this only emphasized how difficult the last few months have been for them. It showed, however, that they have overcome their struggles together. They may have lost some fans with the direction that they took on this album, but they gained many more. If they continue to put out records like Iridescence and perform like they did last week, I have no doubt that they will be around for many years to come.