The very first introduction I had to BROCKHAMPTON occurred after they were a full formed entity, when I interviewed its founder, Kevin Abstract, last March. In our nearly hour-long conversation, the artist passionately discussed coming into your own as a young gay Black man (he’s rapped about his sexual identity throughout his discography) and the cultural currency that music still possesses. Abstract’s sincerity was his most inspiring attribute; it was clear that he firmly stands behind every piece of music he’s ever put out and the effects it has on his young listeners. Quite frankly, he knows it’s bigger than him.
Then I saw Abstract live at the Middle East shortly after the article ran and his performance was stunted by laptop difficulties that forced him to stop the show early. Fans either opted to mingle with the emcee while songs from his sophomore album, American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story, played in the background or simply go home. Months later, he was scheduled to play Afropunk in Brooklyn, but instead gave his stage time to BROCKHAMPTON for an unforgettable performance. Gone was the insecure and hesitant Abstract that I had come to expect.
What the audience got a glimpse of was an artist that was bolder and more confident than ever; serving as the nucleus of the hip-hop facet suits him obscenely well. The energy that BROCKHAMPTON possesses is manic and fun and fiery and contagious. Having Afropunk — a festival that centers the multidimensional nature of the Black experience — serve as the backdrop for seeing the group for the first time was the icing on the cake. As they made their way to Boston’s House of Blues for a sold out concert this past Monday (February 5), a clubland table-setter for their upcoming appearance at Boston Calling in May, could they keep this momentum going for their most diehard fans?
With all of the members dressed in orange jumpsuits — an ode to their infamous “Star” video — BROCKHAMPTON kicked off their tremendous set with the infectious party starter “Boogie,” off their third and final installment of Saturation, which arrived in December. From “Star” to “Gold” to “Stupid” to “Junky” to “Bleach,” the crowd ravenously devoured every movement the group made, every line a member recited. But it was Abstract who served as BROCKHAMPTON’s maestro and carefully curated how the evening was going to go.
He would introduce the songs, silence the crowd so he could talk, and briefly stand on a soapbox that immediately grabbed the attention of everyone in attendance. Abstract thanked everyone in BROCKHAMPTON for believing in him when no one else did and said that regardless of where you’re from or what you’ve been through, there’s nothing stopping you from following your dreams.
The band went on to perform “Star” five more times consecutively, encouraging the audience to get rowdy and start a mosh pit during each repetition. The night proved quite victorious for Abstract: No glitches, no insecurities, and no one stopping him from spreading BROCKHAMPTON’s courageous and empowering agenda to anyone who would listen.
Featured BROCKHAMPTON photo by Candace McDuffie. Follow her on Instagram @cmcduffie1.