October 20, 2018 @ Agganis Arena
Last year, BROCKHAMPTON proclaimed itself the “biggest boy band since One Direction.” Now, following the dramatic loss of a member and the growth of an overwhelmingly young cult following, the comparisons ring truer than ever. But BROCKHAMPTON’s recovery after kicking out Ameer Vann proves the young band is more resilient than its boyband predecessors. A dynamic, high-emotion performance at Agganis Arena cemented one thing – BROCKHAMPTON is here to stay, and so are the fans.
The cult of BROCKHAMPTON was evident everywhere within the arena. Fans decked out in face paint and orange jumpsuits braved the cold to wait in line for eight hours, hoping to be as close to their idols as possible. The line for the merchandise table spanned the length of the arena, sending roadies up and down the stairs to keep restocking yellow sweatshirts.
As soon as Kevin Abstract took the microphone, his voice was accompanied with jumping and screaming from the GA pit. As the energy of opener ‘WEIGHT’ picked up, so did the liveliness of the crowd. ‘NEW ORLEANS’ turned the floor into a giant mosh pit prompted by Abstract. The real peaks of hype didn’t come until the band played songs from last year’s SATURATION series, though. ‘BLEACH’ concluded with a minute and a half of just the crowd singing the chorus on repeat and the infectious hooks of songs like ‘ZIPPER,’ ‘QUEER,’ and ‘GOLD’ commanded fans.
While their latest release iridescence was initially underwhelming, the sheer passion of the band breathed new life into it as the setlist shifted its focus to newer songs. The switched-up order and pounding instrumentals let each new song shine, with ‘FABRIC’ coming out on top as a new personal favorite.
The eight offstage members embellished the show with live visuals and pre-recorded interviews about life, death, adulthood and everything in between. The production created the feeling of a live documentary, complete with confessionals and live shots of the crowd. Its most effective moment was when the band lay down on the floor and stared at the ceiling during a moving performance of ‘SAN MARCOS.’ They were filmed from above, creating a beautiful visual of the members laying down on an oversaturated red and blue beach for a moment of reflection. Combined with a chorus of fans belting “I want more out of life than this,” positivity radiated and created a sense of hope throughout the whole arena.
This performance was the polar opposite of their last show in Boston. The band was visibly upset performing at Boston Calling without Vann and would officially kick him out later that night. They were unprepared to deal with Vann’s absence, creating uncomfortable silences during his verses and ultimately leading to a group hug between members as they cried together and walked off stage early.
This time, BROCKHAMPTON was polished and ready for redemption. Vann’s verses disappeared without a trace, but his presence was still felt in the sentimentality of the performance. Watching the band move on was cathartic, serving as a reminder that it’s hard to cut toxic people out of your life, but in the end you will move on and be OK again. BROCKHAMPTON is often disregarded because of its young fan base, but intrinsic messages about abuse and growth stand out as healthy guidelines and sources of hope in a world full of bad news.