Arts, Music, Off Campus

BROCKHAMPTON Shines During Agganis Arena Set

Backlit by iridescent imagery, BROCKHAMPTON’s Oct. 20 performance engulfed the Agganis Arena audience, leaving a lasting impression on newcomers and longtime fans of the rap collective.

The band’s newest album, iridescence, set the theme of the evening with an electrifying, colorful performance and a kaleidoscope of lyrics, covering topics like sexuality, mental health, and drug abuse. In effect, each of the six performing members were given a platform to express their personal stories.

Although the band recently lost rapper Ameer Vann due to sexual misconduct accusations, the remaining members—Joba, Bearface, Matt Champion, Dom McLennon, Merlyn Wood, and frontman Kevin Abstract—still performed with their famous ferocious spirit. But they weren’t the only ones that deserve credit. The consistent artistic production from creative members Jarbari Manwa, Hencock “HK” Sileshi, Kevin Doan, Romil Hemnani, Robert Ontenient, Kiko Merley, Ashlan Grey, and Jon Nunes was certainly commendable too.

As the lights dimmed over the Boston crowd, BROCKHAMPTON took to the stage, leading with lyrically heavy song, “WEIGHT,” an ode to the members’ struggles that discusses topics, such as Abstract’s sexuality, familial conflicts, and the internalization of external pressures seen in the lyric, “Sippin’ on my pain, smokin’ on my pain / Ingesting my pain, I just wanna play.”

The band followed its gut wrenching, raw anthem, with a dynamic performance of “NEW ORLEANS,” a track that features a verse by Jaden Smith and displays each member’s strengths: Joba’s poetic aggressiveness, McLennon’s effortless rhythm, and Bearface’s versatile vocal range.

“Are there any SATURATION fans?” Abstract asked a resounding choir of enthusiastic fans before continuing with the set.

The band responded with a series of songs from its 2017 trilogy, SATURATION: “ZIPPER,” “QUEER,” “GOLD,” “GUMMY,” “SWAMP,” and crowd favorite “SWEET.” The group continually omitted Vann’s verses from its live performances, often replacing them with an Abstract-led “BROCK-HAMPTON” crowd chant.

While the band took a short break, the arena’s screens showed videos of the members answering questions ranging from, “Do you believe in a higher power?” to “What makes you feel like an adult?” The crowd responded to the brief dialogue with howls of amusement.

Wood and Champion came back to the stage, performing their spirited track, “WHERE THE CASH AT.” Toward the middle of the set, the rest of the band joined the duo back on stage, singing more of its iridescence hits: The stadium rattled during “J’OUVERT,” which features heavy electronic production, and the steady, hypnotic “HONEY,” which incorporates samples from BROCKHAMPTON’s song “BUMP” and Beyoncé’s “Dance for You.”

Toward the end of the set, BROCKHAMPTON performed its beloved track, “BLEACH,” from its SATURATION III record. Abstract repeatedly requested the audience to sing the harmonious, soothing chorus a cappella.

Throughout the show, the boyband carried an electric chaos, bouncing around the stage, calling out to the crowd and the city of Boston, and demanding the infamous BROCKHAMPTON mosh pit. Like the band itself, the audience did not disappoint. The crowd bounced along with the group and screamed the lyrics under the flashing infrared lights.

Near the end of the show, BROCKHAMPTON performed its brilliantly auto-tuned “SAN MARCOS,” featuring the peaceful strum of a guitar, the charming sound of a violin, and a collective melody of the lyrics “I want more out of life than this,” summarizing the band’s overarching message and filling the venue with a sense of community.

Saturday night’s atmosphere proved that BROCKHAMPTON records music that lends itself to live performance. From the line that stretched down Commonwealth Avenue to the ceaseless chanting of “BROCK-HAMPTON,” the audience was fully invested from start to finish, as were the performers. BROCKHAMPTON is devoted to the music it produces and the fans who support it—and the members’ passion was amplified at top volume through the sound system of Agganis Arena.

The band returned to the stage with a magnetic encore of its hit song, “BOOGIE.” The group closed out the set with the same unwavering energy it had at the start of the show, proving its title as “the best boyband since One Direction.”

Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Editor

November 3, 2018