Typically, the crowd you would expect to see at a boy band’s concert would be filled with teenage and pre-teen girls, and maybe a few moms and dads who were dragged along. The crowd, mostly consisting of college students and 20-somethings, for Los Angeles’ BROCKHAMPTON (the self-proclaimed “best boy band since One Direction”) was anything but typical for their Tuesday night show at the Intersection Lounge in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
This demographic is pretty unsurprising when you consider that BROCKHAMPTON isn’t your typical boy band.
Not only does the group’s musical style — rap that mixes aggressive, underground sounds with poppy moments and an occasional ballad by Bearface (a guitarist and singer from the north of Ireland) — break away from the traditional bubblegum pop associated with boy bands, their 14 members (including seven vocalists) don’t exactly fit the part either.
BROCKHAMPTON’s members are black, white and Asian. Some are straight, and some are gay. But despite their respective backgrounds — which they are all very open about in their verses — they all seem to embrace the outsider style.
This unifying sense of being an outsider was on full display amongst the fans who lined around the block, braving sub-freezing temperatures, to see the group. Some even painted themselves blue and wore orange jumpsuits — the boy band’s traditional uniform.
BROCKHAMPTON kicked off the show with “BOOGIE,” the opening track on “SATURATION III,” their third album of 2017 — yes, third. The utterly infectious, unrestrained and funky horns made for a high-energy start to a show that went on to include a fairly even mix of tracks across all three “SATURATION” albums, a rallying chant against Pitchfork and an impromptu performance from two audience members who were lucky enough to join “America’s favorite boyband” on stage.
BROCKHAMPTON’s songs translated fantastically to a live setting, but they had more to the show then just stellar songs.
Dom McLennon appeared as smooth and slick as he sounded.
JOBA’s vocals were as hypnotic and eerie as you might hope.
And Merlyn’s unpredictable and unhinged verses excited.
Lots of bands sound good live, but it’s stage presence that makes a show great.
For a group as big and diverse as BROCKHAMPTON, the chemistry and balance they presented on stage was almost unbelievable.
In more traditional boy bands and girl bands, competition for the spotlight causes palpable tension.
BROCKHAMPTON, conversely, really wanted to perform as BROCKHAMPTON, not act as a vehicle to launch solo careers.
Each member had the opportunity to shine. When not taking the lead, bandmates would get just as psyched as the crowd. Kevin Abstract’s verse about being gay in “JUNKY,” McLennon’s verse in “SWEET” and JOBA’s violently angry bridge in “HEAT” all stood out as being particularly powerful live.
The group finished the show with their second performance of “STAR” (off the first installment of the “SATURATION” trilogy), name dropping celebrities, “promoting the gay agenda” and feeding off each other’s energy as they had all throughout the show.