Concert Review: Brockhampton is Taking the Term “Boy Band” to a New Level

The Hip-Hop Group Stopped by Montreal for their Latest Tour

Although most of Brockhampton’s music is hip-hop, onstage the group gives off a youthful, fraternal chemistry that gives their incessant pushing of the word ‘boy band’ some context. Courtesy Ashlan Grey

“Make some noise for Brockhampton, the greatest boy band in the world,” yelled the group’s leader, Ian Simpson, otherwise known as Kevin Abstract. The crowd roared.

Brockhampton performed at the Corona Theatre on Feb. 6 for their Love Your Parents tour.

To describe their sound as that of a conventional boy band is a stretch; the group is predominantly made up of rappers over particularly percussive production. Most of their music is undeniably hip-hop. On stage, though, the group gives off a youthful, fraternal chemistry that gives their incessant pushing of the word ‘boy band’ some context.

Brockhampton was founded in 2010 by Simpson in Corpus Christi, Texas, a coastal town about three hours south of Houston. There, he met the group’s founding members who were all in Texan high schools at the time. They then went on to meet the rest of the band on KanyeToThe, a hip-hop forum.

Now, they all live in a house in North Hollywood that they call “The Factory.” It’s an apt name given the rate at which they rose to fame. With three albums released in the span of six months in 2017, the group is now wholly on the radar of hip-hop heads.

Given how quickly Brockhampton has risen, their live performance is solidified on the grounds of their camaraderie. The show feels like watching a group of your own friends freestyle at a party.

The group harmony is really founded in the members’ individual talent, which none of them lack. From Ameer Vann’s raw, gritty flows to Joba’s delicate falsettos, each member contributes to the group’s overall sound, which changes from upbeat, synth-driven romps to moody, nostalgic ballads.

It’s a mess held together by a quality standard that is beautifully preserved in the live show. No two members are awkwardly similar, which makes it easy to have a favourite player on the team. Their distinctiveness presents a cast of characters similar to that of a regular boy band.

If there’s anything boy band-esque about this group, it’s their fandom. I spoke to Emily Porter, a 17 year-old Brockhampton fan that had been waiting with friends in front of the venue for the show since 11 a.m. that day. The show didn’t start until 8 p.m.

“I think Brockhampton is so cool because I feel like I could know them, and I love that they are who they are,” Porter said. “They don’t care about anybody else.”

The show was all-ages and the crowd was visibly young. Brockhampton’s members have been together since their high school days and many of their lyrics have a youthful aura, dealing with emerging homosexuality and living in the suburbs as well as incessant messages of self-assurance and self love.

Also reminiscent of a typical boy band is the lightweight nature of many of these sentiments.

“At a Brockhampton show, ‘fuck you’ means ‘I love you,’” Simpson insisted throughout the show. The crowd loved this, as they tried to get Simpson to take selfies on their phone with them.

But it ultimately came off as thin. Simpson is the clear leader of the group onstage, and almost all of this faux-inspiring talk came from him. The rest of the group took a backseat during these interludes and seemed to let it happen. Much of the crowd appreciated it, though, and made it clear that the boys had a loyal following to their message.

I always used to describe Brockhampton to people as a super-proficient rap group with a tightly-curated aesthetic. Seeing them perform makes me lean hard towards describing them as a rap boy band, a group of friends that perform in matching jumpsuits with a captivating group dynamic.

At the ripe age of 20, whether or not I’m nearing the ceiling of their target demographic is another question. What’s unmistakeable is that with three rock-solid albums, a fourth on the way this year, and a dedicated following, Brockhampton is here to stay.