The way a band stylizes their name doesn’t always say something about their group’s stage presence, but when it rains, it pours. BROCKHAMPTON — and all of the boy band’s songs in ALL CAPS — are an all in, all energy wall of sound. Monday night, the six performing members of BROCKHAMPTON (the group has several additional, behind-the-scenes members) took Mission Ballroom by a storm of orange overalls, blasting smoke machines and unstoppable teen energy. Their Denver performance was their second-to-last on their North American tour, “Heaven Belongs to You.”
The night opened with BROCKHAMPTON’s first opener, 100 gecs. The duo is described as “experimental,” and their performance lived up to the label. Originally from St. Louis, Laura Les and Dylan Brady brought a sound that was eerie, punk, pop and just plain weird. The stage was lit green and there was a witch hat, of course. It was a beginning note of dissonance that primed the crowd.
slowthai was along for the majority of BROCKHAMPTON’s tour, and his Denver performance picked up the energy lost from cities he missed. The British rapper had the crowd going wild, teaching and inciting everyone to say “get the fuck out of my face” if anyone starts “talking shit.” slowthai parted the crowd, surfed the crowd and tried to start a mosh by telling the crowd to run “anti-clockwise.” By the time slowthai pulled out an American flag that bore the words “Fuck Trump,” draped around his shoulders and continued to ricochet around the stage, the audience was in a frenzy. The energy bar for the night had been set, and only total anarchy would be allowed.
When I ran track, the coach didn’t want us to wear matching clothes to the meet. The team jacket was enough, and although we were a team, he wanted us to look like individuals. This was with the thought that a group is worth more as the sum of its parts when all the parts are a little different. That is all I could think about as the members of BROCKHAMPTON — Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, Merlyn Wood, Dom McLennon, Joba and Bearface — entered the stage, each skip, gait and microphone grip a little different. Everyone wore orange overalls, but every pair was stylized a little differently.
Uniqueness under the title of “boy band” has been a characterization that’s propelled BROCKHAMPTON to fame and its enormous fan base. They are a “boy band” in the sense that they are a group of young men with a lot of production to their sound, but they’re also unhinged, uncapped and a little wild. Kevin Abstract, the founder of the group, made waves in the rap community by coming out as gay in 2016.
BROCKHAMPTON’s set opened with an instrumental of Rihanna’s song “Stay.” Once everyone was on stage and had their introductory moment, the group jumped into “If You Pray Right.” From there, BROCKHAMPTON amped up the anarchy with a medley of songs from their many albums (their most recent, Ginger, was released this year.) There was the typical crowd parting, flurried attempts at moshing, and infectious energy between artist and fan. A highlight of the night was when the group pulled a couple handfuls — at least 10 — of fans onto the stage. They were handpicked for their energy, and had the opportunity of a lifetime to dance with BROCKHAMPTON to “Queer.”
BROCKHAMPTON is a diamond in the rough — an unapologetic boyband that challenges its label and urges its critics to reconsider their stereotypes about what it means to be a hip-hop artist. The group closed their set with the song “No Halo,” fitting with their tour theme. They kept the crowd alive, made it impossible not to participate, and kept it humble by introducing each member by name, twice. The fever BROCKHAMPTON fans had while watching the group at Mission Ballroom was the type of infectious response such a performance deserves.