In between the chants of “brock-hamp-ton,” boys in Carhartt beanies and girls in orange jumpsuits guessed what the set list would be for Saturday night. Out of the dozens of tracks released by the band since 2016, what select few would it choose to play in the short 1 ½-hour set? Among the various speculations, one piece of BROCKHAMPTON trivia kept getting thrown into the air: “Did you know they met on a Kanye West fan page?”
The lights went down and the crowd’s cheers reverberated off the Warfield Theatre’s elaborate crown molding. A single bright light drifted, disembodied, across the stage. The spotlights faded to reveal a man, hidden by a painter’s mask and shrouded by a fog that disseminated into the pit. The crowd’s cheering heightened as he put on the iconic orange jumpsuit one leg at a time. When the mask came off, the crowd cheered at the grinning Ameer Vann — the face that’s featured on all three SATURATION album covers. The beat of “BOOGIE” — the first track off the group’s newest album, SATURATION III — introduced the night’s six performers from the self-proclaimed “boy band.”
As the boys delivered their verses, they got the crowd pulsating to the exhilarating flares of the bass in “BOOGIE.” The song wrapped up, the crowd was cheering for the boy band, and founder Kevin Abstract yelled into the mic, “Are you alive?!” — to which the crowd’s deafening screams responded with a unanimous “Yes.” Abstract then yelled, “Fuck Pitchfork!” — the music publication that has never given the band’s album higher than a 7.5/10 rating — and launched the band right into “QUEER,” from SATURATION II.
Onstage, the boy band continued to keep the audience hyped and engaged. Even in the slower song “FACE” — a track from the first SATURATION, led by Russell Boring (better known as Joba) — the audience was completely entranced by the pink-haired boy’s intimate falsetto.
As Joba performed, the band members draped their bodies over the living room furniture onstage. Those who had verses would casually roam to the front of the stage and deliver their words to a wide-eyed audience. At the song’s end, the lights on the stage went down and the instrumentals shut off. The concertgoers took their cue, singing the chorus a cappella directly back to Joba, who smiled as they knew every word.
From the get-go, BROCKHAMPTON has been known to test the limits of what it can do with its music — and this adventurous boundary-pushing didn’t stop when the group got onstage. About two-thirds of the way through, Abstract yelled, “That’s the end. We have no more songs to play.”
The statement brought a wave of boos and laughter from the crowd. After a dance-off between Joba and Dom McLennon, set to Whitney Houston and Rihanna background music, the band turned its mosh pit into a forum for a Q&A with the audience. Many asked about the group’s rise to fame. Others asked about members’ favorite part of the Bay Area. One even inquired as to Joba’s past experiences with taking massive shits — a question to which Joba replied, “That’s the second-best question we’ve ever been asked on tour.”
Through producing, writing and putting out all its own content, BROCKHAMPTON is able to generate a body of work that’s uniquely its own because it’s all on the band’s own terms. The music is so strong because, despite possessing 15 members, it allows for each boy’s individuality to come through.
Nevertheless, Kevin Abstract dominated much of the concert with his presence. He was the main commentator between performances and he controlled much of the discussion between the band and the audience. Because of this, many of the other artists’ presences were overpowered by Abstract’s effect, making the group seem like background to the Kevin Abstract show.
Although Abstract’s lead was very obvious, through the performance of each piece, the members showed their collective passion for music and their dedication to getting the crowd hyped. From the mosh pit to the a cappella moments, the San Francisco show demonstrated how dedicated the BROCKHAMPTON fan base had become in just a few short years.
Annalise Kamegawa covers music. Contact her at [email protected]org.