From the start, being a BROCKHAMPTON fan has come with a bittersweet acceptance of knowing it wouldn’t last; but knowing when to gracefully step down always seemed wiser than burning out as mediocre.
BROCKHAMPTON open with a testament. A subtle, kaleidoscopic visual glows off the back curtain before Kevin Abstract rushes onto the stage amid smoke pyrotechnics to rip through the explosive opening line to “BUZZCUT”. As the other, six members of the collective join him on stage, their looming hiatus seems a distant memory. They’ve been talking about it for years, and yet, here they still are, largely clad in navy boilersuits that we’ve seen variations of between their distinctive eras.
After a whirlwind rise, the 14 January announcement that this week’s two BROCKHAMPTON shows in London would be their last (asides from Coachella) was met with hysteria. It seemed an inevitable conclusion – over ten years since their inception, they’ve consistently pushed boundaries with an unwavering collective and cohesive vision. From dropping three, well-loved albums in a year, to then following those up with equally unique records, it’s been no less than a respectable feat.
On stage, BROCKHAMPTON don’t give any clues to their collective or individual futures, but if this is them bowing out for good, they’re doing it on a high. It’s an arresting and career-spanning set, with fans new and old enjoying a chronological, whistle-stop tour of their best moments.
With frenetic energy from both the crowd and the group, “GOLD” goes down a storm as each member is keen to prove their chops in their respective verses. Before transitioning into “FACE”, the house lights come up as Joba points for help to those at the front of the crowd. “If you see someone fall down, help them up for real,” he sets as a reminder.
Older hits “SWEET” and “GUMMY” lead the fervent nature of SATURATION II – the former seeing Merlyn Wood switch up his flow three times with his boom-bap bars. In the way that boybands are typically received, 5,000 ear-splitting screams greet the arrival of each member as their verses unfold. The group, too, offer each other hype and space in equal parts for their talent, with Matt Champion’s intricate contributions being a notable highlight.
Though, the evening hits a peak halfway through when special guest Slowthai arrives on stage to perform “HEAVEN BELONGS TO YOU” and a rendition of his own “Doorman”. A grandmaster of chaos, he comes accessorised with his direct yet endearing chatter as he shouts to the crowd, “show me what you’ve fucking got bluds.” One minute, BROCKHAMPTON are jumping manically at his side and encouraging most pits; the next they’re sat down on the stacked staging and crooning their way through singalong slow cuts (“SUGAR”).
Pure duality and kinetic exuberance lead the night into the final era, ROADRUNNER: NEW LIGHT NEW MACHINE, and it comes with a vital turning point. BROCKHAMPTON’s music has long relied on an ability to connect with their fans, but, for no lack of trying, the crowd reaction becomes mixed for the last portion of the performance. On-stage, the energy remains high for “BOY BYE”, “BANKROLL”, and standout track “DON’T SHOOT UP THE PARTY”, but, on the floor, there’s a lingering question of whether they’ll jump back to earlier tracks to round off the night.
As Bearface steps to centre stage, the end becomes clear. “SUMMER” leads an ethereal, dreamlike ending to the last moments of the band’s superior reign, all the while encapsulating the collective emotion, history, and infatuation the group has cultivated since their origin. For some, it’s a non-conclusion to their final experience as they chant for an encore, but for many, it raises the question: in the internet age, does anything truly die forever?
Heaven Belongs To You (with Slowthai)
Doorman (with Slowthai)
What’s the Occasion?
Don’t Shoot Up The Party