Live Review

Brockhampton, KOKO, London

20th August 2018

KOKO welcomes the All-American boyband for a cacophonous show that paints them as the most exciting group on the planet.

Not many bands make their first trip abroad to be welcomed by hordes of diehard fans, and two sizeable shows that sell out in thirty seconds, but then again not many bands drum up adoration quite like Brockhampton. A queue snakes up half of Camden High Street an hour before doors are flung upon for the first of two shows at KOKO tonight, and the intense anticipation for what’s to follow is immediately evident.

Across 2017, with the release of their trilogy of ‘Saturation’ LPs, the Kevin Abstract-led, self-professed boyband became one of the most exciting musical prospects on the planet, teaming the riotous energy of their natural predecessors Odd Future with the scream-worthy boyband characteristics of One Direction and boybands of the ilk. Both of these sides come out to play tonight.

New track ‘1998 TRUMAN’ has only been out in the world for a matter of weeks, but the second its ominous opening blasts its way through the KOKO speakers, and Merlyn Wood gallops on stage to spit its first relentless bars, it’s greeted as a classic, every word barked back as the six-piece join him on the stage - which already proves far too small for the band’s limitless ambition before the first song’s even done - with the energy of a pack of yappy dogs.

Kevin Abstract, who brought Brockhampton together back in 2015, takes the lead as frontman tonight, egging his bandmates on through their impassioned verses and geeing up a crowd - a crowd that doesn’t really need any more geeing up - between songs. He also leads the crowd through an acapella rendition of ‘Saturation III’ track ‘BLEACH’ with the confidence of a seasoned veteran.

In the way that One Direction were received at every show, ear-splitting screams greet the introduction of every next member as their first verses of the night unfold. From Merlyn’s crazed booming raps to the brilliant, dark verses of Matt Champion and Joba’s wonderfully energetic, intricate contributions, the boyband mentality - both among fans and the band themselves - runs through the entire show: everyone in attendance has their favourite member, and let them know it at piercing volumes.

One minute, the band are standing on speaker stacks, encouraging circle pits and dancing manically in the eyeballs of the front row; the next, they’re serenading their way through slower cuts, taking their seats on swings suspended at the back of the stage - the 2010s equivalent of Westlife and Boyzone getting off their stools for the key change? - each slowly pacing forwards to deliver their verse, before retreating once again. The duality of the performance, and of Brockhampton as a whole, is impossible to avoid. The way that they traverse genre boundaries - and consequently traditional fanbases - is what makes them so unique, exciting, and set to go the whole way and deliver on the promise they’ve shown - to become one of the biggest bands in the world.

Songs from ‘Saturation II’ bring the biggest singalongs and swells in the amassed throng on the floor, so much that it feels like they could burst through the walls and out onto the street at any point. There’s an insatiable, vital feel to every second of tonight, and the sense that everyone who managed to beg, steal or borrow a ticket is witnessing something truly special - as well as the start of something even bigger - is unavoidable.

Bearface gets his moment to shine, bringing his guitar and beautiful falsetto to a rendition of ‘SUMMER’ before ‘BOOGIE’ proves the ecstatic, life-affirming set closer it was written to be, and the band depart. They return briefly to crash their way through most recent track ‘1997 DIANA’ again - it’d already been played mid-set - and once again, they’re gone, the momentum of being the most exciting band on the planet fuelling their every step.

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