The beloved collective take to the O2 Academy Brixton for their final solo show.
2019 feels like a lifetime ago, right? Well for Brockhampton fans, it feels even longer. When I purchased tickets over two years ago to see arguably one of my favourite bands since One Direction (I must admit, the lyrics of “BOOGIE” resonate with me on a deeper level), I assumed that I would be treated to a standard performance of what was then their most recent release, Ginger. But, with the pandemic setting in shortly after my purchase and the show having been pushed back multiple times, what started off as a promise of a random London-bound night transformed into something much more profound. With the band’s indefinite hiatus pending for over a year now, I was shocked, ecstatic and emotional to read Kevin Abstract’s recent statement in which he explained that, aside from their upcoming Coachella stint, their Tuesday night show at Brixton’s coveted O2 Academy, to which I still held a ticket, would be Brockhampton‘s final one, ever. And, what a show it was.
As myself and fellow Brockhampton fanatic, Matt, rolled up to the venue, an excitable wave washed over us both as the magnitude of the show we were about to witness began to set in. And, after a quick trip to the merch stand (yes, I am wearing my Brockhampton Euro Trip t-shirt as I write this), it was time to wade into the masses of anticipatory fans, abuzz with an intangible blend of excitement, nerves and, of course, heartache. And, while emotions were high, as the whirl of the “BUZZCUT” introduction stirred, all of that melted away.
Embarking on what can best be described as a whistlestop tour through their discography, bar their debut album ALL-AMERICAN TRASH, it became clear that this show was about the fans and their favourite cuts as classics such as “BLEACH” and “GOLD” weaved themselves in between the melodic anthem that is “SUGAR”, culminating in a chaotic setlist reflective of the demographic of the crowd – of which the ragers and sad girls were easily distinguishable. And, while being dragged between contrasting vibes may seem like a slightly hectic experience, Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, Joba, Bearface, Merlyn Wood, Dom McLennon, and Jabari Manwa ensured that it was anything but that. With the collective channelling undeniable energy into each bar, thrusting their bodies into the air with every beat drop and giving their whole selves over to the music in the way that true artists do, they put on a show that allowed viewers to become wholly consumed by the art they were witnessing on the stage. And, while choosing favourites is never an easy task when it comes to the songs of a live performance, for the sake of ensuring this remains a review, I will admit that “BLEACH”, “1999 WILDFIRE”, “SUMMER” and “BOOGIE” were some of the standout performances of the night.
While sonically electric, it would be wrong for me to avoid mention of the set here also. With visuals playing a key part in the band since its beginnings, the psychedelic backdrops and ambient lava lamp-esque whirl of colours of the show stood as a sweet ode to past album covers and music videos alike. And, what would a Brockhampton show be without that well known, layered bench set up? While I have watched many YouTube videos and clips of the guys performing, there is something most endearing and magnetising about watching the collective lounge effortlessly on their set mid-track with your own two eyes.
While all of the above is proof enough that last night was one sure to be etched into the memories of everyone that attended, there is one more element to the evening that cannot go undiscussed: the sheer volume of emotions on the band’s behalf. From countless calls to the crowd regarding keeping each other safe during the more energetic performances – words that came to fruition as the show was abruptly paused in aid of a fan who had fainted, I might add – to declarations of adoration and thanks to those watching, the collective made it clear that while the end is upon us, they will forever cherish their Brockhampton days. And, as the whole night came to a climax, and the boys seemingly left the stage forever, we were treated to one of the most intimate conversations I have ever seen occur on stage – or off the stage, I should say. After cries for one more song, the crowd was lulled into a state of silence whilst hopefully gazing at a dark and emptied stage, only to bear witness to each member of the band offering their sentiments and feelings towards the inevitable end, an event that had everyone listening in a sombre trance. But, with this being Brockhampton, the night could not end on a low. So, as the blare of “BOOGIE” filled our ears, and the boys jumped back on stage for a final round, we were invited to rage one last time. A fitting swan song to their whirlwind of a career, the show was all-consuming, enchanting and truly magical.
With this having been my first, and most likely last, time seeing the band in action, I will leave you with the biggest takeaway from the evening: while the band is over, it really is Brockhampton forever.