Texas-based rap group BROCKHAMPTON brought precise lyrical mastery to its performance at The Fillmore Silver Spring on Jan. 28, with unbridled energy that electrified the crowd.
The group, which broke into the mainstream in 2017 with its “SATURATION” album trilogy, has a penchant for interweaving silky hooks and vulnerable moments between hard-hitting beats and manic rhymes. The group’s appearance at the Fillmore Silver Spring was the ninth stop on the 2018 “Love Your Parents” tour.
Although the stage setup was bare-bones — the platform was adorned with little more than a traffic light on the left and a pedestrian crossing sign on the right — BROCKHAMPTON captivated the audience with an impressive stage presence as band members bounced to the beat, nailing every word of their complex verses with bravado in their bright orange prison jumpsuits.
The young crowd rewarded the group’s efforts with enthusiastic cheers, arms raised as they shouted back some of BROCKHAMPTON’s most memorable lines, such as “Keep a gold chain on my neck / Fly as a jet, boy, better treat me with respect” during the performance of the song “GOLD.”
Preferring to let its music speak for itself, BROCKHAMPTON said little to the audience. The most memorable interaction was when a band member roused the audience to yell “F—k Pitchfork,” referring to a prominent online music magazine that gave BROCKHAMPTON’s latest releases lukewarm reviews.
Regardless of the group’s critical reception, audience members from the Maryland and Washington, D.C. areas clearly adore the self-proclaimed “boy band” that sold out the 2,000-person capacity Fillmore. Crowds filled almost the entire ground floor and lined the second-floor balconies, but there was still enough space in the back for any claustrophobic audience members. Further into the fray, the crowd was lively but not wild, creating a pleasant experience for fans of all energy levels.
BROCKHAMPTON began its set with the infectiously energetic “BOOGIE,” and the group members brought the venue to life as the crowd roared, obeying the band’s commands to “Jump! Jump!” with fervor.
Although lead singer Kevin Abstract lost his voice and was unable to perform, fellow member Ameer Vann performed Abstract’s parts admirably, bringing energy to the absent member’s hook on “SWAMP.” BROCKHAMPTON had clear chemistry onstage, and the collaborative nature of the group’s songs made for an engaging spectacle as the focus and microphone jumped from one member to another.
BROCKHAMPTON’s songs often employ pitch-shifted vocals, which cannot be recreated live. For these sections, it was clear that the back tracks were played as loud or louder than the voices of the performers. As such, it was difficult to determine the extent to which the performance was genuinely live and how much was simply digital recordings of BROCKHAMPTON played at high volume.
However, the ambiguity did not diminish the concert experience, as all members delivered their verses with precision and enthusiasm; the resulting clarity was a welcome break from rap concerts where the artists’ out-of-breath, shouted vocals make the music difficult to enjoy.
The show was relatively short because of its lack of openers, but fans still received a satisfying sampling of BROCKHAMPTON’s material, with songs from all three SATURATION albums including tracks “ZIPPER,” “QUEER” and “BOYS.”
The highest-energy songs were placed near the middle of the concert, before the melodic “BLEACH” transitioned into performances of the group’s more stripped-back tracks. During “TEAM,” the singer Bearface took center stage, pouring his heart out before contributing a passionate electric guitar solo as a glistening disco ball descended from the ceiling.
BROCKHAMPTON then switched abruptly from this sentimental tone into its final song of the night, “HEAT.” It preceded the aggressive track by asking the crowd, “Who’s angry in here? Sing along if your job sucks, if you hate you school, if you’re pissed off … ” It was a strange note to end on, as the audience left the venue filled with rage after shouting along with the rancorous lyrics of “HEAT.”
The rap group brought the same attention to detail to its live show as it does to its records, performing a mix of hard-hitting bangers and emotionally resonant ballads with panache. Although it lacked elaborate theatrics, BROCKHAMPTON had plenty of charisma, carrying the show on the merits of the group’s dynamic sound and stage presence.