As festival season reaches its crescendo, it is time for some of Europe’s finest cities to steal the limelight back from the US. Just this week we’ve been surfing down at Boardmasters, witnessed Kendrick Lamar bring his DAMN. tour to the continent and chuckled ourselves silly at Arctic Monkeys’ majestic Flow Festival show. But what’s come abundantly clear over the last week, and will continue to, is that its undeniably the summer of Brockhampton.
Following a slew of material in 2017 in the shape of the ‘SATURATION’ trilogy, the band have been a tad more reclusive in 2018. One of their albums, ‘PUPPY’ was delayed (or scrapped) and the band were forced to deal with the fall-out from allegations made against one its members, Ameer – a bunch of tour dates were cancelled to “regroup”.
Now, the self-styled “boy band” are ready to have their moment. Over the last few months, we’ve seen the next phase of Brockhampton with three electrifying singles. First came the chilled-out ‘1999 WILDFIRE’, with the pulsating ‘1998 TRUMAN’ and ‘1997 DIANA’ reviving that streak last year. Their set at Flow Festival in Helsinki proved that they are the band you need to see this summer and that things are only going to get wilder.
‘1998 TRUMAN’ kicks things off, at least 8 members of the revolving collective storm on stage egging each other on to up the ante. The energy doesn’t stop there. Taking turns like the dynamic, game-changing titans they’ve become, watching them bounce around on stage is a complete joy in itself.
Because at the core of what makes this group seem so special is their desire to become trailblazers for what a post-millennial boy band can achieve. The group met on an internet forum in 2015 and have since done things their way ever since – dropping three albums in a year, retaining creative control despite a major-label deal and new influences, like Rick Rubin, finding a way in. This DIY aspect is reflected in their live show – polaroids of the band larking around at home and on holiday during songs like ‘QUEER’ and ‘GUMMY’. Throughout the show, self-shot selfie videos of each member are plastered on the big screen.
But like all good boy bands – there’s plenty of shtick. Throughout the set Kevin Abstract implores the crowd to “put hands in the air like you’re on a rollercoaster” and there’s plenty of choreographed hype-moments. The show’s best moment, however, is actually one of its most intimate. For all their bolshy hip-hop bangers, a stripped back performance of ‘SUMMER’ proves to be the set’s sweetest moment. With the remaining members sat cross-legged on the floor, Ciaran McDonald gives a striking solo performance of a song that’s all about those heady love-affairs on the year’s longest days. A fan on the front row is shown on the big screen bawling their eyes out, proving the emotional pull this group have on their crowds. Told you it was the summer of Brockhampton.