Local Current Blog

BROCKHAMPTON challenge gender and race norms at Music Hall

Brockhampton at Music Hall on Feb. 15, 2018. Photo by Ashlan Grey.

On Thursday, Feb. 15, BROCKHAMPTON played to a sold-out crowd at Music Hall in downtown Minneapolis.

Standing at about six feet, a young fan in an orange jumpsuit moves quickly through the line. It’s 14 degrees outside, but it feels like it could be negative 30. He doesn’t seem to care that with just his thin outfit, he’s a few minutes away from frostbite. There actually is a trail of disposed clothing and blankets along the sidewalk. Though he’s only two people in line from being carded, he turns and runs back down the steps. “Oh s—, I just ran out of battery,” he says. An older cynic in line scoffs, “What would you do at a concert without your phone?”

What the elder cynic failed to recognize was that attending a BROCKHAMPTON show is as much of a social experience as it is a chance to sweat out your jumpsuit. Maybe he needed his phone to document the experience. The sold-out crowd was packed to the brim, seemingly hanging from the walls of the room. At this 15+ event, the energy felt new. “New” meaning a crowd of fans that didn’t take their cues from previous concerts or the “old guard,” but instead from the band they most likely have only seen on their extensive YouTube catalog.

BROCKHAMPTON is a 15-member crew based in California but started by Corpus Christi native Kevin Abstract. The group defies plenty of the Hip-Hop norms. Band members hail from the Caribbean island of Grenada, Northern Ireland, and cities across Texas and Florida. The band is seemingly “balanced” along racial lines. Members of the band are openly queer. At several points in the night, the self-proclaimed “boy band” figurehead Abstract reminded us, using comments like, “I’m a faggot/ I say it/ I scream that s— like I mean it” and, “Tell your mom and dad BROCKHAMPTON is pushing that gay agenda on their children.” These statements were taken both as serious affirmations and as tongue-in-cheek.

The in-your-face discussion on race gave the crowd no time to do anything but give a raw response. Picking a kid out of the crowd, Abstract said, “What’s your name?” “Jason,” the fan said.  Kevin quickly stated to the audience, “When I say f— you n—, I want you to say f— you n—!” After the first time around, he corrected the crowd, saying, “No, I wanted you to call him Jason.” For the rest of the night, the mostly White crowd avoided the five-letter “n” word. A genius way to address race dynamics through humor.

Somewhere between the sea of bouncing bodies and the word-for-word recital, our six-foot hero got lost in the crowd. Probably because there were plenty of others wearing the same outfit from the band’s extensive clothing collection. It was truly an atmosphere of people in on a conversation, open to trying something new. BROCKHAMPTON definitely has their finger on the pulse of the youth.

Notable Moments: Robert Ontenient’s guitar solo. A night-ending mosh pit. Parents in the back of the room laughing to the question from stage, “Who’s angry?”

Biggest Song Reactions: “Bleach,” “Heat”

Moral of the Story:  The new generation has their own unapologetic view of the world. Through the power of social media, you can go outside of the normal framework to find people that are of like mind. When you bring great music and a good time into the mix, you have a serious movement on your hands.

All photos by Ashlan Grey courtesy of Brockhampton.