Brockhampton’s concert felt equally exciting and bittersweet. The gig was held at the O2 Brixton Academy, a venue many artists aspire to perform in. A few weeks ago the band officially announced their break-up (phrased by them as an indefinite hiatus) and entire tour cancellation, with the exception of their two London dates, February 7th and 8th, and Coachella. I was lucky to have bought tickets for London’s second night back in 2019 when the tour was first announced. After two years of postponed dates due to Covid-19, and after finding out I’d be attending their last gig as a group, I can say I was excited.
Olivia and I travelled down to London on the day by train, had dinner in Brixton, and headed straight to the venue. The first thing that caught my attention was the amount of young people queuing up around the O2 — and when I say around, I mean the queue went all the way around the block (it was sold out, and 5000 people had to enter the venue).
Once we made our way inside, my first thoughts were confirmed: the demographic was very young — 99% of people were between 20 and 25. Only after the gig did I see one man who looked to be in his 30s. In terms of the gender split, the audience was predominantly male, but with a considerable amount of women as well. It was a diverse crowd, at least to my eyes — I come from a predominantly white middle-sized city in Spain, and it was London after all.
As soon as we entered the venue, we bumped into a heavily crowded merch stall selling t-shirts, hoodies and caps from £35 to £70. Spenny, but the merch was pretty rad. For the first hour (doors opened at 7pm), most people spent their time buying merch, making use of the cloakroom, getting drinks and going to the toilet. I thought the venue worked really efficiently — queues moved fast, there were plenty of staff and security, and it was highly organised. Those most passionate about being at the front were, well, claiming their spot as close as possible to the stage.
Once we got all our things sorted, Olivia and I headed into the main venue. We were roughly around the middle, near the mixing desk. People were pretty spaced out at this point, and some people came to make conversation with us, asking about the band, how long had we been fans for, and whatnot. We quickly noticed people smoking weed in the venue. As a short girl, my favourite thing about the venue was that it’s tilted, so we could still get a pretty decent view. The architecture of the upper area of the venue had some sort of Roman colosseum design, something we were slightly confused about.
Around 8pm the opener act came out. It was Christian Alexander, a young boy I had never heard of before. As a first impression from a few songs, the guy seemed pretty bland and novice, playing songs with a singer-songwriter style to it, switching between playing chords on an acoustic and electric guitar, or just singing. He was backed by a drummer, and a keyboard player on one song, from what I got from my view. I assumed everything else was played as a backing track. I have to give him the fact that the sound was quite shit — the guitar and voice sounded flat and the drums overtook them. I was surprised he was the opening act to a hip-hop group. By the end of his set, I was pretty sleepy.
We had to wait until a bit after 9pm for Brockhampton to come out; that was standard timing. I was worried I wouldn’t feel hyped enough as I felt pretty tired. But then the guys came out, and oh boy, did my energy take a 180 turn as soon as they did. ‘BUZZCUT’, from their last album Roadrunner, started playing and the energy in the room instantly went up immensely — the crowd got packed, it was hot, people cheered and sang at the top of their lungs, and everyone was very engaged in the performance.
The energy kept on going up and as soon as ‘STAR’, the second track, came in, the crowd went so mad Olivia and I were pushed around and lost each other, and I got beer spilled over my head. While surrendering to the mercy of the crowd, we were able to miraculously spot each other and reunite. The setlist was pretty spread between all their discography — covering 7 albums on a 90-minute performance is no easy task. In their harder songs, like ‘GUMMY’ and ‘JUNKY’, the crowd was hyped (as expected in a hip-hop gig), jumping, cheering, singing, and forming the classic mosh pits, often encouraged by the band themselves, asking to ‘open it up’. Several times, the show was stopped due to someone passing out or some sort of other misfortune. No one was surprised, due to the nature of the crowd, and the band handled this really well, prioritising the well-being of their fans.
The setlist also contained some more laid-back tracks like ‘FACE’ and ‘GOLD’. At these points the crowd was more relaxed, but equally engaged — dancing, listening, singing, myself included. The energy in the crowd throughout the gig was what absolutely made the experience for me. The energy, the engagement, and the overall vibe — a group of tall guys in front of me showed concern about whether I could see, and offered to let me go in front of them. I made occasional eye contact with people, and there was a general sense of fandom and community. The setlist also covered their most popular songs, such as ‘SWEET’, ‘SUGAR’, ‘NO HALO’. I was buzzing when I heard ‘DON’T SHOOT UP THE PARTY’ start playing.
Brockhampton’s live set consisted of their main artists — Joba, Kevin, Dom, Matt, Bearface, Merlyn, and Jabari — singing and rapping on stage, wearing their own merch. Their interaction seemed mostly unchoreographed, which gave them a more relaxed and ‘less staged’ presentation than a traditional boyband. Joba, Merlyn and Matt stood out to me from their energy and performance, but I must give it to Joba especially - he was incredible. Bearface seemed to take a more ‘background’ role, as we didn’t hear him and didn’t seem to want the attention on him. I was concerned about there being a bad vibe on stage as we don’t know the reason for their break. Fortunately, I didn’t sense a particularly bad vibe, but they also didn’t seem to feel fully together. They had some stalls and chairs on centre stage to give them some levels to perform, and the lighting consisted mainly of a back screen that matched their visual abstract and modern style and changed slightly with every song.
Their interaction with the audience was quite limited, occasionally hyping the crowd up and showing concern for people being crushed at the front. The sound quality was still pretty shit throughout the whole set, with the mix feeling pretty muddy and the highs and vocals getting often lost, which made it hard at times to recognize the song that was playing. This happened with ‘THE LIGHT’, which is one of my favourites. They closed the gig with ‘SUMMER’, followed by a big ovation from the crowd. As soon as they went off stage, the crowd started to cheer for the encore non-stop. The guys gave us some form of speech in which they thanked their fans for their support, expressed their love, and thanked Kevin for changing their lives. They did this while offstage, and I wish they would have done it on stage. I supposed they were setting up their encore — ‘BOOGIE’, which ended the gig on a high note.
After the gig was done, everyone was highly sweaty and out of breath. People started slowly walking out of the venue, and the general feeling was of bittersweetness (I even overheard a guy saying this to his mates). It was a great gig — with some faults from the band and venue, it still was a pleasure to experience their last ‘exclusive’ performance, especially with a crowd as passionate about them that absolutely made the experience for me. I wish for every gig I attend to have an audience like this.
Over a period of roughly 5-6 years, Brockhampton have given us 7 records with a DIY approach that I absolutely adore. And it just isn’t me – despite the bittersweet goodbye, they leave a great trajectory and discography behind that’ll make them unforgettable, and this was proved to me last night.