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Reviews

BROCKHAMPTON – BELVOIR AMPHITHEATER

BROCKHAMPTON
BELVOIR AMPHITHEATER
10 January

Photos By Chris Symes

Shadow was the perfect support act for Brockhampton, warming the slowly filling amphitheater from a soft simmer to a boil in a short but sweet set. He had a massive 2019 signing to Golden Era Records and supporting Hilltop Hoods on their national tour. He has a great stage presence for an emerging artist and is truly pushing Perth rap to a new level. With artists like Wombat and ChillinIT pushing raw Aussie Rap to the masses on the East coast Shadow is WA’s strongest response. OD Clan’s Shadow started his set with arguably his most popular track ‘School High’ an epic high school anthem about smoking weed which features a verse from the Sydney rapper ChillinIT. With Bace Kadet (Shadow’s DJ) not only on the decks but really stepping it up as a hype-man the track worked as a perfect introduction to who Shadow is, what he’s about and set the tone for the rest of the set. Moving into other solid tracks like “League Of My Own”, and “Cream” showing off his unique style and bars.

Shadow is representing for Western Australia and is the first Perth rapper to really step up into the big leagues. He definitely has the potential and skill to take it even further. The three words I would use to describe his set are the same three I used to describe JuiceWRLD set in my last review. Namely energy, energy, ENERGY!! Shadow came out with a job to do and it was no secret he even said “My job is to get you ready for Brockhampton” and went on to pump as much energy into that amphitheater as he could.

He showed superior stage presence and tremendous crowd engagement when he did an “Energy Test” where he split the room with Bace Kadet and invited each side to make more noise than the other. The crowd responded in full force and it really got the people going. The easy highlight from his set for me was his performance of his new single “My City” an epic trap banger with a dope flow, showing love to his hometown Perth. I couldn’t help but love that he changed the lyrics to “our city” allowing the crowd to feel even more connected with his set. Have a listen to “My City” for yourself below and get down to his “My City” National Tour taking place around Australia Day. His Perth fans have already shown love and that show is sold out. Be quick the others will sell out too.

Brockhampton are truly something special. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like it before. The energy before their set was electric. The stage was quickly set up with a staircase center stage leading up to a platform, with two giant inflatable blue hands palms up on both sides. All the lights went out so you couldn’t see a thing and Rhianna’s hit “Stay” started playing through the amphitheater with an eerie voice saying “question everything” repeatedly. I thought what a way to start a show not even a Brockhampton song yet and they already have everyone singing along.
They kicked the night off with a track from the new album Ginger called “ST. PERCY”. A song that begins with and features a real heavy bassline throughout. A very impactful switch up from the chilled guitar of the Rhianna intro.

Kevin Abstract made quite the entrance donning orange overalls, a white tee and a black baseball cap, spitting a fire first verse. Matt Champion followed for the second verse in the same get up minus the cap. Enter Dom McLennon wearing the exact same spitting absolute fire as usual. Then out comes Bearface followed by Merlin and Joba all wearing the same orange overalls doing their thing. They have a crazy stage presence and connection between each other that you can clearly see like an aura. These guys aren’t just a boy band. They’re best friends doing what they love while loving what they’re doing. It’s a fucking vibe. Looking around me everyone was having a good time.

Brockhampton absolutely blew me away. They’re six different people with six totally different personas that work so cohesively together on stage but still maintain their own identities. Along with the other seven members (13 in total) who work behind the stage namely photographer, manager, videographer and producers. They are a fully self-sustained independent label/collective/boyband tipping the music industry on it’s head. Showing the next generation that you don’t need the big labels to be successful. You can do it yourself. All you have to do is question everything, be brave and move different.

I loved the on-stage choreography. At times it seemed very chaotic, and free formed then suddenly they would sync perfectly up for a brief second which I first noticed and loved in Dom McLennon’s first verse in the third track “If You Pray Right”, showing me true professionalism, it may have seemed random but every move, note, second of the show was meticulously planned. The set kicked into third gear when they played the absolute classic “GOLD” from their first SATURATION album. I didn’t get around the two new albums as much as the Saturation Trilogy (yeah in 2017 they dropped 3 full length albums). However, they skipped Ameer Vann’s verse and went straight into Merlins which is understandable. I honestly wasn’t expecting them to play any of the tracks that had Ameer in them but I’m so glad they did. It went off. After Gold they invited around 20 fans on stage with them and yelled out can “I get a hell yeah, can I get a hell yeah, can I get an I’m gay, can I get an I’m gay” before dropping the absolute anthem QUEER. With the massive bassline, trap drums and hook “don’t go running your mouth, don’t go running your mouth” and everybody on stage wilin’ out it was a definite highlight of the night. The song also shows tremendous depth, song writing prowess and contrast from Brockhampton. Switching from a massive hype track to a slow ballad seamlessly, reminiscent of many Childish Gambino songs. At the end of QUEER the crowd continued singing the words acapella “And Waco is far away, I don’t even mind, As long as you stay right here, right next to my side”, swaying arms to the beat.

The screaming amphitheater acapella continued with Kevin leading us straight into 1999 WILDFIRE with his fans singing every word without skipping a beat “My hands up I let go, my mouth is getting cold, I know they come and go Lalalalalalala.” The next standout moment for me was when they mashed HONEY and DISTRICT from their IRIDESCENCE album with Dom McLennon standing at the top of the platform spitting another fire verse. With Joba also shining brightly with his part “praise god, hallelujah I’m still depressed.” Joba really turned up for the last 4 tracks from HEAT onwards. Soon as he screamed his strained vocals “FUCK YOU! I BREAK YA NECK SO YOU CAN WATCH YOUR BACK” it was as if he switched personas into something resembling rage against the machine and honestly stole the show for me.

The set was honestly crazy energetic with hundreds of fans packed into the floor of the amphitheatre. On stage they would say “make a circle, split the crowd” trying to start a mosh but because the crowd was so tightly packed it didn’t really work. It would have been hectic in there and it was really nice when between songs they would check in with fans, asking if everyone was doing ok. It just showed a deeper level of empathy and helped them connect with their fans even more. Towards the end I swear Ameer Vann’s voice came through the speakers saying that “he loves all people, all creeds, all religions. You may come from the other side of the block and rep different colours but we’re all people and he loves everyone” or something like that, I’m paraphrasing. I wish I filmed it because I thought it was a very sincere nod of respect to the lost member. I lost love for Brockhampton when Ameer left because I loved the thug element, he brought to the boy band, but I think I was unjustified and the whole scandal rocked everyone in the group. It made me think that most of the tracks namely DEARLY DEPARTED and BIG BOY from the new album Ginger are subtle nods to what went down behind the scenes and how the group struggled to pick up the pieces. We’ll never know what really went down but it’s safe to say that with soft songs like SUGAR, BLEACH, BIG BOY, NO HALO and heavy tracks like HEAT, ST. PERCY and the perfectly balanced like QUEER, GOLD and 1999 WILDFIRE – Brockhampton are a multifaceted, multilayered group that can really do it all. With the release of GINGER and they’re performance on this leg of the world tour it looks like they’ve successfully picked up the pieces and are still on the up.

The end of the night saw a few more really amazing moments. During the song HOTTIE they got everyone to hold up their phone lights turning the amphitheatre into a sea of lights. They really turned up once more for the second last song BOOGIE from the SATURATION III album before ending the show with the first track from GINGER, “NO HALO”. A pop-rap song with a nice acoustic guitar melody, featuring beautiful vocals from a female LA based vocalist Deb Never, which added a memorable touch to the finale. Before they left the stage they went through each band member allowing the crowd to cheer for each individually before saying “thank you so much Australia! We love you we’re praying for you”, which amidst the fires was really amazing. All in all, best live show I’ve seen in a while. They are truly phenomenal artists. Allowing hip-hop to be easily accessible to new listeners through their music while still staying true to its roots. I’m going to give them 4 out of 5 only because I’m salty they didn’t play SWEET. Such a good night with so many great songs. Thank you BROCKHAMPTON.

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