It’s 7:30 PM on Wednesday the 22nd of August when the doors of the Helix open up to the mob of streetwear and ‘meet me at McDonalds’ haircuts that has gathered outside to see Brockhampton.
Since last year, the California-based musical collective has been catapulted to the top of the international Hip-Hop scene, primarily through the incredible success of their “Saturation” albums.
As the foyer of the venue is flooded with trendy twenty-somethings and swaggy umpteen year olds, there is definitely a unique buzz in the air. Somewhere between the talk of guest-list difficulties, mention of insufficient security and numerous crass comments regarding a recently-departed member of the band, an unusual, albeit not unpleasant atmosphere has been conjured up. On top of this, rumours begin circulating that getting a wristband for the standing area is as simple as telling security that you are standing without even presenting a ticket. This rumour is soon proven to be embarrassingly true. With this knowledge, members of the audience become anxious at the possibility of crushes during the show.
However, towards 9PM, the auditorium begins to fill up and the possibility of a crush becomes unlikely. A whole fifth of the standing area appears to be empty and on top of that, huge portions of the upstairs seating area are completely barren. For a show that sold out in under 2 minutes, the room is eerily empty in parts. The crowd doesn’t care though, the spirits stay high and the atmosphere stays electric as ever.
At about 9:10PM the show begins. 6 young men take to the stage in a uniform of white t-shirts and black jeans, they almost seem to glide as they hop, skip and leap to the beat of ‘1998 TRUMAN’. The crowd explodes into a frenzied sea of arms raised to the sky, bouncing in perfect rhythmic unison, but there is one noticeable issue. It’s almost difficult to hear the songs bone rattling beat over the crowds screams. Maybe the sound engineer has made a mistake, maybe there’s some sort of volume restriction in the helix, whatever the reason, the songs are quiet as hell. In this regard, it seems those in the standing area have drawn the short straw here. The tracks are much more audible from the balcony seats, although they still lack the low frequency ‘thump’ that is essential to a live hip-hop performance.
Regardless of this, the actual performance is a feast for the senses. Between the minimal but beautiful light show, Joba’s angelic falsetto melodies and the laid back flows of Dom on ‘GUMMY’ it’s hard to deny that it’s one hell of a show.
The group truly hold their own on the stage, when they’re not flying about maniacally, they’re lurking and stalking menacingly. It’s a comprehensive masterclass in showmanship. Throughout the show the energy doesn’t seem to dwindle. Even during ‘SUMMER’, a track some might consider a lull in the set, the crowd still grooves along to the outro guitar solo.
It’s truly difficult to find a fault in the group in terms of performance, but the decision making on the encore tracks is perhaps a tad questionable. The group choose to perform ‘1997 DIANA’ and ‘BOOGIE’, both for a second time.
Bringing ‘1997 DIANA’ a second time isn’t too jarring, as the song originally appeared early on in the set, but playing ‘BOOGIE’ twice in ten minutes comes across as a tad gimmicky. Its difficult to say if the group just really enjoy performing these tracks or if it’s down to the recent leave of key member Ameer Vann. Questionable as the encore is, it doesn’t spoil the show and the crowd still love it and at the end of the day that’s what’s most important. Jack Rudden
Photos by Zoe Holman