Brockhampton | The Ritz | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week
This is a past event.


When: Mon., Jan. 29, 9 p.m. 2018
Price: Sold Out

The members of Brockhampton say they're in a boy band, which is as much an earnest statement as it is a provocation. They know the American public's idea of boy bands ossified when Lou Pearlman launched the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. Pearlman's blueprint posits that such groups must be made up of five white singers who can assume distinct-but-pliable personalities, harmonize to the heavens, and create music as outsize as a summer blockbuster.

Brockhampton doesn't fit the mold. The multi-ethnic Los Angeles rap-cum-pop collective boasts more than a dozen members, roughly half of whom aren't vocalists, but rather producers, photographers, visual artists, and a web developer, Robert Ontinient (he's also a producer, and usually introduces the group's videos as "Roberto"). This is as much a rejection of and tribute to the legacy of boy bands. The groups that preceded Brockhampton were built on tiny but invisible villages of songwriters, topliners, producers, arrangers, managers, and video directors.

Transparency is key to Brockhampton, sometimes described as "the Internet's first boy band" because group leader Kevin Abstract recruited some collaborators through a Kanye West fan forum. That narrative has become a bit of a myth—Abstract's approach to music and their image are couched in the type of transparency that's celebrated online. Their lyrics cover overstuffed pop dreams and mostly broke realities, making art on your own for the sake of it, and what it means to be young and queer in a culture that largely prohibits such a thing.

Yes, Brockhampton does rap—and sing, and employ any sound that skews toward pop. And as the industry has conceded that rap genre is the dominant force in pop, Brockhampton showed they're a force that can make rap music sound like traditional pop and vice versa. After dropping their debut studio album in June, Saturation, they went on to eke out two more full-lengths to complete a Saturation trilogy by the middle of December. What's more, they elevated their stylistically slippery sound with each release, and Saturation III offers a little something for everyone. There's throwback funk-pop ("Boogie"), woeful emo rap ("Bleach"), lovesick rock balladeering ("Team"), swooning R&B ("Rental"), and a clutch of sugary vocal harmonies that can win over fans of outmoded boy bands ("Hottie"). To loosely quote Abstract on "Boogie," the Saturation trilogy makes the case that Brockhampton is the "best boy band since One Direction." —Leor Galil



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