A line of anxious fans circled around the corner of 8th Avenue and Lincoln Street on Friday night. The anticipation only continued to build as another hour passed before the up-and-coming rap collective Brockhampton took the stage at the sold-out WOW Hall.
Romil Hemnani — the band’s producer and DJ — arrived on stage at 9 p.m., providing the tightly packed audience with an engaging opening set. Fans belted the lyrics to familiar songs from artists like Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Travis Scott and Migos.
As the prospect of the band coming on stage grew stronger with each song, the audience achieved new levels of rowdiness. One of the venue’s PA speakers had to be repaired after crowd members shook the double-stacked speakers so violently that a cord appeared to become disconnected.
Once the technical issues were resolved, Hemnani queued the hollow bass and snare hits that begin Brockhampton’s “HEAT,” sparking a rambunctious crowd reaction.
One by one, each member of the self-proclaimed “all-American boy band” entered through WOW Hall’s back door and onto the stage. At the end of each verse, the respective rapper collapsed to the ground.
Fans greeted Kevin Abstract — the band’s leader and creative visionary — with a mass of applause and cheers as he was the final member appeared on stage. “I love you, Kevin” echoed through the hall.
Brian Kinnes, a close friend of the band who attended the show Friday night, accompanied Abstract on his solo tour last year. According to Kinnes, a majority of the concerts on Abstract’s 2016 tour were sold out, but since the release of Brockhampton’s third record, “SATURATION II,” live shows have improved significantly.
“The energy is just a lot better on this tour,” Kinnes said. “Last tour was still really good, but something is different on this one.”
One of the most impressive moments of the night came with the band’s performance of “JUNKY.”
“Dang Kevin, why do you always gotta rap about being gay?” Abstract said sarcastically before beginning the song. “You spend every song rapping about how you’re gay. Like we get it, bro, you’re gay.”
On the song, Abstract answers his own question by rapping, “‘Why you always rap about bein’ gay?’ Cause not enough niggas rap and be gay.” Abstract continues to discuss his sexuality and the homophobia that permeates the rap industry throughout the track.
The band’s sarcasm and light-hearted humor set the tone for rest of the show after this semi-serious moment. Members often joked with each other during breaks and even in the middle of songs.
“Can ya’ll help us on this next song?” Abstract said. “Can ya’ll help us shake that ass? Security? Can ya’ll help us shake that ass? CAN YA’LL HELP US SHAKE THAT ASS?”
Laughter ensued and hands dropped to the floor as the band began its performance of “JELLO.” In the middle of the song, Abstract urged fellow collective member Ameer Vann to twerk on stage. While Vann’s attempt was half-hearted, the crowd received it well.
An emotional moment came towards the end of the night with the band’s playing of “BUMP.” As the song went on, people pulled their significant others close, friends could be seen throwing arms around each other’s shoulders and the entire crowd joined the band in celebration.
“Now sing it like it’s the last day on earth!” Abstract instructed.
“When this ends, at least I’ll have a reason to live,” the crowd chanted repeatedly.
After the house lights rose and the crowd began to clear out of the sweaty concert hall, one thing was certain: Brockhampton will perform at a much larger venue and charge a significantly more expensive ticket next time it comes to Eugene. That is if they come at all.
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