2018 has been a year of great highs and lows for ‘America’s Favorite Boy-band.’ As the final installment of the Saturation trilogy came out in December 2017, their following continued to grow on their Love Your Parents Tour; by April, they were signed to RCA Records. PUPPY, which was supposed to be released as their first album under a record label, was put on halt following sexual assault allegations against their (now) ex-member Ameer Vann. Thankfully, at the end of September BROCKHAMPTON released their fourth studio album iridescence. iridescence remains true to BROCKHAMPTON’s brand: a multitude of different styles and genres coming together for one cohesive yet dynamic project. We also were able to see them live at Terminal 5 last month, and it definitely was worth the long, cold wait in line.
What makes iridescence unique is that although a rap album often tells a cohesive storyline through its lyrics, BROCKHAMPTON utilizes a somewhat homogeneous soundscape to tell the unique stories of each member. iridescence marks the creation of a new sound for BROCKHAMPTON, categorized by loud synths and distorted vocals that create a relatively busy soundscape. If busy music is too much for you, then this is probably not your cup of tea. Songs like “NEW ORLEANS,” “J’OUVERT” and “DISTRICT” are perfect examples of this, driven by pitch distortion and upbeat verses. At the show, the crowd of college students with a dash of teen angst all moshed the hardest during these songs and I was not prepared. As thrilled as I was for the concert, there was a slight fear that rumbled in my ribcage as I walked through the Terminal 5 venue doors. When I told friends that I was going to a Brockhampton concert, genuine concern flashed across their faces, warning me “Brockhampton fans go hard.” Members of Brockhampton also guided their fans’ experience as Merlyn and Kevin frequently chanted “Open the [mosh] pit!” for high energy songs like “BOOGIE” and “NEW ORLEANS.” (Don’t worry, members also checked in with their violent fans throughout the show and even intervened). It’s one thing to blast bangers through speakers in the comfort of your own home. It’s another to move and jump together as a collective body.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, iridescence does have some moments of delicacy and vulnerability. Songs like “FABRIC,” “TONYA,” and “SAN MARCOS” are introspective and impactful both sonically and lyrically. Despite the layers of depth and darkness these songs go to, there was a feeling of connectedness in the crowd that was infectious. As the members sprawled on the stage floor during “SAN MARCOS,” I thanked the universe for the screen as I too caught my breath with them. (How come they get to lie down?) Members of the group called out to the crowd to sing along to the melodic and catchy bridges, and what was a crazy mosh pit most of the show felt like a safe space with a group of people I didn’t just meet that night. The genuine excitement of those around me lightened up the fact that for most of the concert, I barely saw the members themselves. At one point, during a slow ballad, I decided to just close my eyes and savor all the sounds around me, isolating sight to embrace solely the music.
Of course, this show focused on their most recent album, but I was most excited to hear songs from the past Saturation albums; these are the songs that made me become a fan of the group in the first place. All of my classic favorites were on the setlist, from groovy “SWAMP” to the classic “GOLD.” Arguably their most popular song, “SWEET,” was performed with an orchestral backtrack that brought a new vibe to such a familiar melody. Despite the absence of Ameer’s verses from BROCKHAMPTON’s songs of the past, the songs didn’t feel nor did they sound incomplete.
Stepping out of Terminal 5, sweaty and probably bleeding internally, I couldn’t hide the hum of residual adrenaline. Along with feeling 5 pounds lighter, I was taken aback by the sheer depth of my iridescence experience. Even now, I find myself listening to studio tracks and feeling unfulfilled, prompting myself to rewatch the numerous videos I took. As I tried to relive that Sunday night, I affirmed that Brockhampton is the hardest-working boyband in show business.
Listen to iridescence on Apple Music and Spotify below, and here are some tracks we suggest:
Syjah: “WEIGHT” & “THUG LIFE”
Viv: “J’OUVERT” & “HONEY”
Apple Music Album: