When we talk about boy bands, the word chemistry often comes up as a stand-in for collective charisma, but there’s a palpable difference: the former is a process through which actions and reactions can be gauged, understood, and predicted; the latter is a quality not honed, but found, and it’s a key part of Brockhampton’s appeal.
In their blazing hit BOOGIE, the group set their sights high with Kevin Abstract nonchalantly naming themselves the “best boy band since One Direction”. The comparison runs short, however. Watching the Brockhampton boys crawl over each other on stage at Festsaal Kreuzberg in Berlin, it’s clear that the group’s more than just two-and-a-half semi-viable solo artists with pretty-faced background dancers. The grassroots group’s boundaries are fluid with an ever-changing cast of stars and an overwhelming abundance of pure, unadulterated talent and charisma.
In white tees and black jeans, the boys stormed the stage with a surprisingly tender command of the sold-out venue. They readily broke from the high-energy hits and dropped into a confessional tone throughout the show, and it was of the more arresting qualities of their performance. Halfway through the concert, the crew dropped back, sitting cross-legged as they let each other take turns tapping into centre stage for BLEACH. The song hit its emotional peak with Dom McLennon going all the way off into a vocoder before Kevin Abstract led the crowd in an a cappella belt-along of the chorus, then slowly wound the volume down until the whole audience was whispering, “Who got the feeling/ Tell me why I cry when I feel it?”
Their self-possession comes out in an unnerving balance of vulnerability and swagger for a group of young men navigating their early 20s. They’re just as comfortable confessing their flaws and fuck-ups as they are throwing two hands in the air and directing a mosh pit while shouting, “Two hands in the air if you’re on Robitussin – just pretend you’re on Robitussin!”. They move as a group, graciously letting soloists steal the spotlight and bouncing off each other with a spark that can’t be taught. But are they the best boy band since One Direction? All signs point to yes.