After a nearly nine-month hiatus, BROCKHAMPTON returned to the stage Friday (Aug. 23) for the "Friday Therapy" concert at the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles. Though doors officially opened at 7 p.m., and the 13-member collective didn’t take the stage until just past 10 p.m., a line of thousands of dedicated fans wrapped around Hollywood Boulevard and its perpendicular streets as early as 14 hours prior. Concert-goers were given their tickets in a branded “GINGER-airline”-themed booklet, an ode to the GINGER album released on the same day.
Inside the packed-out 1,200-capacity Fonda, 100 gecs, Deb Never, JPEGMafia and Dominick Fike warmed up the stage in front of an eager crowd, with crazed attendees chanting “BROCKHAMPTON” between every set. Screams rang out inside the venue when the final opening act concluded and the theater dimmed. Eventually the lights flashed, revealing five BROCKHAMPTON members -- clad in matching aluminum space suits and red sneakers -- sitting on the three glowing-neon risers on the otherwise-black stage. For the following hour-and-a-half, the crowd ceaselessly bounced as BROCKHAMPTON performed over 25 songs, the groups’ energy only climbing as they demonstrated immense versatility throughout their set.
Starting with “No Halo,” for which they were joined by Deb Never, the collective performed the brand new GINGER album in its entirety, as had been promised on the concert’s advertisement. Despite having less than a day to become acquainted with the new music, much of the audience was able to belt along to the tracks, a testament to the devotion of the BROCKHAMPTON fanbase.
“Thanks for waiting all day. It means so much and truly warms my motherf---in’ heart,” BROCKHAMPTON lead Kevin Abstract greeted the crowd prior to launching into the second track, “Sugar,” which he also dubbed his “favorite song.” Don McLennon delivered his bars flawlessly in complement to Ryan Beatty’s smooth vocals, the rest of the performers innately finding their niche on the stage. This was a key attribute of the entire performance: the band instinctively allowed each performer to shine during their respective solo parts of every song, while the other members kept the stage alive without distracting from the soloist.
The electric crowd reflexively swayed to “Sugar” before opening up for a mosh pit for “Boy Bye,” with a continuous command from Merlyn to “open it, open it.” Nearly an hour later, chants of “one more song!” erupted before a solo Victor Roberts graced the stage for his namesake track, the final off GINGER and his debut collaboration with BROCKHAMPTON.
Ahead of his exit off the stage, he tearfully shared some advice: “I dedicate this performance to my family that’s up there [motioning to the venue’s balcony]... my parents mean the most to me... I don’t know your relationship with your parents, but you only get one set of parents. I don’t want to hold things up, but if you got parents, love your parents. I appreciate them every single day.”
The powerful words lulled the crowd for under a minute before BROCKHAMPTON retorted from behind the curtain, “Is it okay if we do another song, L.A.?!” A mosh pit spread almost instantly as all members of the band rose to their feet for 2017’s “QUEER”, auto-tuned microphones in tow. Kevin Abstract then launched into “GUMMY” off the same Saturation II album, the remaining members crouching at the edge of the stage as Kevin dominated centerstage.
Dominic Fike returned for “Peach,” off Kevin’s solo ARIZONA BABY project, for which the rest of the band sat on the risers in the background. Fike embraced each BROCKHAMPTON-er before running off stage, and BROCKHAMPTON proceeded to deliver a few more fan-favorite throwbacks, earning a long moment to catch their breath when the audience sang the entire "BLEACH" chorus in unison. Both the band’s and the audience’s stamina was evident as the explosive “BOOGIE” off Saturation III concluded the night, the energy as palpable as it was at the beginning of the set.
The concert’s YouTube live stream had amassed over 125,000 views less than 10 hours after the show’s conclusion, the comments riddled with statements such as, “I’d give anything to be there” and, “This is the most important show of 2019,” only further demonstrating the vigor of BROCKHAMPTON’s fanbase.