Music

I Went To Sydney’s Brockhampton Doco Screening, And Now I’m In Their Turbo New Music Video

Last night, Brockhampton turned a Sydney cinema into a mosh-pit. Luckily, we happened to be there.

Brockhampton's Kevin Abstract dances in a crowd at a Sydney cinema in new music video for 'New Orleans'

Last night, ten members of Brockhampton were sitting on chairs at the front of a packed cinema on Sydney’s George Street. Kevin Abstract, the boyband’s founder, says they have time for one more question.

The 300-or-so of us had just watched The Longest Summer In America, their yet-unreleased documentary, but most of the questions are those burning things a fan simply has to know. Stuff like, ‘What’s the most fun song they’ve written?’, ‘Your favourite film?’, and ‘What’s with the pregnant lady on the cover of their week-old fourth album, Iridescence?’

Hands are stretched high, some are standing or perched on their seats to be seen. But the journalist in me leaps out and I yell the question I’m amazed no one’s asked: “Why are we all wearing black?”.

Well, 90 per cent or so of us: some didn’t see Kevin and co’s tweets asking the crowd to wear a black t-shirt to the screener.

Kevin apologises for the black, then takes one more question before making an announcement: “We’re going to film a music video right now, if that’s cool.”

The crowd erupts — absolutely screams. Then we all stay in our seats and turn to friends, the stranger next to us. You can feel the air of confusion in the room: a palpable sense of, ‘Wait, what? What are we gonna do?’

More astute attendees probably had an inkling something like this was going to happen. Earlier in the week, Brockhampton dropped a video for ‘San Marcos’, filmed in about an hour in Melbourne outside a Hungry Jacks, of all things. They also took our phones at the door, and there were signs saying they’d be filming.

Look, maybe I should have put two and two together, but judging by the incredulousness in the room (not to mention to echoes of ‘oh my God, I can’t believe this’ through the crowd as we all left), I wasn’t the only one.

“Fuck Josh Groban!!”, someone yells from the back.

Kevin read the room, explaining that they were making it up as they went along. He explained how it was gonna work: most of us had to stand at the front and put our arms around each other, “like a cult”.

We were gonna dance in the background while the boys moved around us, running through the aisles, crowd surfing, taking command of the camera for their verses. Just boy band things.

“Fuck Josh Groban!!”, someone yells from the back. There are a lot of in-jokes said throughout the night, but this one, I understand. Groban currently has the #1 in the US above Iridescence: the band has created a bit of a one-sided war in attempts to topple the throne. After all, Iridescence is big: it’s the group’s first album since signing to a major label, RCA. If they’re going to be as big as One Direction, their idols, now’s the time.

They tested the sound, blasting the turbo Iridescence opener ‘New Orleans’ through the cinema speakers — most of the crowd started dancing as hard as they had the night before at the concert at the Enmore Theatre, which several members called their best show ever on Twitter.

“Save it for the filming!” one of the band members yell. Which one of them? I have no idea: it’s hard to keep track.

A crowd formed around Kevin in front of the seats, thrashing around like a mini mosh pit before they were even on camera. The film clip was single-shot, and it was filmed four times.

For the first, I jumped into the fray but felt like a phoney around the True Fans. ‘New Orleans’ has been out for a week, but everyone around me knew every single word. I didn’t — since I didn’t nab tickets to their show, I took a break from listening to the album, lest my FOMO flare up.

The crowd, who kept up their energy across takes, leaned young, which is to be expected. And a little bro-y, too: considering their online fanbase, it was somewhat surprising to see most girls shunted to the back or sides, escaping the at times a little too chaotic dancing.

When someone threw water into the crowd, Kevin cut filming: “Remember, this is a music video, not a concert.” For some, it was a weird vibe.

“I was there with three friends, and we all found it bizarre,” James, 21, told Music Junkee. “I almost wanted to leave during the Q&A just because they weren’t asking any girls. [Then when we started filming], it was really feelin’ like a boys club all of a sudden. Idk, it definitely shattered the illusion a little bit.”

But for most, it was simply round two: everyone was getting sweaty. Security and the band alike kept yelling for fans to keep the aisles free, and to make sure not everyone rushed forward at once.

Joba, Kevin and Merlin were running up and down the aisles, and needed room to breathe. But everyone wanted to make their mark, either to be on-camera or recognised by the band for their energy, either with a nod, a fist-bump or something more.

When someone threw water into the crowd, Kevin cut filming: “Remember, this is a music video, not a concert.”

With that much energy, the filming could feel chaotic: but that’s part of the Brockhampton appeal. In the doco, we followed them from March-September this year, as Iridescence came into shape — at first, it was Team Effort, then Puppy, then The Best Years of Our Lives. Akin to a boy band version of Terrace House, we see them create and hang out in houses and hubs across LA, Hawaii and London.

Everything, of course, comes together, but seeing their makeshift studios — sometimes just a mic next to a kitchen top while others hang out in the couch or come inside from a pool swim, still dripping — is an insight into the somewhat ‘method in the madness’ way they create.

“Last night was absolutely incredible,” says Ben Owusu, 20. “I thought the documentary was so well shot and beautifully edited and it really took me on an emotional roller coaster, as I expected it would. It really gave me the courage and belief to pursue my creative ideas.”

It’s clear that Brockhampton are ultimately guided by a gut feeling, an instinctual feeling for what works and what doesn’t: shoot a video one night, drop it the next. For fans lucky enough to be in the cinema last night, they became part of that — all without the distraction of live-Tweeting the moment, too.

“When Kevin asked if we’d be cool to shoot the video with all of us I turned to my girlfriend next to me and our faces just dropped,” Owusu said. “Last night was an experience I’ll never forget.”

Watch the video below.

Jared Richards is a staff writer at Junkee, and co-host of Sleepless In Sydney on FBi Radio. Please tweet him if you can see him in the video.