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Kevin Abstract’s Secret Shows: Beginning His Solo Career After Brockhampton

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Pace chapter.

1,624 days, 2,338,560 minutes, and 140,313,600 seconds since April 25, when Kevin Abstract last released any music. However, on Oct. 3, I was able to see his secret show in Brooklyn where he debuted music from his new upcoming album to be released later this year. His eager fans, including myself, have been patiently waiting to hear the new type of music he’s been working on and with whom he has been collaborating with while doing so. Secret shows in both Los Angeles, California, and Brooklyn, New York were his solutions to showing his fans what he’s been working on so passionately for so long. And I just happened to be able to attend the one in Brooklyn. 

Kevin Abstract, born as Clifford Ian Simpson, is an American artist who was born in Corpus Christi, but raised in Houston, Texas. He’s most known for his time as a part of the popular hip hop/R&B collective known as Brockhampton. Brockhampton was formed under the name AliveSinceForever in Texas in 2010 and consists of 16 members: Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, Ameer Vann, Bearface, Joba, Merlyn Wood, Romil Hemnani Dom McLennon, Jabari Manwa, Jon Nunes, Michael Kirby, Robert Ontenient, Kiko Merley, Albert Gordon, Rodney Tenor, and Ashlan Grey, where only half were on vocals and others were more engineering and behind the scenes. Together, the boy band has amassed over 10 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone, Grammy nominations, MTV Awards, Billboard Awards, American Music Awards, and many more over their time as a band. However, last year on Jan. 14, the group went their separate ways and announced their split via Instagram post caption: “the show is over. thanks for everything.”

As Kevin Abstract is now navigating his career as a completely solo artist, I was excited and curious to hear what his new sound would be after being a Brockhampton fan for so long. So, on Tuesday evening, my friend and I set out early in order to make it into the show. We fought hard to get our tickets, as they were free RSVP tickets without a promise of entrance inside the extremely small venue, Baby’s All Right. We arrived in Brooklyn at 6:00 p.m. when we knew the doors would open after 9:00 p.m., only to be met by an angry bouncer who wouldn’t allow us to wait in front of the venue. We were subtle, going to get a drink at the corner store across the street, wasting time by talking about our day, trying not to anger the bouncer even more than he already was. Our plan was working — until a mob of fans from across the street thought that we, along with a couple of others, were lining up and ran to the gate along the entrance of the venue. With the bouncer and his security team shouting at us “not all of you will get in!” I, along with my friends, were stressed if we’d even make it into the venue despite having several RSVP tickets. Our other friends were running late and were asking to hop in line with us, but we knew that would get us in trouble with security; we were stuck at a crossroads. We were packed back-to-back, in a single-file line like a bunch of kindergarteners excited for recess. 

We decided to just hope for the best and manifest ourselves getting in. It had been hours of us standing in the cool air, tightly packed, tired, and stressed when the line finally began to move. We had our tickets and IDs in hand, with our wrists out waiting to be marked as under 21 since there was an open bar in the back of the venue. After hours of anticipation, my friends and I got in and felt a sense of relief and happiness to be a few of the first people to hear Kevin Abstract’s new album. Our sense of relief was extremely short-lived when we went to scan our tickets and there was another worker with bags of these pouch-looking things with large black fabs attached to them.  We soon found out that these pouches were for our phones and the black fabs were magnetic locks, that only could be re-opened at the end of the show by security with a specific magnetic key. Kevin Abstract wanted this show to be as intimate as possible, apparently meaning no recording devices, including cell phones. Although it made me a little anxious to not be able to go on my phone freely, especially the aspect of not knowing the time — my friends and I decided to put this experience to the test. We would honestly tell each other at the end of the show, whether we enjoyed going to a concert with our phones or without our phones more. 

 Baby’s All Right has to be the smallest venue I’ve ever been to, it is “a 280-person capacity venue with one bar in the live room, one in the front room, and a service bar on the restaurant side.” You are touching someone at all times, whether you know them or not. People are holding cups of beer and laughing, while I’m constantly reaching for my phone before I remember I physically can’t access it. Although it initially made me nervous not being able to just go on my phone whenever I wanted, it created more room for conversation. I talked with my friends and with people I had never met before because that was all there was to do. There was no concept of time, so we were all shivering with anticipation for when Kevin Abstract would appear on stage. ​

The moment the lights dim, it’s complete and utter chaos. Beers go flying, people go falling, and mosh pits start forming. The adrenaline immediately starts to pump and I know I have to move with the people around me or be crushed. At this point, there is beer all over the left side of my body, but there’s no time or room for me to stop and clean it up — it’s all go, go, go. As the songs came to an end, the people around me and I would briefly discuss what we liked about it before the next song began. We could only use descriptions like “the punk 2000s-sounding song was so good” or “the heavy bass song is my favorite so far” because Kevin Abstract chose not to tell us any of the titles in between each song. He would finish one and in about 15 to 20 seconds maximum, he’d start an entirely new song. It was exhilarating to not be able to really tell anyone about what we heard simply due to us not having enough information to do so; it felt more personal than any other concert I’ve ever been to. It was refreshing for how intimate and close the performance was. It felt like it was truly just you and him in the room. 

From crazy bouncers, to a mob of people running towards the venue, to our phones being locked in a magnetic pouch for hours — I’d say that Kevin Abstract’s secret show in Brooklyn was a success. It was an extremely unique and new experience for me, especially because the concert culture was so different from what I’m used to. There were mosh pits instead of dance circles and there was rock and punk music instead of R&B and pop. Although scary at first, I enjoyed the lack of cell phones during the show because it made me interact with the people around me and put myself out there more. If possible, I strongly suggest going to see Kevin Abstract in concert, or going to see a secret show in general. It’s super fun and enjoyable when you go with people you already know. Regardless, you will meet and interact with strangers at the show and in line. Kevin Abstract is an extremely talented, yet underrated artist and I think that this new album will reach a wider audience due to how many genres were incorporated into it. It’s something that everyone can enjoy and find a liking in because of how diverse it is. Kevin Abstract is making a new name for himself with his impromptu and now full-time solo career, and this show was a perfect way to continue it.

Morgan Stanislaus is a future Journalist and Communications and Media Studies major at Pace University. At Her Campus she is a first year staff writer, where she specifically enjoys writing about the entertainment industry, including music, media, and film. Outside of Her Campus, Morgan spends a lot of her time writing for an online Journalism Website called ATWX media on topics within the music industry. She has interviews bands such as "87 Nights" and artists such as Renee Rapp. She also enjoys participating the other clubs she is a member of on the Pace Campus, such as the Pace Press Newspaper, Pace Music Group, Arts and Entertainment Management Industry Network, and more. Along with this, Morgan has submitted and written many personal, educational, and entertainment pieces for her School Newspaper and journalism class. Independently, Morgan loves to listen to music, go to concerts, watch and review movies, and hangout with her friends and family. She is huge into the world of pop culture and considers herself a major "fangirl" along with being a Marvel movie geek. Other than this, she also loves fashion and expressing herself with her clothes. This includes her being a major thrifting addict.