It was on a hot summer’s day – July 9 in 2017 to be exact. The irrepressible Philly trap sensation Lil Uzi Vert had been set to take Europe by storm on his tour, including a performance at Wireless Festival on the aforementioned date. Six days prior to the day, Uzi had abruptly cancelled his European tour – including the scheduled Wireless set due to exhaustion.
A quick search of “Lil Uzi Vert Wireless” on Twitter testifies to the ensuing outrage and disappointment at his cancellation, followed by concerns for his wellbeing. Uzi’s Rager antics had been hotly anticipated on a festival stage, and after a year where he had already cemented his cult-status with a slew of SoundCloud hits, a show stealing verse on Migos’ ‘Bad & Boujee’ and his one-night only sold-out show at Arrival in London, the anticipation was palpable.
What followed Uzi’s recovery, was his highly anticipated platinum debut album ‘Luv Is Rage 2’; a string of charged up guest features on songs with A$AP Mob, Migos and Playboi Carti; and finally a new 16*29 European tour with a date in London on April 10 2018. This day was definitely due to play out with a different story than that cancelled Wireless date, but could Uzi live up to all the hype on this iconic Brixton stage?
At 9:15pm, Uzi was scheduled to hit the stage, while the youthful crowd were chanting his name in the faint hope that the self-proclaimed rock star would stick to his set time. The smell of weed engulfed certain sections of the Brixton crowd, as water was being handed out to fans by security guards, with some already being carried out from heat exhaustion. The crowd was primed but getting antsy as DJ PForReal, Uzi’s tour DJ and hypeman, played a series of trap bangers to set the mood before the main event. With 21 Savage’s ‘Bank Account’, XXXTENTACION’s ‘Look At Me’ and ‘Magnolia’ by Playboi Carti booming out of the speakers, fans had already entered a state of brief hysteria as mosh-pits were forming and drinks were flying out onto random civilians.
Some thirty minutes later, Uzi entered on the Academy stage to a roar of cheers and applause, clearly ready to rock the crowd. The stage was lit to reflect Uzi’s vibrant and eccentric personality, as he stood in front of a backdrop projecting the inner workings of his mind. Screening images of infernos, waterfalls and a rainbow of colour, the array of psychedelic viewing somewhat made up for the lack of stage props – which could otherwise have heightened the experience (think Travis Scott at the same venue last year).
Kicking off with party starters from his debut album, ‘Sauce It Up’ and ‘444+222’, his stage presence matched his delinquent demeanour. Sassy and confident every time he addressed the crowd with his signature shoulder roll exaggerated as ever, Uzi was having fun! And why wouldn’t he? Playing the role of a conductor, the crowd was his orchestra and when he moved, the crowd moved with him – it was like a perfect marriage of two forces.
Rapping parts of his lyrics and pointing his mic towards a sea of concert goers singing every word, it was probably unreasonable to expect Uzi to rap every single lyric to his songs without backing vocals. But admittedly it felt like a small blight on the experience, that with so many bangers in his arsenal, Uzi just didn’t perform some songs in their entirety. Despite those two gripes, older cuts like ‘Do What I Want’, ‘Money Longer’ and ‘Of Course We Ghetto Flowers’ were flanked by his newer tracks, from the tropical ‘Neon Guts’ to ‘That’s How Life Goes’. The 2017 anthem ‘XO TOUR Llif3’ understandably was the exception getting a double-performance – just because Uzi felt like it.
It’s a testament to Uzi’s use of melodies and the catchy nature of his repertoire, that his show is the perfect singalong. After a short break, Uzi changed into his purple VLONE hoodie and ran through a couple more songs, before giving the crowd the shoot and then abruptly finishing his set early – he dropped the mic and simply walked off the stage.
If in doubt about his delinquent nature, it was never as present as in that final moment.
Lil Uzi Vert will be performing at Wireless Festival on Sunday July 9 2018 on the Main stage in London.