There’s something special about seeing an artist live, especially when their buzz level has reached a global scale, and they are on the cusp of entering mainstream musical stardom. That’s the moment when a show can generate unparralleled energy in a room and Playboi Carti is no exception. With an overflow of fans, the air of anticipation for this show is less one of mass hysteria, and more like one of a ‘welcome to my most played songs of 2018’ Spotify playlist frenzy. It’s an initiation.
Fresh off an active 40+ North American touring schedule of sold out shows, festival bookings and appearances with the likes of ASAP Mob, Lil Uzi Vert and Gucci Mane, Atlanta’s own 21 year-old Playboi Carti hit the UK, before heading out into Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
By the time 9pm hit last night, there was still a sizeable queue waiting to enter the building, security were on staff, and you would be forgiven for growing a tad bit impatient. But impatience on this night was clearly unrequited, Playboi had no plans to kick-off the show any earlier than 10.25pm. Before then, it was down to Daniel OG to begin proceedings with a short 3-track shelling-set, culminating in ‘Uber XL’ which got wheeled twice, and as I thought to myself, this is ‘f*ckin’ mad’, Daniel OG repeated my sentiments exactly.
‘Location’, the opening track off Carti’s self-titled 2017 mixtape, saw in a thumping bassline as the boy of the moment finally hopped into the limelight with a demin jacket half-hanging down one arm, a huge shining medallion one could see from the balcony, and those oh-so-debated leather jogging pants. The reception was fuelled by both exhilaration and agitation, making it so much more intense.
After the opening cut, a spine-grinding bass dropped and then came “In New York I Milly Rock, Hide it in my sock”. With ‘Magnolia’, his ground-breaking catalytic anthem, you could feel the building sway as the crowd bounced. Playboi climbed onto the stage side speaker, held up from his ankles by security – letting off the occasional back-arching echoed wails into the mic.
Followed by a couple more run-throughs of his Playboi Carti mixtape cuts including, the affirmative yet fortuitously pertinent ‘Dothatshit!’, he ran across the stage back to 2016’s ‘In Abundance’ viral hit ‘Fetti’. Featuring Da$h and the distinctive Maxo Kream, the breakthrough hit for the wide-eyed buoyant melodic vibe-machine following his association with A$AP Rocky and the Mob.
Yes. It was a surprise. The duo, ever since their photoshoot by Gio Corabi for Wonderland, have been, allegedly, creating some dope music together, which we’re yet to be blessed with. But Skepta’s entrance came with a track from another across the pond pal Drake’s ‘More Life’ – ‘Skepta Interlude’. With one more, ‘It Ain’t Safe’, and an embrace, he left, leaving us questioning ourselves… wtf just happened.
Playboi Carti then spent the remainder of the show away from the stage, perching from the balconies, staircases and sound pits, causing a frenzy of scurrying fans to be fought off from a bunch of big yellow-coated security. His assured presence schlepped a defining performance across all corners of the venue as he continued dropping thrill-provoking bangers from ‘Let It Go’ to ‘Broke Boy’ and then to ‘Magnolia’ once again. You would have thought he’s been doing it for years…
The night came to a close after homage was paid to his label mentor, A$AP Rocky and the mob, with ‘LPFJ2’ bursting out of the sound system as he stood amongst the crowds atop the sound-pit barriers. With a Colgate-smile bright, and Carti’s presence assured, he departed to his waiting tour bus.