A newcomer from Atlanta, Playboi Carti gained attention from Awful Records heavy-hitters Father and Ethereal when Carti was a senior in high school. But his SoundCloud page really blew up after he was featured in an article on Complex; his most popular songs now have millions of plays. His contemporary, Lil Uzi Vert, represents Philadelphia as an established staple of the city’s trap scene who has worked with artists like Metro Boomin, Southside, and 808 Mafia.
Thirty minutes after the show was scheduled to start, an impressively large line wrapped around the block. The next 45 minutes of waiting were cold and wet, but there was a palpable energy among the other concertgoers that couldn’t be dampened by the rain. A small group of people towards the front started a freestyle cypher using beats played over someone’s cellphone, and another fan was walking backwards through the line to ask everyone who they were most excited to see, while casually dropping plugs for his own SoundCloud account. By far the most popular answer to his question was Playboi Carti.
When we finally got into the venue, we realized the cause of the long wait — the floor was packed to capacity. We skirted around the edge of the crowd wondering how we could possibly sneak through the dense crowd to get a better view, but that probably quickly left our minds as Playboi Carti came on stage and to open with “Beef.” The crowd erupted and we were immediately thrust towards the center of the floor by everyone else behind us. Carti played a rapid-fire set, hitting all the highlights (“Beef,” “Broke Boi,”and “Fetti”) in quick succession. While his set was short due in part to his limited output at this early stage in his career, Playboi Carti maintained a consistently high level of energy without a single dull moment. The crowd was in a constant state of moshing, but unlike most mosh pits where there is a distinctly separate area where people are moshing, the entire floor was dancing with mosh-like levels of energy.
Lil Uzi Vert put on a solid display following Carti, but there was a noticeable drop in energy in his set. While Carti’s flow is laidback and his delivery often sounds restrained, his live performance added a new, exciting dimension to his music that outshined Lil Uzi Vert and proved his competence as both a rapper and a performer.
Perhaps it was Carti’s humble beginnings that drew legions of freestylers and SoundCloud rappers to his show. He had clearly struck a chord with the audience — definitely an artist to watch out for in 2016.
Article by Jack Thompson