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G-Eazy Concert Review

January 13th, 2016
The Midland - Kansas City, MO

A few thousand young fans waited outside in the freezing cold to enter The Midland last night. Oakland rapper G-Eazy's When It's Dark Out Tour was rounding out its first week of a month long run of the U.S., continental and otherwise. This tour is remarkable in two ways. One way being that G-Eazy played The Granada in November 2014 and has now made the giant leap and sold out The Midland. It's impressive, I'll give him that much. The other (in my personal opinion) being the fact that he was outperformed by an opening act tonight (A$AP Ferg) and that he likely was back in 2014 when he was touring with E-40. Granted, I was not at that show, but c'mon G-Eazy, E-40 is a legend.

G-Eazy, born Gerald Gillum, is a 26-year-old white rapper from the Bay Area. Eazy made his regional pride well known throughout the night, making sure to shout out Mac Dre in the city which he was murdered back in 2004. Since his first full album was released in 2009, Eazy has slowly matured from a clueless, dorky college rapper into a well-groomed hip-hop heartthrob with decidedly darker imagery. His zip-up hoodies have been replaced by black leather motorcycle jackets and there is a lot more pomade in his hair these days. The removal of his jacket the first and second time (after a small wardrobe change during a break) were met with deafening screams.

Eazy's stage was set up to resemble a shady downtown block in the Bay Area, complete with the neon lights of a strip club, bar, and trashy motel. Surely these symbols of danger were some type of indication of how wild and exciting the performer standing in from of them was. Not quite. While his newest album ("When It's Dark Out") is filled with menacing instrumentals and A-list cameos, Eazy only matches that level power on an infrequent basis.

A$AP Ferg
Songs like "Me, Myself, And I" and "Random" offer up catchy hooks about being a loner while also being young, rich, and handsome. The songs have passable verses, but most other songs in his catalog fail to contain even that much. On his more aggressive songs that rely on big, shouted choruses, Eazy often lets down the listener by delivering the chorus in either an out of breath pant or a borderline whimper (perhaps from performing for so long each night, but others have done it before). On his more introspective songs it's a toss-up as to if the chorus either sticks or does not. The only exception to this rule being "Everything Will Be OK," a track from "When It's Dark Out" that highlights Eazy's strained relationships and the loss of his mother's partner to suicide through multiple lengthy and emotional verses.

The lightshow, house party atmosphere, and live drummer made his set enjoyable enough (most of the audience ate it up), but strip all that away and you'll find not much more than a consistently average rapper writing marketable songs. He seemed grateful though, noting multiple times how blessed he felt to being drawing such a response. Eazy also seemed thrilled that Tech N9ne, "the king of Kansas City," joined him on stage for a moment.  By no means am I saying Eazy's a bad dude (who wouldn't take the opportunities he's getting?), but I didn't find much of performance overly substantial or exciting.

Marc. E Bassy
The evening began with an opening set from Nef The Pharaoh, a young Bay Area emcee that I do have faith in. Nef's short set was energetic and his music is a tribute to and continuation of all of the things that made Bay Area hip-hop great. Pounding upbeat rhythms with the catchiest chorus you can think of smacked on top. I am frankly shocked that Nef's song "Big Tymers" is not receiving radio play nationwide. While his performance could use some improvement (he relies heavily on his backing tracks) he is definitely an artist to watch.

Marc E. Bassy was the second opener. Bassy's hip-hop infused songs are another example of a record executive picking a pretty face out to sing generic R&B songs aimed hard at teenage girls. I also found it strange how the videos playing on the screen behind him were mostly just him standing around at parties surrounded by flashing lights and girls grabbing his hair.

The most electrifying performance of the evening was that of A$AP Ferg. The New York rapper gained notoriety quickly after A$AP Rocky blew up a few years ago. Soon after Rocky's rise Ferg released "Trap Lord," an album that is played with incredible consistency at every teenage house party I've ever attended.

The muscular, leathered up rapper pummeled the crowd for the first half hour with bangers like "Work," "Shabba," "Hella Hoes," and "New Level," a recent collaborative track with Atlanta superstar Future. All of these cuts had The Midland's balcony shaking at an alarming speed. The last few moments of the set were the most important though. Ferg asked the crowd to pay their respects to A$AP Yams, a member of the A$AP Mob who died nearly a year ago of a codeine overdose. The last two songs were both tributes to Yams, one being an a cappella version of a song on Ferg's upcoming February album. Much more quietly than he had emerged, Ferg thanked the crowd and walked off stage.

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