After Young Thug skipped out on Chance The Rapper’s “Magnificent Coloring Day” last weekend, all the jokes about whether he would actually show up to A&O Blowout must’ve jinxed the situation.
In one sense, Young Thug didn’t show up on stage until a little after 10:30 p.m. Friday, after his DJ played music for 10 minutes or so to get the crowd hyped. Many students got tired of waiting — Young Thug’s performance started nearly an hour and a half after Kehlani’s ended — and left before his set even began. But Young Thug also didn’t show up once his performance started, only rapping 10 or so songs before getting the plug pulled on his show at 11 p.m. His on-stage entourage of over 25 people began throwing a fit, but then jumped off the stage, high fived some fans and left.
As I walked out of Welsh Ryan Arena, I overheard one student on the phone with a friend say, “It was the saddest concert I’ve ever seen.” Others lamented the songs they didn’t get to hear — “Lifestyle,” “Wyclef Jean” and the infamous “Harambe” (Even though I only just got into Young Thug’s work, I’m pretty sad I never got to hear the amazingly catchy Wyclef Jean collab “Kanye West.”).
Thugger’s show did have a few good moments. During one song, he crouched down on an amp and rapped to a lucky section of the crowd. A few others, like “With Them,” gave him a chance to show off his unique vocal tone (think Future meets Travis Scott meets A$AP Rocky) and a strong flow. Also, commendably, he kept the energy up for those in the crowd who actually stayed to see him perform.
The rest of the short set overshadowed these moments, though. Most of the time, the performance seemed like a chance for Young Thug to show off — his only reply was “Yeah … yeah …” when the audience started chanting “Jeffrey” after one of his songs. Other parts of the set just devolved into Young Thug shouting lyrics and the crowd dancing along.
By contrast, Grammy-nominated R&B singer Kehlani performed like a star in the making. The 21-year-old whose song “Gangsta” is featured on the “Suicide Squad” movie soundtrack has yet to release a proper album, but that didn’t keep her from delivering a stacked set at Blowout. Introduced by a short performance from one of her DJs, Kehlani came out in full force, dancing, singing and interacting with the crowd like a pro from the beginning. She even brought out Chicago rapper Towkio as a fun surprise in the earlier part of the show.
Kehlani’s voice was the showstopper as she belted notes, added some smooth runs to her songs and switched from R&B to neo-soul and even rap. Her performance of “Tore Up” became the standout moment of the set as she sat down on one of the amps and sang an impassioned reading of the ballad straight to the crowd.
Throughout the show, Kehlani kept audience members excited by talking to them from the stage about everything from girl power to her look and new music. She thanked the audience throughout the night for supporting her, and ended her performance by thanking fans for listening to her new music. At a show where Kehlani did extremely better than the headliner, it’s telling that she was just grateful to be performing.