A few takeaways – some more obvious than others – from last night’s Nobody Safe Tour at Blossom Music Center: Future is a bonafide rock star; The Migos are nipping at his heels; Lebron is Cleveland’s king.
It’s pretty surreal when the Cavs stroll into Blossom’s pavilion. While you might expect them to be preparing for the NBA Finals that begin this week, Lebron led the charge of a small entourage that contains dad-hat rocking Tristan Thompson, Deron Williams, Dahntay Jones and the fashionably late but ever-smiling, J.R. Smith. Everyone who noticed them (which is, you know, everyone) scrambled to take a photo. It took the guys a while to wade through the crowd.
In front of semi-entrancing, semi-stock footage-y background visuals, the three rappers known as Migos came onto stage armed with their A-game. Offset wore his denim-on-camo-on-denim, Takeoff was in his typical Cobain-referencing white sunglasses and Quavo looked like a spelling bee champion with a beige T-shirt tucked into some faded sky blue jeans strapped with a light brown belt.
Running through almost the entirety of their latest record, Culture
, Migos unleashed a round of album cuts to drum up their base, from “Get Right Witcha” to “Slippery” to “Kelly Price.”
While Quavo and Offset stand out on the group’s recorded work, it becomes obvious in their live performance that the whole of the Migos is far greater than the sum of their parts. The trio practically harmonized, each individually auto-tuned to perfection, bone dry to a murky rumble and a jumpy lilt. Their chemistry was familial, natural, and, in turn, effortless: they were intermeshed and receptive, paying close attention to one another as they tossed ad-libs, a vocal three-man-weave.
“Hannah Montana” set the crowd off as Migos rounded the corner into their home stretch of hits: “Fight Night” and its rawkus response carried into the frenetic ebbs and flows of “Call Casting.” The sweeping, opening wave of bass from “T-Shirt” flattened the crowd, and once its breath was caught, erupted into a rowdy sea that they exceeded in the finale, “Bad and Boujee.”
Exeunt, triumphantly: Migos.
As security guards contained the small mob of concert-goers taking photos around the Cavs’ section, champagne bottles were popped, and Lebron puffed a cigar – the party was in full effect.
In front of dueling “FUTURE” and “HNDRXX” DJ booths, a suave, understated Future slowly emerged, yellow hoodie and dark shades enveloping his alien aura.
He’s the top billing on this tour, but a bigger font can’t convey the composed veteran performance that Future brought to emerge as the headliner amongst headliners. The 33-year-old Atlantan fully inhabited this rockstar role. He owned the stage, and his almost 90-minute performance was diverse and immersive.
With his ride-or-die DJ Esco, he can turn a crowd all the way up in a flash – the setlist was chock full of high-energy tracks that can flip a switch, like “Stick Talk,” “Jump Man,” “Fuck Up Some Commas” and “I Serve the Base.”
He’d lower the mic and dance along with his coordinated and improvising back-up dancers, led by trendsetters Meechie and Toosi. Bounding around on stage during “Blasé,” arms outstretched during “New Level” with guest A$AP Ferg or deftly pirouetting during “Real Sisters,” he looked like he was having a shit ton of fun. It was engaging. Live, he mimicked the listening experience and seemed to enjoy it as much as an audience member.
One-on-one with a stand-held mic, he drilled in on word-for-word rhymes. An unexpected stand-out was “My Savages” from 2014’s Monster
. Bringing out Cleveland Freebandz labelmate Doe Boy, the rapper whose stint in jail inspired the song, Future rapped one of his more overtly introspective tracks with immediacy and earnestness: “This a letter for my dogs,” he rapped, “How we let the money get between us?” It’s a sudden shift, but one that came off as emotive and effective.
Future and Esco consistently acknowledged that Cleveland was the first city to book them for shows outside of Atlanta and said that they feel at home in the city. It’s heartwarming; if the crowd wasn’t so turnt, you might’ve heard an “Awwwww” echo through the amphitheater. Instead, Future gave a shout out to the most famous audience member, saying, “We played Jumpman earlier but… we’ve passed that now,” referring to Lebron passing Michael Jordan for points scored in the playoffs. He dedicated the next track to the Cavaliers and launched into “March Madness,” bringing the house down with the singular, intergalactic trap single.
Future closed with “Mask Off,” and the flute-laden, Metro Boomin-produced anthem was the perfect send-off for the youthful Cleveland crowd.