Migos have always been underdogs in the rap scene. As soon as they released their first hit single “Versace” off the ‘Y.R.N.’ mixtape back in 2013, people wrote them off as one-hit wonders capitalizing on hype, who couldn’t carry a record and would struggle to hold an audience or release a consistently good record. But whether you like their music or not it’s hard to ignore the trio of Quavo, Offset and Takeoff, or their rise to rap’s elite status in 2017. A chart-topping and world-conquering single in “Bad & Boujee” will do that, huh? But to attribute the resurrection of the Atlanta trap stars to a single song would be ridiculous and ill-informed.
Look — I’ll be honest. I came into this show expecting very little. Not because I don’t like their music (I do), or because I don’t think rap shows can be an entertaining spectacle (they can). But I’ve been burned before by rappers thinking the weight of their hit songs can carry them through a half-hearted and boring set with little to no thought about a stage show. Thank god I don’t have to write a bad Migos review, because for their first Australian show ever, they pulled out all the stops and did so with style and finesse that doesn’t happen with a lot of modern trap music.
Like the beginning of the Georgia natives’ most recent record ‘Culture’, the show began with a the sound of an ever-excited DJ Khaled yelling his usual brand of hype man duties over air horns. Wasting no time, Migos proceed to launch into a set heavily weighted with cuts from the same LP. Gucci Mane-featuring track “Slippery” and the aforementioned “Bad & Boujee” went down a treat with the sold-out crowd, although Migos still dipped into their impressive back catalogue for bangers like “Hannah Montana”.
The main takeaway from this show was the stage production. Where other rappers would rest on their laurels and merely just perform their songs, Migos made clear they understand that just isn’t exciting. In my opinion, visual spectacle is equally important. Confetti cannons and streamer guns were a welcome surprise, with flamethrowers and an intense amount of smoke machines pulsing alongside every bass hit, throughout nearly the entirety of the show. Almost as impressive were the visuals projected behind them; filtering through glitched-out videos of cascading oceans and close-ups of jewellery and diamonds, each back-drop set the tone for each song perfectly. I’d expect this level of thought to come from an underground house show, not from one of — if not the — biggest rap groups in the world right now.
But then, I thought, why not? If they’re making bank, it makes total sense to invest a portion of that into their stage show — aren’t live shows meant to be first and foremost about the fans’ entertainment? Migos don’t make music that will raise your IQ or really make you think like a Kendrick or Vince Staples offering would, but does it have to? Can’t music also just be good because it’s fun?
After just over an hour, Migos exited in the same fashion as they’d entered — shrouded in a thick veil of smoke and flames, professing their appreciation for their fans. They didn’t do an encore, which I can really get behind because, honestly, encores have become boring and calculated over the last 20 years, so their choice makes perfect sense. Not being predictable keeps the audience wanting more, and with their debut Sydney show, Migos did that and then some.
Photos by Lachlan Tompsett.