Each time Oakland rapper G-Eazy has come to Houston, his audiences have gotten substantially larger. Starting off at Warehouse Live in 2014, he, Gerald Gillum, soon moved onto a slot at FPSF in 2015, where he would return two years later. But in the meantime, a headlining tour would take him to a filled show at Revention Music Center, and a co-tour with Logic would see him performance at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. However, last night’s show at the Smart Financial Centre appeared to be his largest headlining tour. With this progression I have a feeling a solo Pavillion or even Toyota Center show is in his near future. He was one of the first shows that I ever took professional photos at, so I was pretty excited to see him for the second time. And I figured this would be one of the better shows of the tour, as it was the first date since December and the first show of this tour for the record.
This tour was in support for his latest album, the Beautiful and the Damned, a project that, to me, didn’t seem to get as much buzz as his last, When It’s Dark Out. But that did not deter his fans from making the venture out, as the show appeared to be nearly sold out. And on the fans, without dwelling on this too much, there seemed to be a bit more diversity. Well, not diversity in the sense that a majority of the crowd was teenage white kids, but surprisingly there appeared to be more guys at this show than with A$ap Ferg at Revention.
Anyway, perhaps he just relates with a very specific fan base. This tour consisted of Gillum, Trippie Redd, PHORA, and Anthony Russo, with Redd being the major up-and-comer of the three. I got there just as Russo took the stage. To be quite frank, his set was a bit cringy. By that I mean I do not believe that he knows quite which route he wants to take in his musical endeavors. His flow was pretty lackluster, and his singing was a bit whiny. His set was about 20 minutes long. Up next was Anaheim’s PHORA. When I did some research on him I came found out that he’s been in the game for awhile and has been pretty dedicated to his craft, especially when he started his own label in 2011, considering he was a mere 17 years old. His set was roughly the same time. I’m curious to see where this leads him to the next time he’s in town.
After that, the third and final opener took the stage, 18-year-old Trippie Redd. Walking around the venue, I overheard some people hyping him up, so it seems as if he already has a fanbase going. In fact, he’s going to be apart of the JMBLYA festival in May, so this was probably his feeling out of the city. His songs were the most intense out of the others, and to a large degree, more so than G-Eazy’s. As apart of the new wave of teenage rappers, Redd has found the scene he’s supposed to be in, and he is already mapping out his future. His only challenge he needs to overcome is not going irrelevant like most of the teenage rappers do. Here’s hoping he overcomes it. After this a 30-45 minute stage change would occur and the only thing visible was the backdrop. I was about to see one of the first rappers I’ve ever seen for the second time.
One thing that I was really impressed with about his last show was the backdrop: that of a dystopian-like Las Vegas, with a strip club being the predominant building; This show, however, lacked that extra touch, and the only thing behind him were two LED screens that seperated him from his backing band. Also, the presentation was also pretty different. This time around, the show was presented as a two-part play: the first act of his set being “the Beautiful,” the second “the Damned.” I guess the record was considered a concept album. This show, being the first of the tour, saw a large portion of his set being debuted live for the first time. These songs were all a bit darker, a stark contrast from his ironic, witty songs off his earlier records. About midway through, Eazy compared Houston’s culture with Oakland’s and reflected on his early days here playing Warehouse Live and seeing Bun B side stage and being rather starstruck.
The set was lengthy, with 23 songs being included in it. There’s no denying that he’s been putting in the work for years and years to get where he was at now (or last night). His first EP’s and Mixtapes sported a rather awkward Gillum; his newer work is that of a greased-up, seductive rapper who knows his place in the game and doesn’t stray away from it. I once read that he left all of his possessions and hit the road with the bare essentials to make ends meet by doing music. If that’s the case, I believe he deserved the show he got last night, and I have a feeling next time will be at an even larger venue.