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Birdman, Young Thug, and Rich Homie Quan Brought Rich Gang to Life at Myth

Rich Gang lighting up the Myth masses.

Rich Gang lighting up the Myth masses.

Rich Gang Tour: Birdman, Young Thug, and Rich Homie Quan
Myth Nightclub, St. Paul
Friday, December 12, 2014

The recent team-up of oddball hitmakers Birdman, Young Thug, and Rich Homie Quan makes total bizarre sense, and their Rich Gang: The Tour Part 1 mixtape proved to be one of the best rap projects in a year largely devoid of full-lengths that truly came together. Their appearance at Myth proved a success after a long set of that provided solo spots and a group performance.

See also:
Slideshow: Rich Gang Turn it Up at Myth

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It was hard to tell how the show was going to go initially, with a fairly small crowd and an overlong cadre of opening rappers. An undiscerning attitude towards warm-up acts means the strength of sets from otherwise hard-working up-and-comers like Bossman, whose locally grown industry-aiming bangers had some real potential, were entirely overshadowed by the laughably poor Kels, who supposedly flew in from Houston to be here.

Performing falsetto squeak-raps about his dapperness over persistent backing tracks verged on self-unaware comedy, bizarre at best and kind of embarrassing at worst. My advice for anyone who feels like paying money to open for a big name rap act is going to be a good investment for your career: You're shooting yourself in the foot establishing that kind of exposure for an unpolished product. Fine-tune your craft before aiming for a stage that size. 

When Rich Gang's official DJ came to the stage late into the night, the show took a sharp turn for the better. Spinning forever-loved throwbacks like "Back Dat Azz Up" and "Laffy Taffy" ("Where were you when you first heard this?") alongside modern mega-hits like "No Type" and "CoCo," the energetic DJ took involving himself in the sounds he spun to new heights -- bouncing and dancing and singing along in ways that accented the well-chosen soundtrack.

When he dropped Meek Mill's "Dream and Nightmares (Intro)," he executed a perfectly timed backflip exactly as the beat dropped, bringing the already explosive track to a fever pitch that had the once disinterested crowd fully engaged. It was fairly packed in at this point in the night, and the DJ's insistent referencing that Birdman, Rich Homie Quan, and Young Thug were in the building assuaged the fears that this show might not actually turn out well.
Young Thug burst out to "2 Cups Stuffed" from last year's 1017 Thug, with braided reddish locks tied behind his head, a leather jacket, and a dress-length shirt. He's as weird and as funny as Lil Wayne, as exploratory as Busdriver, as spastically technical as Pharoahe Monch, and as unassumingly clever as Gucci Mane in their prime on record, which wasn't totally reflected in his live performance. He was an engaging figure onstage, stalking back and forth and bounding into beats as they hit, but the vocal tracks behind him did most of the legwork. It would've been impressive to see him hit some of the more difficult warbles of his best recorded material, but he shined on the simpler tracks like "Stoner" and "About The Money" where he was able to focus his vocal energies.

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Keeping track of the setlist proved impossible immediately, as he ran quickly through songs that came off somewhat unintelligible in succession. The strongest songwriter on the bill was not the most successful at translating onstage, but the spectacle alone was worth watching. He remains the most interesting figure in rap at the moment, and his version of the half-hearted live show stood far higher than average.

Rich Homie Quan (above) also played a solo set, and he faired better performance-wise. His choice of melodies almost necessitate attacking songs with impassioned flows, and though he also relied on a backing track, he amplified each line with a subtle sense of soul-baring. Frequently singing a capella at the tail-end of songs showcased that he could carry those songs solo if he'd intended to.

Many of his songs incorporate similar patterns and can blend together heard back-to-back, but standouts like "Man of the Year" and "I Know" allowed him to extend himself a bit. Ending his set with the immensely catchy "Some Type Of Way," Quan brought Young Thug out again for a full Rich Gang set.

In conjunction with one another, Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan filled in the gaps of their solo appearances. They're a charismatic team, backing each other up and accentuating each other's strong points. Opening song "Out My Face" was huge, allowing the pair to get menacing, harmonic, and integrated in some great ways. Screaming the chorus together brought the energy levels in the club to new heights, with people dancing and spilling drinks left and right. The DJ announced Birdman's emergence from the wings to the tune of Big Tymers' classic "Still Fly," complete with a posse and an expensive winter coat befitting of a CEO with scalp tattoos.
Birdman is one of the forerunning rappers who don't really rap, doing what he does best by standing motionless in the middle of the stage, smoking a cigar and occasionally chiming in about mansion arrangements. Thug and Quan were the shirtless, amped-up figures bounding around him and feeding off the crowd. At times their moves seemed entirely synchronized, a mesmerizing stage antic that fit well with their strange cohesion as performers. Running through several songs from their mixtape as well as some of the new leaked tracks that hit the internet just a few days prior, the trio played a long set of hits that didn't get tired or overdone.

By the time they came to the closer "Lifestyle," which ranks among the year's best and strangest radio singles, Rich Gang had proven the strength of their collective sound and seemed to hint this was only the beginning. You could sense the spark onstage, and the audience came away more than satisfied.

Personal Bias: I'm a big fan of Young Thug but was mentally prepared for the style to not translate live. 

The Crowd: Excitable but impatient with the openers. 

Overheard In The Crowd: "I'm just going to have to spill liquor, because this is my song!"

Random Notebook Dump: Seemed like the very first DJ had all his songs pitched way up.

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