DaBaby Review - 3.12.20

On Wednesday, thousands of fans waited in line outside Pinnacle Bank Arena to see North Carolina hip-hop artist DaBaby. Despite growing concerns of the COVID-19, fans were not scared away and packed the arena in anticipation. DaBaby brought Sheck Wes, Stunna 4 Vegas, Big Mali and Rich Dunk as openers for his Kirk Tour. On top of the four openers, Omaha based artist SK8 was the first act of the evening. 

SK8’s fusion of rap and rhythm and blues relied on 808 drum machine-heavy instrumentals on which the artist moans his laid back, ambient anthems. His smooth, auto-tuned vocals were juxtaposed with weighty sub-bass, pulse-pounding rap anthems. Regardless of the sonic palettes, SK8 retained a high energy for the entire set and even crowd surfed during his last song, “XXX.”

Big Mali’s set left a bit to be desired. Her raps were rapid fire, but often weren’t articulated well. The crowd remained mostly quiet during the rapper’s overly loud set. However, Big Mali’s production was blood pumping enough to keep the floor bouncing for her entire set. 

Rich Dunk brought the highest energy of the opening three acts. His instrumentals were West Coast flavored; heavy bass and electric piano keys danced playfully on almost every song. His raps were hyper violent and blasted at the audience with a grimy, aggressive cadence, often bleeding from one song to the next with little time between. 

Stunna 4 Vegas had the crowd going insane with his intense vocal delivery and hard-hitting production. His aggressive style was complemented by his ardent stage presence. He stomped across the stage shirtless. 

Vegas’ set only got more ridiculous as he extended an open invitation for all the ladies above 21 to throw their undergarments on stage. In typical rockstar fashion, he collected every one of them to twirl over his head while performing. Vegas’ most high energy song was his hit single “Animal,” in which he bounced and rebounded around the stage as the concert-goers on the floor tumbled and slammed into one another. Vegas made it his mission to involve the entire arena, even climbing onto the seats on the sides of the stage to get fans energized. 

When Sheck Wes took the stage, the entire venue was ready to blow. Sheck Wes opened with “GANG GANG,” a song by JACKBOYS that Wes features on. Stunna 4 Vegas was high energy, but Sheck Wes took it up a notch. Wes spent a majority of his set leaping from side to side like a buoy in unstable waters, in sync with the packed audience. Wes grooved and glided across the stage with swagger and charisma on songs like “Chippi Chippi” and “Live Sheck Wes.” 

Wes’s set was a snowball of energy, continuously gaining mass and momentum with every song until the artist was gasping for air between every word he said. He took time to recognize artists like XXXTENTACION, Pop Smoke and Juice WRLD, using the brief eulogy as a segue into his performance of “No Bystanders,” which features Juice WRLD.

The show's peak came from Wes’s “Mo Bamba.” The inescapable smash hit had every fan on their feet, transforming the arena into a mosh pit of thousands. The crowd’s belting of the lyrics in unison was worth the ticket price alone.

Prior to DaBaby’s stage entrance, the lights went black. “If you’re ready to see DaBaby say, ‘Yes, sir!’” yelled DJ K.I.D. The audience responded accordingly. DJ K.I.D. played a collection of radio smash hits, from Roddy Ricch to Megan Thee Stallion. Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares” and Juice WRLD’s “Lucid Dreams” were both played.

After the extended DJ K.I.D. introduction, DaBaby took the stage, bursting into the arena with “Suge.” Complete with fog and blinding flashes of light, DaBaby crashed onto the stage with his signature rapid-fire rap flows stacked on top of one another without a pause for air. 

DaBaby’s set was explosive and eccentric. Backup dancers dressed in inflatable baby costumes promenaded around the stage on “Goin Baby” and “Baby Sitter.” DaBaby’s stage presence was almost cartoonish, complete with rubbery dance moves and larger-than-life charisma that didn’t let up for a second of the set. 

DaBaby rattled off a variety of songs from his discography, including familiar classics “21” and “VIBEZ.” He took time to talk to the audience between each song, thanking them for coming out and even asking what they wanted to hear and obliging all who asked.

On “TOES,” DaBaby and his crew transformed the stage into a nail salon, with a red leather salon chair and a nail technician quickly brought onto the stage. Mock walls with images of other salon chairs and workstations were brought out to complete the look. DaBaby received a pedicure while he rattled off the quotable chorus and verse. 

Before “REALLY,“ the stage was transformed into a nightclub, complete with red velvet ropes and a stripper pole. He even called the opening acts and select audience members to the stage to participate in his set by dancing on stage. Fans sprung into action and desperately tried to climb to the front to be chosen by DaBaby or his crew. 

The crew again morphed the stage, this time into a church, for the song “GOSPEL.” The angelic orchestral introduction saw DaBaby’s stage crew dawning black and red church robes before the song came roaring out of the speakers. 

When DaBaby’s set ended with “BOP,” it felt way too soon, concluding very suddenly with almost no warning. Regardless, DaBaby and his opening acts had an energy that inspired and activated the crowd with every song. DaBaby’s stage presence and charm stole the show, and the energy of the opening acts was captivating from start to finish, making the Kirk Tour one of the most dynamic and boisterous tour runs of the year so far. 

culture@dailynebraskan.com