Migos — a rap trio composed of the North Atlanta natives Quavo, Takeoff and Offset — has been often characterized, superficially, as an eccentric trap side-show in the rap game: unessential, but good at cranking out earworms branded with its unique triplet-laced flow and odd lines such as “Auntie Eva, she got a pound, she might just serve it” from “Slippery.” But with its concert at the Warfield last Tuesday, Migos lived up to Donald Glover’s praise at the Golden Globes when he called the members “the Beatles of this Generation” in the group’s spectacular yet off-the-cuff cool performances.
The main experience for the first hour or so of Migos’ latest Bay Area concert (after last year’s DAB tour began here) was waiting and not breathing: waiting because Migos ended up being two hours late for its own concert and not breathing because the unusually rowdy crowd was pressed together like fish trapped in a trawler’s net. DJ Durel, Migos’ house DJ, played a few crowd-pleasing tracks to fill up the empty time, and it says something about Migos’ emerging star power that the audience met the many updates on Migos’ delay with cheers, not jeers, as the night went on.
About 11 p.m. the concert finally began with the ominous horns of “DEADZ” off its latest album Culture, announcing its presence with overwhelming sound. And everyone came dressed fittingly, with all three decked out in matching silver chains, rings and, in Offset’s case, ripped jeans revealing shiny silver fabric underneath. In comparison, the stage was virtually devoid of decoration. Even more strangely, the audience’s attention clearly wasn’t meant to drift anywhere else besides the larger-than-life figures of Migos.
The pitch-perfect individual performances also demanded attention. On songs like “Get Right Witcha” or “Slippery,” for example, while Quavo rapped, Takeoff and Offset were busy filling every silent beat with signature vocalizations like “skrrt” or “woo.” The DJ even got in the mix on occasion, his yells weaving into the dense vocal tapestry. All their microphones appeared to be hooked up to a vocoder, or perhaps a loud backing track added to its voice, making its rapping sound as slickly processed as a studio recording. It had an intimidating cumulative effect — the unified voice of the three seemingly never taking a breath or fumbling flow as it performed song after song.
Appropriately enough, considering its friendly stage name, Migos’ performance style was very casual, which stood in stark contrast to the rigorous perfection of its delivery. Blunts were lit and passed around onstage. Migos’ friends, presumably, stood around upstage, chatting and quietly looking out on the show. Quavo at one point jumped onto the stage speakers, and water bottles were sprayed at the audience. And when Travis Scott made a surprise appearance in the middle of the show for “Kelly Price” and “Pick up the Phone” (with Takeoff taking over for Young Thug), he was greeted as a close friend, exchanging blunts and back-pats in equal measure. Migos even had a little fun with its famous lines, as when Offset led the crowd in a “Which way? That way” chant, in reference to a verse from “Get Right Witcha.”
Migos pulled the cliché album tour move and kept all its biggest hits — namely “T-Shirt” and “Bad and Boujee” — until the very end for the greatest impact. And in that explosion of energy, the concert ended, clocking in at a lean 50 to 60 minutes. It was a good move on the group’s part, the short set keeping its overenergetic style from losing its charm.
In fact, it had such a powerful effect that one attendee was overheard describing Migos as “three robots engineered to be perfect.” And while Migos can be extravagant and overwhelming, it also has a human side. The Migos are not slick robots, but bona fide rap stars.
Contact Adesh Thapliyal [email protected].
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the chant “Which way? That way” referenced Migos’ song “Bad and Boujee.” In fact, those lyrics are in the song “Get Right Witcha.”