Roy Wilkins Auditorium can feel reminiscent of a high school talent show venue. On the night of rapper G-Eazy’s performance, the room full of teenagers, marijuana smoke and faux leather jackets didn’t help divert that vibe.
But it made sense.
Most of the crowd wasn’t able to see openers, Phora and Anthony Russo, due to long lines and trouble parking. The state hockey tournament was in full swing next door.
However, the auditorium was closer to full for Trippie Redd – the act just before G-Eazy – who was reminiscent of the late Lil Peep. His angst-driven lyrics and pop-punk vocals in both “Dark Knight Dummo” ft. Travis Scott and “Make a Wish” worked to start building the energy for the night.
After his 20-minute set, Trippie Redd and his red(d) hair left the stage, and a half-dome screen came out. It was almost time for G-Eazy.
“Attention,” the screen read as it warned of explicit language and references to sex and drugs during the show. “It will thrill you. It may shock you.”
(Spoiler: That PSA was accurate.)
G-Eazy slowly slinked on stage in his all-black outfit and stood behind the lone microphone stand as “Act I: The Beautiful,” began.
Performing “The Beautiful & Damned,” for which the tour is named, he and his slicked back hair stayed center stage while bumping with each verse.
It was quite the theatrical opening song for both the 2017 album and the show. G-Eazy started the night off with the ease and control of a ringmaster.
Moving into “Pray for Me,” the ominous second song on the album, the 28-year-old rapped, “Minnesota feel like the jungle, lions and tigers and bears.”
At this point, the GA pit was definitely a moving jungle of its own, and that wouldn’t be the only time he would mention Minnesota; the first of at least 50 references, he got cheers every time, but the constant references and shout-outs teetered on empty concert gimmicks.
“I’m in my favorite place to perform right now,” G-Eazy said. “You know what Minnesota means to me, right?!”
Saying he played a lot in this state before really making it, maybe it wasn’t a gimmick. Who knows?
Moving right along into “Legend,” “The Plan” and “But a Dream,” he managed to keep the crowd jumping along while flowing alone onstage, and the flittering flutes and chiming keys of “That’s a Lot” and “Lotta That” helped keep a fun bounce within Roy Wilkins.
G-Eazy’s lyrical flow can be predictable. Almost all of his songs discuss sex, drugs and rock & roll. But his fans love it. It’s on brand, and he means it.
Naturally, screams ensued when the first dark notes of “I Mean It” began. The song is the epitome of his personal message as a rapper, and arguably his biggest hit off his 2014 debut album, These Things Happen. Seemingly everyone in the room was rapping along to every boasting word.
Luckily, it really does feel like G-Eazy means it. While he may not be “role model material” in his actions- his self-confidence, stage presence and career motivation are impressive.
Moving along, “Order More” brought something new to the stage: the rapper’s auto-tuned vocals. His singing was endearing and a nice break in the program. However, following his own singing with Charlie Puth’s suave voice in “Sober” was an interesting choice and a bit of an odd juxtaposition.
“Some Kind of Drug” and “You & Me” kept on that vibe, and earned some of the loudest screams and sing-alongs of the night.
Ending the first section of the show with “Fly Away,” which he called the “realest song” he has written, “Act II: The Damned” commenced. Changing into an all-white outfit, with fringe-like straps hanging off him, he began with the funky, charismatic “Leviathan.” A synonym to “monster,” the song was a fitting transition into the slower, yet heavy-hitting tracks “Pick Me Up,” “Random” and “Buddha.”
If the energy wasn’t already high enough, “You Got Me” (and the accompanying Donald Trump diss) reinvigorated the whole crowd.
Where G-Eazy might lack lyrical depth and style, he certainly makes up for in beats and production. The live drummer, keyboard player and DJ really helped keep the energy alive.
That hype existed in the musicality within “Calm Down” and the final song before the finale. “Eazy” featured a recap of his “hustle,” and was a fun way to look back on what he’s done in his career so far – especially using it as the ending to a show in a relatively packed house.
It was even better when he returned on stage for the “Epilogue,” and performed the songs everyone really wanted to hear.
“Him & I” featuring his current love interest, Halsey, and “Me, Myself & I” – the song that officially put him on many people’s radars – got everyone bumping and on their feet if they weren’t already. Those were the hits he was obviously saving for the end, and it worked.
Finally, the current hype-heavy “No Limit” was the last song of the night. Even as the microphone cut out for one verse, the catchy lyrics and the fast-paced music was the perfect final punch for the night.
There were a few lulls during the concert, and many of the songs hit similar levels, but G-Eazy’s show production, stage presence and personal brand were all on point.
Honestly, that’s what his fans in St. Paul were hoping to see.