Aloe Blacc sounded like every band in the past 60 years and it was pretty cool. One bro got really excited when Aloe played that “I’m The Man” song and made that horn shape with his fingers. It seemed a little out of place, but part of the beauty of SXSW is those incongruous moments, like earlier in the day when we walked into a nearly empty, deadly silent church to see RAJ perform.
Vince Staples was solid and sounded great live, but the audience was getting antsy to see the bigger names. Gunplay came out like, “I stayed out of trouble long enough to bring you this album,” before going into a predictably wild and awesome live performance. Pusha T brought all the ferocity and amazing facial expressions that you’d expect. Redman and Method Man killed it like a pair of pros, putting on the best show of the night and showing off what years of experience does for you. YG was next, and he kept it short and full of his hits. And then there was 2 Chainz.
2 Chainz is an entertainer. He came out in sunglasses and a fat, shiny chain and advised the front row to get their cameras ready before crouching down in a picture-perfect pose. He went through a slew of hits like “Feds Watching” and “Birthday Song.” He brought out ScHoolboy Q for “What They Want.” Then all of a sudden, the mics went out. Obviously pissed off, 2Chainz threw his mic into the air and stormed off stage. Everyone booed. He was visibly upset, but it was cool to see how badly he wanted to stay on stage and deliver for the audience. A couple of minutes later, the mic was turned back on and he came back out.
“I didn’t even break a sweat yet,” 2Chainz yelled to the audience. “And I’m wearing long sleeves!” Pissed off as he was, he maintained that connection with the audience and flaunted his confidence and sense of humor. He performed “I’m Different” to an excited crowd and then all of a sudden the mics went off again. He threw the mic in the air again, this time all the way to the top of the canopy covering the stage, and that was that.
As far as performances go, Red and Meth had the most engaging show. They walked on the audience (literally standing up with the help of fans holding their legs) and brought it back to the ’90s with the classics. And “Da Rockwilder” live is a force. But 2Chainz dealt with a shitty situation and kept the whole audience on his side. As goofy and playful as he can be as a rapper, Chainz has a keen ability to keep his cool and stay likeable, even when things aren’t going smoothly.
After the show, 2Chainz said on Instagram, “METH and RED, I watched they show years ago and learned stage presence from method man…” That’s not the only thing he learned. He learned how to be a professional.