Words by: Ian Bertel
Upside-down crosses and an enormous skull, with smoke seeping out through the eyes and mouth. It was quite the sinister looking stage. I had to give my ticket a second look to make sure that this was the Lil Uzi Vert and G-Eazy concert. That’s the way Lil Uzi Vert designed his stage, though; he’s into that stuff. The 24-year-old rapper was the opener for G-Eazy on a beautiful Friday night, and the Philadelphia native was a good one to get the energy flowing.
My friend Matt and I waited for Uzi to take the stage. There were too many places to turn your head; beautiful women were everywhere. These shows tend to reel in an assortment of Florida’s finest, and more than likely craziest. The amphitheater was heavily filling up. In the midst of conversation, the lights cut out, and the music came to a halt. A roar of teenage screams flooded the shed, like a train speeding through a station. “Are you here for Lil Uzi Vert!?,” announced the DJ. The crowd went even louder, and hands flew up from the pit. The phone lights were out so everyone could Snapchat their friends who weren’t there and make them jealous. Lil Uzi’s screens on the stage hosted amazing visuals of some sort of trip through hell. The upside-down crosses glowed a daring red. The music came on, and Uzi walked on with a nonchalant strut.
The music was on full blast and Uzi was eating up the cheers. He ran around the stage performing a range of songs from all his records. Uzi stood in the spotlight and removed his jacket.
“You know what Tampa? I do what I want.”
His hot song “Now I Do What I Want” started to play. He moseyed around the stage doing a low-key version of his usual stuff. All of a sudden, Lil Uzi Vert leapt off the stage and ran around the crowd rapping the song, dodging one fan after the next. Security was in high-speed pursuit after him and trying to block fans from the rap star. Uzi flew all the way up into the field portion of the stadium. You could hear fans' screams through his mic. The crowd was facing the back of the stadium now trying to catch a glimpse of the reckless madman. A mountain of phone flashes all conglomerated into one. Lil Uzi had a pile of fans swarming him like it was lunchtime for vultures. I was happy that this stunt was pulled, it was pretty rock and roll.
Uzi continued the show and closed out with a personal favorite, “XO Tour Lif3.” Memories of my college party days came streaming through my head. He did the song, then had such an overwhelming response that he had the entire amphitheatre full of fans sing the song to him. Uzi stood high on a stage monitor, overlooking his loyal fans with a grin on his face.
The crowd was really fired up now. All pistons had been engaged, firing at once, on all cylinders. This was a rap show at its finest. Stagehands pulled Uzi’s stage and began putting up a mega one. Larger-than-life screens were set up to display G-Eazy as the superstar he is. The girls were getting into the warm-up tunes, dancing their hearts out and filling the place up with Juul vape.
Darkness, cool temperatures and a low rumble of chatter immersed the venue. The large screen on the stage displayed a cross, not upside-down this time. Heaven on earth had been restored, I suppose. A cappella, angel-like harmonies came in to suck the crowd into G-Eazy’s world. Sliding doors towards the back of the stage opened, and amidst bright, Godlike light and fog, our headliner emerged from the portal. The drums kicked in heavy and the keyboard players shredded. G-Eazy ran up the stage toward the crowd giving a fiery performance of “Pray for Me.” The pit crowd jumped high in the air, screaming as if the Lord himself was on the stage. G-Eazy put the passion into his performance. He rapped every word and so did his loyal crowd. The place was a harmony of supportive fans. It was beautiful, to say the least.
During each break of a song, G-Eazy had a few words to say about texting a friend or family member the simple words of “I love you.” Earlier in the day, rapper Mac Miller had passed; I believe G-Eazy felt that the crowd needed to send positivity and love through the waves of the world. It was a sad time in music on Friday night, and G-Eazy had a plan to turn the frowns upside-down. He did great by banging out one song after the next while bras flew across the amphitheatre, wild women danced on top of their chairs like it was a rave. G-Eazy turned the shed show into a mega-club of teenage animals. Our headliner even stepped aside for a brief moment and gave the spotlight to his backing band.
G-Eazy decided to throw the production over the top by standing on the hood of a black ‘69 Mustang that rolled onto the stage. Later in the show, he pulled a stunt that had the crowd wailing so loud that I thought it was the end for my eardrums. G-Eazy has a song that the whole world knows, “Him & I,” featuring Halsey.
“I want every phone light out,” G-Eazy called out from a pitch-black stage. Halsey’s iconic voice came in over the speakers. The crowd screamed, the lights went up, and it was her. This is the part where I lost a few years of hearing. The duo gave a sweet performance of the hit song, and I had goosebumps. It was a beautiful thing.
G-Eazy closed out the show by thanking the fans for all their love and support. You could tell that it was a special performance, because of the tragic early passing of Mac Miller. G-Eazy really made the show top-notch. The fans were more than pleased, and it truly felt like, an endless summer.