O2 Academy Brixton
The title of tonight’s show – “We Are The Culture” – is more than just a nod to Migos’ latest, chart-topping album. It’s a claim that both Lil Yachty and the aforementioned Atlantan trio are keen to prove true over the course of a couple of hours (and two shows) at Brixton Academy.
Power cuts at the venue, which delay the start of the show and leave a long and eager queue snaking around the Academy building, are perhaps an early omen that conquering this crowd won’t be a walkover.
When Lil Yachty takes the stage an hour and ten minutes behind schedule, it soon becomes clear that, despite his equal billing, the majority of people are here for Migos.
This is unsurprising given Lil Yachty is just 19 and yet to release an album proper, but it does bring into question why he was given the same amount of stage time as Migos – whose set is a potent demonstration of the strength in depth of their back catalogue.
Yachty’s sadboy melodies just don’t transfer to this arena. He raps (shouts) and sings (shouts) to a backing track that beats him on volume and clarity every time. For the majority of the performance he barely goes beyond the opening 32 bars of any one track, before moving onto the next.
Wanna Be (which he actually manages a full version of) and a rendition of his feature on KYLE’s I Spy are among the scant highlights. But highlights they are, and they do admittedly offer a hint of what this set could have been if it were stripped back to a more traditional support slot.
Stefflon Don, who features on Yachty’s forthcoming album, makes a surprise appearance to perform 16 Shots and Real Ting. It’s a brief but explosive cameo, one which Yachty could learn a little from.
By the time Migos take the stage to the sound of the DJ Khaled-assisted Culture, the venue is brimming.
As they charge through the likes of Get Right Witcha and 2014’s Fight Night there’s a sense that it might be difficult to maintain this kind of momentum. Ten tunes later and they’re still conducting full crowd sing-alongs and there’s barely a foot on the floor in the stalls. At one point, an unlucky girl’s wig can be seen being tossed around the crowd.
Over the course of 50 rowdy minutes they barely miss a beat. Quavo is the master of ceremonies, amping the crowd and leading auto-tuned a capella sing-alongs. Takeoff drifts enigmatically around the stage, occasionally stepping in to command the room with a stationary verse. Offset, meanwhile, skirts from one side of the stage to the other, leaping on the monitors and flexing signature dance moves.
With each song pulling in a bigger reaction from the crowd, there’s the sense of being inside a pressure cooker awaiting the arrival of Bad & Boujee to blow the top. When it does come, the whole place is left shaking.
So, are they the culture? For tonight, Migos look pretty convincing.