At 9:24 p.m. rapper Desiigner had taken the stage on McDonough Field for Saturday’s concert. Two minutes later, his shirt was off and the crowd was roaring.
Given that the 20-year-old rapper doesn’t have many tracks under his belt, the crowd’s enthusiastic response to his songs was surprisingly contagious. Although students couldn’t sing along to each verse, they moshed happily to “Overnight” and propelled the rapper through a crowd-surf on “Up.”
When Desiigner invited concertgoers onstage, students lit up. The first time, Desiigner brought up five students, singing and dancing around them and even doing jumping jacks onstage. He almost lost his balance on a dab, but recovered quickly, teasing the intro to “Tiimmy Turner.” The resounding roar that followed was the loudest heard all night.
Desiigner closed his set with a rendition of “Last Night,” accompanied by screams of “panda” by the audience. The rapper obliged, and ended the night with his chart-topping hit “Panda.”
During the 19-minute intermission between sets, students sang along to hits like Post Malone’s “Congratulations” and Kendrick Lamar’s “M.A.A.D City.” Pumped up from the interlude, the audience welcomed Lil Yachty, and his alter-ego Lil Boat, onstage with cheers and applause. The rapper threw out a few tags over some beats, and then began his set with the popular and easy-to-sing “Ice Tray.” Moving into songs like “Wanna Be Us” and “NBAYOUNGBOAT,” Lil Boat showcased his singing abilities and flow. The crowd wasn’t responding much to either song, so Yachty quickly transitioned to a popular hit: “D to the A.” He had already sung the second verse and chorus of “iSpy,” but, awkwardly enough, he forgot some of the lyrics. Then, it happened again. High off the crowd’s excitement, the rapper turned to a less-familiar song, “X Men.” He forgot a few bars, but in this case it was forgivable, because the audience didn’t know them either.
Among these audible missteps were other pauses Yachty took to interact with the crowd, mainly to ask for dance circles. When the audience complied with his repeated requests, the rapper returned to performing. Aside from a few enthusiastic Emory students dancing, Lil Boat never used the circles.
Comparatively, Desiigner worked the crowd like an expert. Though neither rapper is headliner material yet, Desiigner’s showmanship, from carrying an audience member on his shoulders to rapping in the crowd, engaged the audience and captured their attention.
Lil Boat tried. The water fight was another great idea, had Yachty not stopped the concert to get it started. Shortly after a lively performance of “BOOM!” the rapper silenced the stage — again. Then, he and the stage crew began throwing large bottles of water into the audience. The only direction? Don’t open them yet. Once the sailing team distributed all the bottles, Yachty screamed, “Water fight!” The crowd went wild. Once the bottles were empty, fans expected another song to start playing, but instead, Yachty located a few more water bottles and proceeded to douse a lucky fan in the front row.
Though the water fight hyped up his audience, the lull afterwards was palpable. Yachty sensed this, and broke into “Broccoli,” manipulating an echo in the chorus to give a fresher feel to the song. Students finally knew the words to something, but the rapper cut off the song before it finished and launched into “Minnesota.” Both of these songs would usually include other performers: DRAM, and Quavo and Skippa da Flippa, respectively. Yachty’s hits tend to have features, which may explain why he moved through them so quickly — he couldn’t or didn’t want to perform those parts.
Near the end of the show, students were waiting in anticipation for one of the few songs they knew of Lil Yachty’s, “One Night.” On this, the rapper did not disappoint. The graphics on-screen of nautical symbols and Lil Yachty riding a polar bear were entertaining; the crowd was jumping and finally singing along. It would have been a great way to end the performance, but Yachty kept going. Perhaps wanting to capture his excited audience on film, he FaceTimed rapper Trippie Redd from onstage.
Around 11:20 p.m., the rapper closed the show with a rendition of Drake’s “God’s Plan.” Much of the crowd was already heading for the exits.