I had never been to The Fillmore before I went last Wednesday night for a ScHoolboy Q concert, with Nav as the opener. It seemed counterintuitive to me to see a herd of hyped-up young adult rap fans in such a classically beautiful theater. Talk about an interesting juxtaposition. The wooden floors were what really concerned me: I’ve seen the way wooden floors react to lots of jumping, and I wasn’t certain they were going to make it through the show. I calmed down and rationalized that the people running the venue knew what they were doing.
When Nav came out, I was concerned for the fate of the rest of the show. The crowd was dead and the performance had little energy behind it, with Nav simply walking slowly back and forth across the stage, attempting to get the audience to sing along to no avail. I never do this at concerts, but I stood looking at my phone or talking to my friends most of the time. I kept complaining about my legs hurting. It was already 8:00 p.m. and I had class the next morning.
I kept my hopes up for ScHoolboy Q. I had wanted to see him in concert ever since some of my high school friends told me that he is a terrible live performer. I had heard he performed even his most energetic songs in such a half-hearted way that the audience couldn’t get invested in the performance. This fascinated me, as SchoolBoy had always been an artist whose music pumped me up. I wanted to put it to the test and see if he could prove his critics (my friends) wrong.
Long story short, he did.
Although not flawless, the performance itself, in combination with the energy from the crowd, allowed for a perfectly imperfect concert. ScHoolboy himself sounded great, rapping a large portion of the most of the songs, as opposed to letting the audience or backing track do the work for him. The audience was filled with diehard fans who screamed their approval after the first note of every song played.
One thing that pleasantly surprised me was how he actually played the majority of his songs all the way through. Many of his most popular tracks, such as “THat Part” with Kanye West, “CHopstix” with Travis Scott, “Floating” with 21 Savage, and “Collard Greens” with Kendrick Lamar, have substantial features on them. Many of the rap artists I’ve seen live only perform their portions of the song and then move on. For ScHoolboy, it definitely worked in his favor to perform the full versions of the songs. When there were lulls in the energy of the crowd, he would play one of the fan favorites and get everyone back into it again. Even the people in the balcony were standing up and dancing around to “Man of the Year” and “Numb Numb Juice.”
ScHoolboy said the crowd at The Fillmore was the best he’d ever seen in Detroit. During pretty much the only time he spoke to the crowd, he said: “I’m not gonna lie, I don’t really be having that much fun in Detroit but tonight is kinda fun, dog, this is kinda tight.” Giving us the credit we deserved was a smart move on ScHoolboy’s part because the energy in the theater amped up even more after his speech.
The setlist itself was quite comprehensive, covering most of his biggest hits while also covering a decent portion of the album behind this tour, CrasH Talk. The one place where ScHoolboy erred was with the song he chose to end the show. His penultimate song of the evening was “Hell of a Night,” which, by all standards, would have been a great song to close with. It’s a popular, high-energy tune that had all of The Fillmore jumping off the walls.
Unfortunately, ScHoolboy tried to do something a little different by ending with “Blessed,” a slower song that isn’t available on any streaming services. Although it would have been a wonderful addition to the setlist at any other point (who doesn’t love an ode to the original fans?), ending the show with it killed the excitement that the rest of the show had built up. I still left sweaty and buzzing, but definitely not as much as I would have if he’d ended with a more “predictable” song. Despite being disappointed by the final note, I still left the concert satisfied and impressed by both his performance and the excitement of the crowd. For my first concert in Detroit, I really can’t complain.