Migos dabs their way to a seminal moment for Ann Arbor hip hop
It’s Wednesday night at Hill Auditorium, and Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh is dabbing onstage.
As the ultimate event of Music Matters’ SpringFest, the Atlanta rap group Migos took the stage around 9:30. After a few hours of prep by their hype-man, the audience was clearly ready. The group, consisting of Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff, immediately began rolling adlib-rap and tossing verbal alley-oops to each other. Migos are pioneers of that type of repetitive, consistent rap style, now pervasive among Atlanta’s freshman class. New Atlanta is no doubt indebted to their ubiquitous triplet flow.
Quavo, likely the group’s most known member on account of his features (gracing Donnie Trumpet’s Surf and a number of Young Thug’s tracks) was at the lead as the night took off. He posed for pictures, hyped up the crowd, and represented the University of Michigan in a Denard Robinson jersey. Offset was the only member not donning Michigan attire, but his Mike Tyson Supreme tee was more than acceptable for the occasion.
Most of their first raps went unrecognized by the audience, as they bobbed best they could in the unfriendly-to-standing Hill auditorium. The venue was admittedly unfit for this kind of high-energy hip-hop show, but the energy picked up as the group segued into more known territory. The drop of “Hannah Montana” was synchronized with a not wholly unexpected Jim Harbaugh appearance, who jumped around stage for a bit and, of course, dabbed — much to the appreciation of the crowd. Water bottles flew through the air as kids threw their faces into their arms. That moment was the clear highlight for the night, where Migos and the audience seemed most in sync with one another.
The majority of the night moved quickly back and forth between those kinds of radio-hit highlights, and slower moments when the members called out their raps like lists, leaving the audience to stand back and appreciate (or check their phones). The front of the venue was filled with kids dabbing with one hand and taking a selfie with the other. To Migos’ credit, they seemed to gauge the room relatively well, doling out popular tracks when they were needed and interacting with the audience when the performance slowed. That was clear during the DJ Carnage-produced track “Bricks,” as the lights shut off and the group called for the room to turn on their phones (lighters are out these days). Dim iPhones waved around as the members rattled off their verses and jumped with the crowd, another high-energy point of the show.
Sometime around “Handsome and Wealthy,” the group jumped off stage and into the crowd. Takeoff climbed over a row of seats and danced with the students for most of the track, much to the disapproval of the classically-trained security team.
Not too long after that high-intensity crowd interaction, Migos left, possibly mid-song, and the slightly confused audience tentatively filed out, to murmurs of “Wait, is it over?” It was a fitting ending to a very stop-and-start event. The peaks of the night, though, still remained. Daps were exchanged and Migos left with a salute, their work here still unfinished.
For those wondering, they were, apparently, headed towards Rick’s for an afterparty.