Photo by DYLAN LONG
The 88rising crew kicked off their immense new 88 Degrees and Rising tour last night at The Fillmore in Philadelphia with a lineup so extensive, one can only imagine the workload ahead for whoever handles their settlement. The tour, branded with the 88rising record label which has become well renowned for serving as a strong platform for Asian artists, features prominent headliners Rich Brian and Joji. Joining them are the four man rap group Higher Brothers, singer-songwriter Niki, and several other singers and rappers with Asian roots.
Something that you don’t see very often in live music is the cohesive and consistent energy and unity that a label tour offers. At your average show, sometimes the crowd is there full-force for one of the openers, and then proceeds to clear the fuck out in a hurry before the headliners can even take the stage. Other times it’s reversed: in comes the tsunami of people showing up three hours after doors to catch their headlining idols while the openers, waiting to one day catch a break, already played their hearts out to 20 people all huddled in the back two-thirds of the room who all loudly talked over that one really good soft balad the band worked to perfect weeks ahead of time.
The 88 Degrees and Rising tour was none of that. The fans showed up early and dug their feet in for the long haul, because the full lineup of the night could at any point collectively join forces and become the Asian BROCKHAMPTON if they really wanted to. Fans did not come just to see Rich Brian, who has garnered plenty of Internet buzz over the years, similar to his headlining counterpart Joji (see: Filthy Frank on Youtube). They came for Krez, August08, Kohh, Niki and the Higher Brothers too. Shrill screams of elation similar to the noise that boy bands garner could be heard throughout Niki’s set of sweet and soft singalongs. For Higher Brothers, the question wasn’t whether they’d whip together a mosh pit or two, but rather how ridiculously spread out they could get the crowd before each pit ensued for their eclectic mix of hype classic hip hop and contemporary bangers. Albeit Joji and Rich Brian are very well-established, each artist on the bill contributed their own artistic flair to a night that felt much more like a collaborative showcase.
Joji, aka George Miller, gained much attention online as a sort of legend in the meme world who goes by the moniker Filthy Frank. Joji however presents himself in a starkly softer and more somber aura compared to his wild and unhinged YouTube persona, save for the goofy multi-colored propeller hat which sat upon his head for his set. His songs dripped with heartbreak and melancholy, and were driven by his ability to hit impressive notes while exposing and channeling his natural emotions and personality. Rich Brian, formerly Rich Chigga (he, like many of you most likely, came to the conclusion that this wasn’t the best artist name to go by) brought the heat to finish off an impressive night. Opening with the bouncy “Dat $tick” and checking off other notables like “Amen” and “History,” Rich Brian laid down a plethora of bars for the youthful and hardly exhausted crowd. Tapping into that mutual connection of youth, Rich Brian got several laughs out of the crowd whether it was referencing popular catchphrases from the now-defunct social media app Vine, to talking shit on Android phone users to addressing the crowd with a classic East Coast “yerr.” And what better way to end the night than having several of the artists on the bill all come out on stage for a group medley performance? (Like I said, Asian BROCKHAMPTON. 88rising crew, if you’re reading this, you’ve got to admit that this would probably be the sickest thing ever.) — DYLAN LONG