Rapper Lil Uzi Vert returned to Chicago Friday night after performing at Lollapalooza 2017 to headline a sold-out A&O Blowout at the Riviera Theatre.
Before Uzi took the stage, Danish electropop singer MØ opened for a packed crowd of Northwestern students. Despite not knowing how to pronounce her name, many students enjoyed her set.
“Is it Mew or Moe? I think it’s Moe. I really like her songs,” said McCormick sophomore Ege Göktürk.
MØ got the crowd pumped up for the rest of the night with her hit songs, “Nights With You” and “Final Song.” She also performed her standout verses on Major Lazer’s “Lean On” and Snakehips’ “Don’t Leave.” The spotlight followed her as she climbed up onto the balcony on the side of the theater and gave the A&O members sitting there a close-up performance. As she exited the stage, she encouraged the Northwestern students to “take care of each other.”
According to A&O’s schedule, Uzi was supposed to begin his set at 9:15 p.m., but he did not take the stage until 9:55 p.m. After Young Thug was more than an hour late to his headlining act at last year’s Blowout, some students were worried that history was going to repeat itself.
“Uzi being late was giving me flashbacks to Young Thug,” said Communication junior Nick Drutman. “But I figured he’d be late. I was just hoping he wasn’t Young Thug late.”
Uzi performed a range of songs from his older mixtapes, like “Do What I Want,” “You Was Right” and “Ps and Qs,” along with tracks from his debut album, Luv Is Rage 2, which dropped in August. Fans sang along to his breakout single “The Way Life Goes” and of course to the multi-platinum song of the summer “XO Tour Llif3.”
Shortly into his set, Uzi brought out fellow XXL 2016 freshman G Herbo to perform a couple songs from Herbo’s debut studio album, Humble Beast, which he released in September.
“Even though I didn’t know his songs, I could vibe with him,” Weinberg sophomore Caitlin Somerville said. “I just went with it.”
Not to be outdone by MØ, Uzi climbed up the opposite balcony, singing and taking selfies with several students. Known for jumping off balconies, like at the 2017 Rolling Loud Festival where he dove 20 feet into the crowd, Uzi had a bodyguard close behind him to keep him safe.
To close the show, Uzi performed his verse on hit song “Bad and Boujee” from the second level of the Riv amidst Northwestern students. He then offered the mic to whichever fan knew the most lyrics to “XO Tour Llif3.” With a flick of the wrist, he tossed the mic into the crowd below and everyone sang along.
“I thought it was really cool, but a little dangerous when he dropped the mic into the crowd,” Somerville said. “Everyone was singing together and it felt like he was part of the people.”
After controversy with last year’s Blowout and Ball, A&O issued a warning to non-Black students to stop using the N-word “both at our shows and in general.” The announcement appeared on screen before Uzi performed, to the applause of the crowd.
“I know why they did it, because of last year,” Somerville said. “Part of me thought it sucked that people would do that and that A&O would have to put the warning up, but it’s good that they did.”
Considering the huge audiences for Blowout last year and this year, it is clear that rap artists bring in lots of fans who want to sing along. However, A&O’s goal of creating an inclusive environment for everyone requires that non-black students do not use the N-word.
“It’s interesting that they keep booking rap artists that say that kind of stuff, but I understand,” Drutman said. “I’m a big fan of Lil Uzi, but I’m OK with not saying it. Rap is my favorite genre, so I would prefer rap artists to keep coming.”
Many students, like Somerville, still enjoyed the show.
“I didn’t really feel affected by it,” Somerville said. “Everyone was chilling.”
With Blowout finished, Northwestern students can look forward to A&O Benefit later this year. Like Göktürk said, “A&O always brings really good, relevant people.”