January 15, 2023
Atlanta icon and trap-rap pioneer, Future, announced his One Big Party Tour in early December to start the new year and the winter concert season off with a bang. On Friday, January 13, Future and friends brought the energy and essence of modern ATL hip-hop to the Queen City with a few surprise guests.
Arriving at Spectrum Center, the anticipation for the evening’s festival-style bill was palpable, with Polo G, Babyface Ray, and EST Gee all scheduled to perform. It didn’t take long for the stadium to fill up, with the vibrant audience ready to get down.
Atlanta rap group Ocean x KungFu kicked off the evening, captivating the audience with their dance choreography and high-energy raps. Following up, Babyface Ray took the stage with his clever punchlines and Detroit-style lingo, which were put on full display during his performance of “Paperwork Party.” Babyface Ray has been in the game for the better part of a decade. The rapper found commercial success with his 2021 EP, Unfuckwitable, and earned a spot in the XXL Freshman class in the following year.
Polo G thrives in his melodic style of rap and ability to tell stories packed with emotional grit. Polo didn’t waste any time during his set; he put his all into each track and enlivened the crowd with his hit songs “RAPSTAR,” “Flex,” and “GANG GANG.”
Chicago rapper Lil Durk popped out as a surprise guest next. Durk came onstage with his hype man right beside him, and had fans screaming the lyrics to his track “Hellcats & Trackhawks.” He maneuvered around the stage as if he owned it, and took a moment to shout out his friend and fellow rapper, Pooh Shiesty, before launching into “Back In Blood.” Another highlight of Durk’s set was how he paid respect to his late friend King Von by performing their collaborative remix of “Crazy Story.” Durk wrapped up his set performing Chief Keef’s seminal Chicago drill rap song, “Faneto,” which brought the energy up another level.
While everyone anxiously awaited the headlining act, Future Hendrix, the DJ managed to keep the crowd alive with hit songs and entertaining callouts from the host, Queen City’s own, Chewy.
Future finally stepped onstage around 10:40 p.m. and made it worth the while. He rifled through his deep catalog by performing snippets of many of them, but electrified with “Stick Talk,” “New Level,” “Wicked,” and “PUFFIN ON ZOOTIEZ.” With flames rising at every beat drop, the stimulating light show, and the bass feeling like tremors shaking up the whole arena, the sound and production techs pulled out all the stops.
To everyone’s surprise, another Atlanta legend, T.I. made an appearance in between Future’s set to perform his tracks “What You Know” and “Whatever You Like.” T.I. was actually in Charlotte for his comedy tour at The Comedy Zone and decided to grace the crowd with his presence, which was a big rush of nostalgia for many.
Future didn’t lose much momentum throughout his nearly two-hour set. He kept the attention of the crowd by simply performing tracks from his illustrious nine-album solo catalog, which is the greatest testament to his cultural impact in modern hip-hop.
To end the night, he brought out yet another guest, Charlotte’s very own DaBaby. He showed out for his hometown, jumping around the X-shaped platform stage with performances of his hit songs “Suge” and “Rockstar.”
One of the biggest takeaways from the evening was the atmosphere created by the fans from the very beginning. Rather than a concert in an arena, the night felt like an Atlanta night club. There was a very intimate feel to the vast arena and everyone knew exactly what kind of energy to bring. The stage design, the visual effects, and the sound production throughout the show was impressive, and the amount of bass that could be felt in every song gave the Spectrum Center some sonic warmth. Future and his friends indeed brought one big party to Charlotte.
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