By Cameron Lee
November 9, 2023
Photo: Mike Jones / CLTure
Originally scheduled to perform in early October, Lil Yachty’s Field Trip Tour finally docked in Charlotte on Tuesday night. With a sold-out show at The Fillmore and Brakence performing at The Underground, the Music Factory was bustling with mostly teenage and college-aged kids– and even a few parental chaperones.
Lil Yachty, who is now 26, may have outgrown the red-beaded braids and sanguine raps of the 2016 SoundCloud era when he was just 19, but it was clear that his early works still resonate with his fan base. His fifth studio album, Let’s Start Here, is a far departure from his bass-thumping feature-heavy 2020 rap album, Lil Boat 3, and his 2021 mixtape ode to Detroit rap, Michigan Boy Boat. Choosing to work with a bevy of skilled studio musicians and engineers, Yachty created a kaleidoscope of sounds that blended influences from classic psychedelic rock bands like Pink Floyd to the new age disco-style ‘70s rhythms of Daft Punk’s 2013 commercial album, Random Access Memories.
While Let’s Start Here has received mixed reviews, it earned praise from respected music figures like Questlove for stepping out of the rap paradigm. Yachty’s ascension from the days of being chastened by older rappers like Joe Budden is evident through his catalog, and on Tuesday night, he merged the old with the new, putting together a three-part set that pleased most of his loyal fan base.
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One major difference in the show compared to most at The Fillmore was the extra security that kept the floor at a comfortable capacity in order to avoid overcrowding. Many weren’t able to access the lower-level bathrooms and patio due to the anticipated frenzy of some of Yachty’s more hyped tracks like 2020’s “Coffin,” the NBA YoungBoy collab “NBAYOUNGBOAT,” and the Playboi Carti-featured “Get Dripped.”
But moshing was the furthest thing from the crowd’s mind. Yachty’s all-women band, The Silver Sisters, consisting of drummer Monica Carter, guitarist Quenequia Graves, keyboardist Kennedy Avery Smith, bass player Téja Veal, and vocalists Lea Grace Swinson and Romana R. Sainti hit the stage a little past 9:30 p.m. Starting the evening with the breezy ‘70s disco soul-style track, “drive ME crazy!,” from Let’s Start Here, Yachty casually walked out onto the stage singing his first verse to resounding cheers. Taking the time to properly greet the audience and introduce his band following the opening, the lights dimmed and the trilling synths from “the ride-” echoed throughout the venue. At times, especially for the heartfelt love song, “sAy sOMETHINg,” it felt more like a Bon Iver show rather than a teenage rap concert– although it was a lot chattier. With atmospheric vocals and timely instrumental accents, the first rock portion of the show was impressive and even included a cover of Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” as a transition to the rap segment of the performance.
Though Yachty has presumably earned a new audience with his recent musical shift, it was evident that most in the building were ready to get lit to his early catalog. Performing a medley of his 2023 singles like “SOLO STEPPIN CRETE BOY” and “Slide,” it was full-on jump mode with phones in the air for “Get Dripped.” He asked for a moment of silence for his fallen comrade Juiceworld, who passed away in 2019, which inspired one of the loudest sing-alongs of the evening. He then brought the energy back up to a frenzied level for “NBAYOUNGBOAT,” “Flex Up,” and “Coffin” before reaching back to early hits and collabs “Minnesota,” “Broccoli” (featuring DRAM), “iSpy” (featuring Kyle), and “From The D to The A” (featuing Tee Grizzley). After his trippy 2022 codeine-influenced track “Poland” and an animated “Strike (Holster),” Yachty brought it all the way back to the song that changed his life, “One Night,” and showed his gratitude to the fans who’ve been rocking with him since 2016.
The Silver Sisters came back for a dramatic atmospheric and sonic shift with vigorous distorted guitar riffs and thundering drums of “IVE OFFICIALLY LOST ViSiON!!!!” that enveloped the venue. Yachty finished with four songs from Let’s Start Here: “THE zone~,” “WE SAW THE SUN!,” and a booming rendition of his most psychedelic rock-influenced track, “the BLACK seminole.”
It was an evening that both defied and reaffirmed our presumptions about a still-young rapper who was once the poster child of “SoundCloud rap.” While still utilizing the auto-tune vocals that have become customary in modern music, Yachty has seamlessly transitioned his sound into more experimental arenas, but he hasn’t forgotten or dismissed his fans who still adore the simple and jaunty songs that propelled his career. Much like the title to his latest album may suggest, it could be the genesis of something far more expansive for Yachty, as he navigates an ever-evolving music landscape and shifting tides.