The easy-to-do dance move known as ‘dabbing'; you know it. A simple nodding motion of your head into your elbow area and you’re done. Even Hilary Clinton has, very awkwardly, dabbed by this point. Most of older white America probably doesn’t know where the move originated, but the roots have been traced back to Atlanta trap rapper Skippa Da Flippa, who first dabbed in his 2014 “How Fast Can You Count It” video. However, the most known’ dabbers’ in hip-hop right now are undoubtedly Skippa’s good friends, the raucous trio known as Migos; so much so, that their latest national outing (with Skippa and fellow dab pioneer Rich the Kid opening) has been dubbed “The Dab Tour”.
I attended the Philadelphia stop of the tour, and it was easily the most dabs I’ve ever seen take place in a two hour span. The mostly young, racially mixed audience seemed to be stuck in a perpetual version of the dance move. After the very excited DJ warmed the sold-out crowd up, Skippa came out for a short set which was ultimately forgettable. The sound wasn’t the best, mainly because Da Flippa wasn’t performing over instrumentals, but over full songs with all of his vocals in them, giving the audio an overcrowded, unpleasant sound. His energy was decent, dabbing his way across the stage for 20 minutes, but the material blended together, with the only stand out being cult favorite “Fresher Den Me“.
Rich the Kid came immediately after Skippa; since I was in the restroom during this transition, when I came back out, I had no idea that a different act was even on. Rich also rapped over his vocals for the whole set, and might’ve dabbed even more than Skippa did. In his 20 minute performance, he ran through tracks such as “Quit Playin’” and “Plug” with a lazy, but admittedly charismatic approach. The mostly inebriated crowd was bouncing along with each track, as despite not having the strongest overall material, Rich the Kid is a decent showman. He had the DJ drop buzzing Philly native Lil Uzi’s hit featuring him, “WDYW“, which went over well with the crowd. Rich ended his set by bringing out another Philadelphian, PNB Rock, to perform a song, which was also well received, but these kids were ready for Migos.
It was refreshing to hear the headliner that the openers sounded like imitations of, as all three members (Quavo, Offset and Takeoff) took the stage for the capacity crowd. The energy was palpable as they started off with a flurry of new tracks like “Plan B“, “Chances“, “You Wanna See“, “WOA” and single “Commando“, all from their latest project YRN 2, and all of which the crowd’s majority knew the words to. Migos rapped over their own vocals like the openers did at times, but overall the sound during their set was the best it was all night (which, to be fair, is typical for the headlining set).
While the concertgoers were digging the new stuff, I heard requests for them to “play some sold shit” all around me; Migos heeded their fans’ needs. Breakout smash “Hannah Montana” dropped, and there was dabbing and twerking galore amongst the crowd. The Atlanta-based rappers rolled into tracks from what many consider their best mixtape No Label II, dropping “Antidope“, “Ounces“, “Freak No More” and “Emmitt Smith“. The size of Migos’ prolific catalog provides a ton of material to choose from, which made the conspicuous absence of well-known hits like “Versace” and “Fight Night” disappointing and confusing. However, the extremely ‘turnt’ fans didn’t seem to care, dabbing their way into oblivion.
Migos bounced through their jam with DJ Carnage, “Bricks“, hit single “One Time” from their Yung Rich Nation album, and the pretty misogynistic “Wishy Washy” which was still met with fevered fanfare by the sizable amount of females in the audience. If you’re going to Migos shows to hear socially conscious lyrics, and not to dab your face off to bass heavy beats, 808s and rapid-fire flows, then I don’t know why you’re attending. While I enjoyed their set overall, though, I admit the sequencing of the tracks they performed was a bit awkward, and the energy level was a little lower than I’d hoped for.
Also, weird between-song banter, like Quavo asking the crowd “who got they college degree?” before launching into their finale, dabbing anthem “Pipe It Up“, threw the vibe off just a bit. Regardless, despite mediocre openers, Migos did their thing for their headlining performance, despite the set bring a bit short and missing some key songs that would’ve elevated it from ‘good’ to ‘great’. Either way, as much as I dig their music, I think I’ve had my fill of dabbing for the month…or year…or life.
all photos by Michael White