Artists: Nicki Minaj, Lil Pump, Mura Masa, Kali Uchis, San Holo, Montell2099 and The Katayanagi Twins
Date / Venue: Wednesday January 9th, 2018 - Spark Arena, Auckland
Millennials flocked from all over New Zealand, because FOMO by NIGHT was in every way the perfect show for any glitter hungry, see-through mesh induced, neon loving, hip hop and electric enthusiast’s dream.
Kicking off the long awaiting dance festival in Brisbane, Australia on Sunday, New Zealand was waiting for their number to be called for the much anticipated night show. A mammoth line-up that was announced late last year, included performances by The Katayanago Twins, who kicked off the Auckland show, based in Spark Arena, with New Zealand’s own, and 21 Savage collaborator, Montell2099. Dutch electronic man himself, San Holo, whose experimental, and galaxy sized energy induced flow, filled the Arena with enduring, yet simplistic EDM. Beating to her own drum, Los Angeles-based artist, Kali Uchis adds her own existential flavour to the night. Still beaming off the release of her latest album Isolation, Uchis owns a series of guest features prior to Isolation that have given her Grammy nominations, including collaborations with Gorillaz and Tyler The Creator.
Multi-instrumentalist and producer Mura Masa gave the crowd a dose of his signature tropical-inflected house, sort of like Kygo if you will, including catchiest number of the year, Till The World Falls with Nile Rodgers, Chic and Nao, who is also featured on their summer classic and chart topper FireFly. Leading the night, and FOMO headliner, was Nicki Minaj, one of the world’s most influential hip-hop artists and respected queen of rap.
Nicki has made herself quite comfortable on music charts worldwide, starting at Billboard Music Awards, BET Awards and numerous Grammy Award nominations along the way.
To start things off, I was happy to see Spark Arena fill up with so much “Festival Uniform” attire, that I thought, holy shit, am I experiencing New Year’s all over again? With each act flowing easily after aother, there wasn’t much waiting around, which is what most of us dread when attending these events, it can be the difference from a great night to just a show with long unneeded breaks.
We were spoilt this time round, as each performance absolutely nailed their times and brought pure fire to their sets. I'm going to be honest; I wasn’t a massive fan of much of the line-up and had to quickly listen to some of their songs on Spotify to just get a brief overview of their sound. But damn, I was quickly 360’d to a different opinion. The dark sheep of the night for me was definitely Kali Uchis, her voice took me to whole new different world of music, I can’t believe I hadn't heard of her prior to this show, especially after realising how much of a mark she's already made in the industry. Her self-determined sound has won respect from peers and fans alike as a singer, songwriter and director of her artistic identity.
The whole night I was waiting for Mura Masa and Nicki, as I'm sure most of the arena was. That’s not to say that the others weren't great, it was however what you would expect from an event like this. A montage of the night would go like this. Mosh pit - alcohol - hype dancing - a couple arguing next to me - a champagne bottle - fire- smoke - another couple fighting in front of me - alcohol spilt on my shoes - screaming the words to the one song I knew of Anime - couple next to me making up and starting to pelvic thrust - people watching - saw a dude on a girl’s shoulders - moshing. I think that about covers about all of that part of the night.
I was pretty excited to see Mura Masa, or to those who know him well Alex Crossan, as I was pretty impressed with his last album, so I was ecstatic to see him live and actually get a better feeling for the DJ. And yeah I was not disappointed, what a set, with the stage at his beck and call, the DJ 1000% dominated the stage and brought to life the festival feeling. Even at just 22 he knows how to command the crowd no matter the size. Even if we were all in a closed arena, and not scorching in the sun. He played every song I expected him too and even flicked in a few cheeky remixes in there too, with live electric drumming too, what more could you ask of the kid?
Now before I start wrapping this up, I must add a disclaimer before I do so. I’m not the biggest Nicki fan, but I would choose her over other mainstream rappers in the game, so I was VERY interested to see how her set was going to do down, also very anxious as I didn’t know whether or not this would sway me in a different direction, but let’s get all of this out, and we can come to a conclusion together.
The feisty sarcastic-mouthed rapper gave the thought-out polished performance you would expect from an international star of her status. She added to the show with backup dancers and giant speakers on the stage, and her infamous “Queen” chair and logo behind her. While her latest album, Queen, didn’t have singles that I would have thought were hits, Minaj proved she was still the boss, with her classic anthems like Starships and Anaconda, which had the crowd mimicking her flawless rap flow. Her outfit was beyond my expectation, as I've seen her shows online, but it was by far, more extraordinary to see in person. Decked out in all yellow, sequins and of course a yellow wig, she definitely stood out the most tonight. Her stage presence was what I imagined it to be, and her sarcastic and boss-like attitude mirrors her stage calibre perfectly.
From side eyes, to muffled grunts, it was both amusing and respectful at the same time, and she doesn't shy away from who she is. I love having no expectation to a show, as then everything blows my mind, like the fact that I literally knew every damn song she performed, and for someone who doesn't listen to Nicki on the reg, that shocked me. It just proved how far she has come in the game as I was belting out songs from her first album.
What I loved the most about her set is that both her and the DJ interacted with the crowd and played hit after hit, and then only chorus and raps from featured songs which felt perfect for the crowd. There was a lap dance in there by a lucky man named Manu, who got pulled up on stage and then later was asked to bring his girlfriend on stage too so that Nicki herself could ask if that was okay. I mean who's going to say no to Nicki.
Now remember when I mentioned how the arena was infused with glitter crazy attendants? Well I breathed a sigh of relief to see Nicki did not have glitter smeared on her cheeks like everyone else in the arena, I felt a bit better about myself that I had lost the memo on uniform attire. I guess after all that I've ranked my liking of Nicki to a solid 8/10, purely on the fact that she kept me dancing all night and surprised me on how many of her songs I actually knew. Well played Miss Minaj well played.
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