Home / Music / Concert Reviews / Rae Sremmurd w/ Lil Yachty @ The Rave

Rae Sremmurd w/ Lil Yachty @ The Rave

Oct. 14, 2016

Oct. 17, 2016
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Photo credit: Eric Rogers/The Rave
The ideal of cutthroat masculinity is so baked into rap music at this point that even the genre’s youngest newcomers tend to arrive hardened and grizzled, old beyond their years. That makes the unabashed boyishness of Rae Sremmurd all that much more refreshing. Brothers Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmy are in their early 20s, but they look much younger, and they sound it, too; they rap about girls and parties in excitable, breaking voices barely removed from puberty. Where their older peers boast about strip clubs and drugs with mechanical matter-of-factness, as if there’s no real joy behind their hedonism, Rae Sremmurd’s take on the good life is all sugary breakfast cereal, puppy dogs and video games. They’re loving the hell out of every second on this earth.

That gleeful spirit comes across as clearly on stage as it does on their records, last year’s singles-packed SremmLife and this year’s similarly infectious SremmLife 2. Headlining a sold-out stop on their SremmLife 2 tour Friday at The Rave, Milwaukee’s favorite multi-venue concert hall/year-round haunted house (it may be the only venue in the city that somehow seems less creepy with Halloween decorations), the brothers kept the energy at a jittery, euphoric high throughout their entire hour-long set. Since their breakout hits “No Flex Zone” and “No Type,” Rae Sremmurd have made the rounds at music festivals, and they seem to have cribbed a few moves from some of the more EDM-minded acts they’ve shared stages with. On each song they were accompanied by bright, cartoonish video projections, casting wiry silhouettes against the screen as they darted from one giddy, sing-song verse to the next.

It was an aspirational example of how much sheer fun a rap show can be. Even the pre-recorded guest verses—usually the saddest part of any rap concert, a reminder of the genre’s reliance on backing tracks—were a blast; the brothers delivered Kodak Black’s “Real Chill” and Gucci Mane’s “Black Beatles” bars with the same reverence the crowd showed reciting their own back at them. There’s a shelf life on music this youthful. One day Rae Sremmurd will outgrow their act; the hits will either dry up or they’ll move on to other things (Swae Lee is already eying a solo career). What a joy it was, then, that Milwaukee got to see them while they were in their prime.

Rae Sremmurd’s SremmLife II Tour paired them with one of 2016’s fastest-rising rappers, Lil Yachty, an Internet phenomenon whose single “One Night” quickly crossed over to commercial radio. Yachty is just 19, so he came up under the first generation of singing/not-really-singing Atlanta rappers, and he follows in their skewed footsteps—iLoveMakonnen is his Gucci Mane. A pair of hype men and some generation air-horn injections helped him perk up his songs, which landed with considerably more oomph on stage than they do on his drowsy mixtapes. Yachty still has a ways to go as a performer, but judging from the enthused crowd, he’ll get there. Smart money says he’ll be a headliner next time he returns to town.  

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