Big Sean Fader Fort, Austin TX, March 20

Big Sean Fader Fort, Austin TX, March 20
Photo: Ellie Pritts
It seemed surprising that Southern, trap-inflected rap trio Migos would have a full-fledged band behind them: a drummer, a keyboardist and a DJ. But it wasn't Migos that the crew were setting up for; it was secret guest Big Sean, who was presumably moved up for scheduling reasons.
"Fuck all those phones!" he jeered the crowd, who were trying, all at the same time, to take it in and save it for later. "Y'all gotta get live!"
And they did. Sean isn't my favourite rapper, but he's a force to be reckoned with live, all hunger and silver-tongued rhymes, and he got the crowd going right away with the stacked, quicksilver triplets of "Paradise" — the a cappella break near the end, especially.
Rumours swirled that Kanye West might appear, so when Sean swung into "Mercy," there was tension in the air, but as he transitioned into his verse from Wiz Khalifa's "Gang Bang," it seemed not to be.

That seemed to be fine with the crowd. With them securely in the palm of his hand, he used "Higher" to segue into an inspirational speech in which he urged them to follow their dreams and transcend their reality, whatever it may be. Then, he asked the audience if they were ready to turn up, and played his new hit, "Blessings."
That he followed it with Kanye's "Clique," Chief Keef's "Don't Like" and Drake's "All Me" seemed like a bad sign: Are all of Sean's biggest live bangers still not his?

Still, he's a top-notch performer; he's got excellent mic technique and crisp, clear delivery that's complemented by his staid band, especially his drummer, who added the right amount of emphasis to everything the DJ and keyboardist conjured.
And then, just when it mattered most, he busted out "I Don't Fuck With You" and E-40 joined him onstage. Big Sean has the whole package when it comes to live performance, where his hardscrabble reputation and natural charm serve him better than on record.