G Herbo visits Minneapolis for a lackluster night

The Chicago drill rapper’s show felt unprepared and tired, unlike the lively audience

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Ava Kian

Rapper G Herbo performs at Muse Event Center on Sunday, Nov. 28. The performance was part of the Chicago artist’s first time on the road since the release of 25, his highest-charting album, which peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200.

by James Schaak

G Herbo, a star in his Chicago hometown and a steady fixture of the drill subgenre, felt out of place during his brief Sunday night show at the Muse Event Center in Minneapolis.

Born Herbet Randall Wright III, the rapper built his popularity on the South Side of Chicago (“Chi-Raq” as he called it in one 2014 breakout song with Nicki Minaj) with the help of exceptional songwriting skills and a cool, confident consistency.

Unlike Chief Keef and King Louie, who pioneered drill’s hard-hitting, nihilistic depiction of relentless gun violence and ensuing tragedy, G Herbo always came across less abrasive and more writerly than his peers. In 2017, G Herbo’s album title described himself as a “Humble Beast” whereas Chief Keef called himself a “Thot Breaker.”

Even though G Herbo is a little less rowdy than his contemporaries, he certainly does still operate on a higher caliber than the venue that hosted him Sunday night.

The Muse Event Center’s website and Instagram brand the venue as a place for the kinds of straight-laced weddings that hire professional photographers to take pictures of the couple with their parents, pet dogs and floral centerpieces — basically the aesthetic opposite of a typical G Herbo song. Especially in comparison to some of the other venues hosting G Herbo on this tour (Iron City in Birmingham, Alabama or Ritz Theatre in Elizabeth, New Jersey, for example), Muse seemed like an ill fit before the sold-out show even began.

Upon arrival, the line moved at glacial pace, security seemed overwhelmed and some presumably well-connected groups skipped the mess by telling the doormen who they knew, or by giving them cash. It immediately appeared Muse was unprepared after all.

Once entrance was granted after waiting in line for two hours, it was another hour before G Herbo took the stage, so those stuck in the long line remained somewhat unaffected.

During his brief set, which lasted all of 35 minutes, G Herbo focused mostly on his most recent album “25,” a July release that peaked in the top five of the Billboard 200. Named after G Herbo’s current age, the work thematically tackled fatherhood and wisdom, often reflecting on the violence he witnessed in his childhood neighborhood and his rise to fame during adolescence. “25” was another solid entry in G Herbo’s dependable discography.

The strength of the music could not save the lackluster, rushed performance, even while revisiting earlier the rambunctious choruses from his career (there was a time when the top 20 hit “Swervo” and Lil Uzi-assisted “Everything” had a gorilla grip on nearly every high school house party playlist in my Wisconsin hometown).

G Herbo did not exactly need to bring the energy though. The crowd shouted all of his dextrous lyrics right back at him, never ceased to dance and generally seemed to be having an absolute blast.

Upon smelling the crowd’s drug of choice, a security guard yelled that smoking reefer was not allowed inside, no more than 30 minutes before G Herbo’s friend rolled up on stage as a girl got carried out of the bathroom in a stretcher.

Obviously Minneapolis is well-equipped to host rap concerts (G Herbo’s close friend and fellow drill progenitor, Polo G, will perform at The Armory on Thursday) but G Herbo’s Sunday night event felt less like a concert and more like a party, the kinds that are romanticized in Drake songs, Shaderoom headlines and Atlanta club promotion flyers, but not in Minneapolis lore.

Maybe Muse really was the best-equipped venue for this kind of event in the Twin Cities. One thing is for certain: G Herbo’s aptitude and hype far outweighed what he showed the crowd on Sunday night. It looked like the weathered father-of-two just did not want to end his Thanksgiving weekend on a work trip in, of all places, Minneapolis.