Review: This rap show was low on turnout, but also featured plenty of (cough, cough) highs

·8 min read

Ten minutes and three songs into his co-headlining set at PNC Music Pavilion on Thursday night, Logic broke into the 2019 hip-hop hit he made with Eminem, spitting out a rapid-fire lyrical assault that would tie most mortals’ tongues into knots:

F--- rap, bustin’ like an addict with a semi-automatic

Who done had it, and he ready for anybody to buck back ...

But just a few more lines into “Homicide,” the rapper shut the song down mid-sentence.

“Hello?” Logic piped, as his bespectacled face scanned the crowd that had gathered to see him and Wiz Khalifa. “Oh my God. What’s goin’ on? We got some (expletive) out there that are too scared to throw your hands up and scream and make noise? ... Come on. We’re gonna try this one more time.” Then he started the song over again.

Frankly, his fans didn’t seem to get much louder the second time around. Although, truth be told, he didn’t have as many to work with as he perhaps was expecting.

On the one hand — as a regular patron of Charlotte’s largest music venue — it was weird but wonderful (and certainly convenient) to head to see a major act here and not encounter a snarl on an I-485 exit ramp, or a logjam on Highway 29 trying to get onto Pavilion Boulevard, or a backup at the gates to get in.

On the other — as someone who fully expected Logic and Khalifa to pack the house — it was like, Uhhhhhh. Where is everybody?

At 7:21 on a typical show night at PNC (capacity: 20,000), it wouldn’t be remarkable if the concourse felt like Rockefeller Center at Christmastime, where you couldn’t get 10 feet without being in someone’s way — or without someone being in your way. But

Thursday night, at 7:21, the concourse looked like this as I headed for my seat:

The scene on the footpath inside PNC Music Pavilion less than an hour before Logic came on stage Thursday evening.
The scene on the footpath inside PNC Music Pavilion less than an hour before Logic came on stage Thursday evening.

When I arrived at that seat, a few minutes later, all but five of the 41 other ones in my row in Section 1 were empty. And that wasn’t the only mostly-empty row underneath the pavilion. Not by a long shot.

You couldn’t blame the weather. Although there was a slight delay getting the gates open due to the threat of storms, a half-hour later the clouds parted. By the time Logic stepped on stage right around sunset, the mercury was on the verge of mercifully dipping into the 70s.

You also couldn’t blame the lineup. Opener 24kGoldn is a rising star (exhibit A: 2020 No. 1 hit “Mood”), and Khalifa and Logic have attracted significant crowds here in years past headlining both by themselves and with help. (In July 2016, Logic shared top billing with G-Eazy here, then five days later, Khalifa arrived with Snoop Dogg.) Two Saturdays ago, Khalifa and Logic’s “Vinyl Verse Tour” played to a “seemingly sold out crowd” at Phoenix’s 20,000-plus-capacity Ak-Chin Pavilion.

READ MORE: The 22 Charlotte-area concerts we want to see most between now and 2023

Maybe rap fans blew their summer-concert budget at Kendrick Lamar’s show at Spectrum Center last week? Or at Chris Brown’s collab concert with Lil Baby at PNC on Tuesday night? (I missed the latter, unfortunately, but someone who was there said that crowd also seemingly was a sold-out one.)

Whatever the case may be, what the people who did show up got was a concert that might have left them wanting more.

As many co-headliners do, Logic and Khalifa alternate who goes first and who gets the prime-time spot; and in Charlotte, Logic led off — with a series of flows that were expertly delivered and smartly curated, making sure he came out of the gate with songs his fans know well (“Keanu Reeves,” “Like Woah,” “Everybody,” “Homicide,” “Ballin”) before trying out something from his 2022 album “Vinyl Days.”

It’s fascinating enough to hear him do fast-rap verses on Spotify, be it an older or newer cut. It’s straight-up brain-scrambling to hear them in person. To behold him somersaulting out of “Homicide” and straight into the Eminem part of “Forgot About Dre” is a thing of live-hip-hop beauty.

Logic performs at PNC Music Pavilion on Thursday night.
Logic performs at PNC Music Pavilion on Thursday night.

My complaint is that there just wasn’t enough of his rapping.

Yes, if you look at his setlist below, there are 25 songs on it. Many of them, however, didn’t amount to much more than snippets. For example (one of too many to list here), he only did the intro of “Icy.” Same with “Commando.” I thought maybe he just didn’t want to do the Gucci Mane or the G-Eazy parts. But then he also only covered a small portion of “Cocaine,” which is all him on his 2019 album “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.”

Moreover, given that he was only on stage for 66 minutes, he seemed to spend an inordinate amount of those preaching some form of his “peace, love and positivity” mantra.

Like: “I don’t want y’all to forget, no matter where the f--- you are in the crowd, whether you know the person to your left or right or not, they are your (expletive) family tonight. Make sure you takin’ care of your family, alright? Everyone’s safe.”

And: “This world is a world of enough. It always tells you you’re not good enough, handsome enough, pretty enough, smart enough, good enough, this enough, that enough. You (expletive) are enough. You are enough!”

They’re nice sentiments, obviously. I just eventually found myself wishing for more rapping and less yapping. (Although I will say that he created a couple of cool moments by singling out and shouting out two separate fans he recognized as die-hards, both of whom were promised a boatload of free Logic merch.)

Thirty minutes after Logic wrapped, Wiz Khalifa stepped up to a microphone stand on a 10-foot riser toward the back of the stage to do the two things he’s best known for, at the same time: rapping while taking big long drags from a giant blunt.

“If you came here to smoke with Wiz Khalifa, light that s--- the f--- up,” Khalifa bellowed after finishing the first song of his set, 2014 anthem “We Dem Boyz.”

As is typical of his performances, there were almost-constant reminders throughout his tight 62-minute set that he likes to get high —and the almost-constant scent of marijuana, thanks to all the concertgoers who were able to sneak their stashes through security.

Wiz Khalifa blows smoke during his set in Charlotte.
Wiz Khalifa blows smoke during his set in Charlotte.

Before “Hate Bein’ Sober,” Wiz and his crew tossed into the pit a couple dozen 3-foot-long inflatable joints emblazoned with the words “Khalifa Kush” (which is, of course, the cannabis icon’s weed brand). During “Bake Sale,” a video animation showed pot flowers on a conveyor belt being turned into cupcakes. Another during “So High” showed buds floating like asteroids in outer space.

“Let me tell you something, man,” Khalifa said between “Bake Sale” and “So High.” “They try to tell you that you can’t smoke as much weed as you want to, or live your life. Or be productive as you wanna be. But I’m here to say, ‘F--- that s---.’”

That’s all very similar to stuff I’ve seen and heard at his shows before. There were also some new wrinkles, however — and they were ... both amusing and a little unsettling.

While performing “Remember You,” which is actually a pretty thoughtful song, he grabbed a fog machine hose but didn’t pull the trigger on it until he was done simulating an action that we won’t talk about in a family newspaper. Needless to say, when he was finished, he was on his back, and fog was everywhere.

Then for the finale, “Taylor Gang,” he welcomed his 9-year-old son, Sebastian, onto the stage, and looked like a very proud papa as the shirtless boy emptied tallboy cans of Liquid Death (don’t worry, it’s a brand of water) onto his face.

The only thing more outrageous, honestly, was the fact that Wiz and Logic never appeared on stage at the same time.

I just don’t get it. The two have collaborated multiple times to make music — “High Today,” “Sucker for Pain,” “Indica Badu,” “Still Ballin’” — and the stars aligned to put them on tour together. Uhhhh, (insert shrug emoji here).

Who knows? Maybe that’s just not the way Logic rolls. When he was here with G-Eazy in 2016, they also did distinctly separate sets; meanwhile, Khalifa and Snoop that same summer seemed to have a terrific time teaming up throughout their night.

Oh well. Next time? And next time, hopefully they’ll have a better turnout.

Although at least, for once, getting out of PNC’s parking lot was a breeze.

Crowded down front, but if you look closely — there are lots of empty blue seats toward the back of the pavilion.
Crowded down front, but if you look closely — there are lots of empty blue seats toward the back of the pavilion.

Logic’s setlist

1. “Keanu Reeves”

2. “Like Woah”

3. “Everybody”

4. “Homicide”

5. “Ballin”

6. “Bleed It”

7. “44 More”

8. “Orville”

9. “Metropolis”

10. “Perfect”

11. “Midnight”

12. “Fade Away”

13. “Wu Tang Forever”

14. “Icy”

15. “COMMANDO”

16. “Cocaine”

17. “Mama” / “Show Love”

18. “Wannabe”

19. “Gang Related”

20. “Soul Food II”

21. “Under Pressure”

22. “DadBod”

23. “Upgrade”

24. “1-800-273-8255”

25. “Everyday”

Logic performs in Charlotte on Thursday.
Logic performs in Charlotte on Thursday.

Wiz Khalifa’s setlist

1. “We Dem Boyz”

2. “Black and Yellow”

3. “Or Nah”

4. “Remember You”

5. “You and Your Friends”

6. “The Thrill”

7. “23”

8. “Roll Up”

9. “Hate Bein’ Sober”

10. “Big Daddy Wiz”

11. “Memory Lane”

12. “Bad A-- B------”

13. “Keys”

14. “Bake Sale”

15. “So High”

16. “Mezmorized”

17. “Young, Wild & Free”

18. “See You Again”

19. “Taylor Gang”

Wiz Khalifa with his son Sebastian at PNC Music Pavilion.
Wiz Khalifa with his son Sebastian at PNC Music Pavilion.