Who knew the new St. Louis Music Park in Maryland Heights would quickly become an unlikely haven for national hip-hop acts?
Maybe not quite, but rapper Trippie Redd filled the venue with hip-hop fans last month during the week his album was released, Machine Gun Kelly’s Sept. 28 concert sold out in a day and Friday night’s local stop of Rod Wave’s “SoulFly Tour” was sold out as well.
Rapper-singer Wave is among the current wave of successful young hip-hop stars making big noise on the scene. He has already scored a No. 1-debuting album on the Billboard 200 earlier this year with his “SoulFly” featuring “Richer” and “Tombstone.”
After rising onto the two-tier stage accompanied by a small but efficient band, Wave quickly explained how the show would flow: There would be the “Ghetto Gospel” portion of the show, the “Pray 4 Love” part and the “SoulFly” part, reflecting his three hit albums.
“That’s being said, we’re gonna turn up with y’all,” the low-key rapper promised.
Wave, in his short career, has already been described as the world’s saddest rapper as he wallows in bleak tales of love and pain, though his takeaway message to his fans this night was “though I’ve seen a lot of (crap), there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”
His audience was there for him the entire ride during the near 90-minute set he kicked off with “Street Runner,” “Poison” and “Dark Clouds.”
Wave squeezed in more than 20 songs, most of them abbreviated by cutting the final verse or two, including “Heart on Ice,” “Cuban Links,” “Dark Conversations,” “Rags 2 Riches,” “Sky Priority,” “Gone Til November,” “Girl of My Dreams,” “Letter From Houston” and “Richer.”
Wave wasn’t required to do much heavy vocal lifting during the show. He’d often sing a few lines, lower his microphone and let the fans take over as he’d go in and out. His fans know every word of every song, and used their full lungs to scream-sing his lyrics at him. The audience literally got in more singing time than Wave, and everyone seemed good with that.
Between songs, Wave often shared parts of his life story including being downed by the pandemic, and punctuated every comment with a “ya feel me?”
Throughout the night, Wave told the crowd repeatedly, in his own way, how much he appreciated his fans supporting him.
Among the openers were rappers NoCap and Rubi Rose. NoCap, whose set included “Pain Show,” “Vaccine” and “Gg,” was fully connected to the crowd.
Rubi Rose took a page from Megan Thee Stallion’s early playbook, focusing on her twerk game over rapping at times on songs such as “Twork,” “Hit Yo Dance” and “Nunnadet (stuff),” and even a bit of Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B’s “WAP.”