Lil Pump shares a lot in common with his primary audience: his age (17-years-old), his love of a flamboyance that seems rebellious but isn’t and his absolute and unquestionable obedience to adolescent urges to wreck shit for the sake of self-indulgence. Lil Pump is an enigma; a distortion of rap is produced, marketed, and performed. But he’s also a sign of the times, and his sold-out audience at the Fillmore—an audience that was as much a draw as Lil Pump—showed that this kid from Miami, Florida full of volcanic energy may be here to stay longer than anyone is ready to accept.
The energy flowing through the Fillmore prior to Lil Pump’s show was hard to quantify. At most rap shows, there is an identifiable ebb and flow of emotion from beginning to end, with a nice mix of people ready to turn up and those just happy to sit back and chill. The latter was completely missing from Pump’s audience. Everyone I bumped into and sneaked by on my way to the upper terraces was seemingly one minute away from yelling Lil Pump’s signature shout, “ESKEDDDDDDDITTT” — “Let’s get it,” and losing their shit. And while this air of hype was intoxicating for someone who’s been listening to rap his entire life, it also showed itself to be unsustainable. Prior to Pump romping out onto the stage, his DJ/hype man went through the prerequisite rap hits of the moment to build more energy in the crowd. As each song came and went, a pattern began to develop where the young crowd would go from almost tearing the venue apart to quickly subsiding into disinterest if each song was played more than 30 seconds. It was like watching musical ADD on repeat.
Pump’s performance—one that included a five minute break mid-way through his set where he literally walked off stage—was the definition of lethargic energy. Songs like “D Rose” and “Gucci Gang” hit the crowd with a wave of adrenaline that quickly subsided into a placid observance dominated by people Snapchatting about how “hyped” they were. You would think Lil Pump’s songs, most of which are less than 3 minutes long, would be perfect for this type of crowd but it just felt off. It felt like the crowd had burnt itself out much too early, and that feeling carried into Pump’s performance. At one point, he dove into the crowd only to reappear shoeless. As he climbed back onto the stage, with his Gucci sneakers somewhere in the ocean of kids, Pump resembled a half-baked version of himself devoid of pomp and flamboyance. Walking out of the Fillmore, I thought about that kid in the crowd who was now the owner of a pair of sneakers worth more than his entire closet. That kid, much like Lil Pump, has something unique, something that his peers don’t have. But, just like Lil Pump, that kid probably has no idea what to do with it.