Gig Reviews

Bhad Bhabie – Astor Theatre, Perth 07/12/18

Few could have predicted when Bhad Bhabie arrived on the rap scene with ‘These Heaux’ that she would be playing to devoted fans in Perth, Australia just over a year after but her career has been anything but predictable. The 15 year-old viral star turned rapper has taken herself from meme territory to the rap world with relative ease, to the point where she was nominated alongside Nicki Minaj and Cardi B for Best Female Rapper at the Billboard Awards. While she may still be a divisive figure it’s hard to argue against her success, with over 50 million streams on two of her songs and now a packed out Australian tour.

She arrived in Australia for her first tour armed with her debut mixtape 15 and confidence from a very successful US run. Not that Bhad Bhabie is short of confidence at all. Arriving on stage after a short pump up set from her young female DJs, she strutted around with the ego of rap’s biggest players like Lil Uzi Vert or Travis Scott. She’s pocket-sized but an immediate presence that garnered deafening screams from an audience made up of mostly young girls and mothers with even younger daughters presumably showing them what could be.

Some would approach this show with visions of it being a train wreck but Bhad Bhabie is far too in control to let it be anything like that. For somebody who started performing less than a year ago she works the crowd, staring down audience members and not allowing any fans to slip up when it comes to rapping all the words. The beginning of the show fired along quickly, with no song running for more than two minutes. Each came to a crashing end with an air horn as Bhabie moved onto the next.

The Bhad Bhabie audience is a new kind of music consumer. Rather than relying on radio to serve them their favourite songs, they’re discovering them on streaming platforms. Despite Bhad Bhabie never nabbing a radio hit here in Aus, fans knew everything from icy opener ’15’ to the self-assured ‘Thot Opps’. At times, it was hard to tell what her biggest hits were as the response never really wavered.

In between songs, she served us plenty of that trademark attitude, telling haters to “fuck off” and also slagging off her hometown because they all expected her to take them on tour when she became famous. The latter story preceded ‘Famous’, a song that features lyrics like, “If I see a hatin’ hoe she a mad bhabie.” Like most modern rap shows, she raps over a backing track but she holds her own bar-wise, rarely letting the track do most of the work. That’s more than can be said for plenty of her clout-chasing male peers right now.

With little experience under her belt, there are still a few kinks to be ironed out. The flow of the show was at times clunky but that said, there was something endearing about watching her with two friends of the same age huddle around a laptop before dropping another song to huge screams. We also could’ve done without the prolonged XXXTentacion tribute that was stretched across two songs. Not only did it feel eerie but she is also more than capable of padding the set out without the aid of someone else’s songs. She proved that by chopping features by YG, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Yachty and more off her own songs, relying purely on her verses.

There were a few moments in particular that proved Bhad Bhabie could have the steam to go the distance. ‘Gucci Flip Flops’, her most streamed song, went wild on both occasions that she performed it with the crowd so deafening that you could barely hear her rap. Her breakthrough track ‘Hi Bich’ also garnered a huge response as she looked particular fans in the eyes and screamed, “Hi bich.”

Those coming to the Bhad Bhabie show expecting to fuel their dislike of her are going to be disappointed. While she’s obviously still got work to do as a rapper and lyricist, she’s a natural performer. She commands the stage with strength and a cheeky sass that resonates with all her fans. Don’t get us wrong, from orange prison jumpsuits to dance Mums in crop tops, the people watching was spectacular but more than anything we were taken by the young fans’ dedication to her. Her confident, cocky performance alongside the, at times, hysterical response was enough to prove she’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Bhad Bhabie’s Australian tour continues tonight in Sydney, followed by shows in Melbourne and Adelaide. See dates and details here.

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