We are now over a decade removed from the glory days of his career, but B.o.B still has the magic in him. The Atlanta rapper’s latest concert series “Better Than Drugs” marks his triumphant return to the touring lifestyle since his 2017 “Elements” tour.
To kick off the night, the crowd was treated to a sampling board of local rap flavor. Midwest talents Nino Cruz and Praise Da Wolf fed off each other’s emphatically executed verses, delivering an impressive stage presence in a brief but passionate joint set that established the tone for the night. They were followed by Stoughton rapper Freddie Da King whose mellow, emotional flows had the crowd fired up. Despite the change in pace, his performance earned him chants of “Freddie!” as he left the stage. The energy immediately pumped up when Tha Mid City Kid took the stage bouncing around and spitting old-school Eminem-style bars that had me hooked.
After the local rappers, B.o.B’s tour openers were ready to turn it up a notch. At this point, they had to overcome some technical difficulties to satisfy the appetite of a crowd anticipating the headliner’s performance. The first opener Tigo shifted the tone with his melodic trap style that was smooth yet mosh-worthy. Next, Trap Beckham brought fans onstage for a twerk contest featuring some serious motion from an unassuming guy who was the clear fan favorite.
When B.o.B finally took the stage, the air in Liquid was electric. He kicked off his show with tracks from his new album “Better Than Drugs.” B.o.B wasn’t afraid to get up close and personal with the crowd right away: skillfully staying on beat and dapping up clamoring fans. The trippy beats of the songs, coupled with the mind-numbingly colorful visuals on the LCD screens, created a cohesive experience that encouraged everyone to let loose — including B.o.B.
Those waiting for the classics didn’t have to wait very long as B.o.B quickly turned back the clocks and performed his hit 2012 track “So Good.” The carefree attitude of the song made it the perfect soundtrack to a night out; no one in the building could resist the urge to shout the lyrics and dance along.
B.o.B then wasted no time in pulling out back-to-back bangers “Nothin’ on You” and “Magic.” At this point in the performance, B.o.B demonstrated his mastery of stage presence by getting everyone involved in the show and blessing lucky audience members with swigs of vodka and hits from his blunt.
His new single “Ocxn Waves” brought a calm moment of phone flashlight-waving in the sea of dancefloor tunes which B.o.B followed up with a freestyle verse that flaunted his rapping prowess.
By the time he performed the encore — which was naturally his biggest hit “Airplanes” — it was evident B.o.B set out to deliver a set that was short but sweet.
He gave the people what they wanted by working in all of the tracks fans like myself feel nostalgia for. While it was great to hear club bangers, the setlist had ample room for deep cuts from an expansive discography full of hidden gems. Despite the stellar performances of his catchiest tracks, it would have been nice to also see B.o.B rap like only B.o.B can in the songs that highlight his lyrical abilities.
The “Better than Drugs” tour is now heading south with upcoming dates in North Carolina, Mississippi and Georgia. If you’re looking to party to some of the defining music of our generation, be sure to check out a show.
Final Grade: B+