Thirty-two-year-old Texas rapper/Internet personality Riff Raff made a Seattle stop on his Neon Icon tour at The Showbox Wednesday, packing it full of young, almost entirely white fans who were “turnt up” and ready to party.
Within five minutes of entering the sweltering venue, a stranger asked this reporter if he “knew what’s up with some coke or molly.”
Riff Raff took the stage just before 10, looking like a neon icon himself, clutching not one, but two mics and wearing an all-bright-neon, all-over-print bucket hat, tank top and board shorts outfit, flanked by a handful of young blondes sporting short shorts and fake tans.
As he tore into his reference-packed songs about how he “should’ve played for the Raiders” and how he has six rings like Michael Jordan, mashed-up footage of the ‘90s sports highlights, TV shows and movies he was invoking flashed across the giant screen behind him.
There were booths on the sides of the stage with blue- and pink-haired go-go dancers in them, plus inflatable palm trees and giant cardboard cutouts of his head, Katy Perry’s and a husky puppy’s. Combined with the hard-hitting beats — half booming 808 “trap” rap production and half crossover EDM-rave stuff –- it was sensory overload, but the crowd seemed to enjoy every minute of it.
Riff Raff scored bonus points with his “Rap Game Sleepless in Seattle,” a sports name-drop anthem that mentions Ken Griffey, Jr. and Sr., Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton and even Brian Bosworth, and asserts “the way I ball, coulda played for the Seahawks.”
He debuted “Rap Game” at his first Seattle show at the modest-sized Nectar Lounge last year, but his fame seems to have increased exponentially since then.
Though the audience seemed enthusiastic, it did start thinning out as the show progressed, with many fans apparently content to just witness their new rapper hero for a few moments, before worrying about where the after party was.
More so than with most other rappers, Riff Raff’s air of cartoonish celebrity seems to be the focal point of his appeal. And while this might make it easy to dismiss him, the underlying sense that he’s actually having the most fun in the room makes it a lot harder to hate.