Lucki: 2 Neptune n Back Tour Opening Night at TLA 3/2

Written by: Quentin Zimbalist

 On a brisk night in March (2nd), Philadephia’s Theater of the Living Arts on 3rd and South street hosted the first show of Lucki’s “2 Neptune n Back” tour. Advertised as doors at 6:30 and show at 7, we arrived at a fashionable 7:15, only to be met by a lengthy line of guests, not yet let into the venue. 

The pre-entry antics were ridiculous. Ticket-holders were being denied entry left and right. In the moments prior to getting inside, a group of teens were barred entry for “seeming drunk,” while their only-partially-vaccinated friend had to witness the rejection from outside the barriers. After a short fuss, the line continued moving.

Once inside, there was a quick wait before the procession of openers began. I almost don’t want to understand the mystery of how openers get chosen for rap shows at larger venues. Frankly, that process might not even exist. Nevertheless, the 5 openers performed, with acts spanning from a person in a fursuit, to a guy who “came all the way from Delaware.” This marathon of openers culminated in the show everyone came to see: Lucki, Supertune, Scotty2hotty, in the flesh walking meagerly on stage to the backdrop of “Me Myself & I” off his timeless project, DaysB4III.

Lucki, an indisputable underground legend, has more cult classics than most people can keep track of. His set for this tour proved that to be all so true. It began around 9:30, and had an impressive one-hour run-time. He performed countless audience favorites. Tracks like “More than Ever” and “Peach Dream'' captivated the crowd. The set also featured newer cuts like “Neptune vs. Industry” off his 2021 album WAKE UP LUCKI with Philly producer of Working On Dying, F1lthy. (This was somewhat of an all-star reunion tape, they’ve collaborated many times before reaching the levels of fame they’re at today). He also performed his newest single “Super Uris” live for the first time ever.

With the exception of 2 songs, Lucki only performed music from Freewave 3 onwards. One hour of exclusively fan-favorite music released since 2019 is quite the hefty set, especially considering most of the tracks he played had a run time under 2 minutes. Lucki himself, much like the crowd who stood through 2 hours of openers, was kinda fatigued – but this didn't stop him and everyone else on and off stage from getting and staying turnt up for the majority of the show. Though, Lucki did take a few breaks to sit down and hydrate. I wish we, the crowd, had that luxury.

 Those who have followed Lucki for a longer time have a decent understanding of how he’s transformed as an artist, and a human, in the past 5 years. His music thematically pertains to his personal life, and where he sees himself fitting into everything. Witnessing 2022 Lucki is  undoubtedly a surreal experience for any long-term fan. He is no longer a meager, frail, and fragile Lucki. He seemed content on stage, with where he is in life, and what he’s accomplished in his career. When rapping along to his older tracks, he often skipped over bars about sadness, resentment, and hunger – focusing his energy on spitting the more boastful bars, and reciting his stories of fast cars, clean drugs, and transient love. 

    When he was performing certain tracks from Almost There, Freewave 3, and Watch My Back, it was hard to look at Lucki without seeing an image of the past. Though this was my first time seeing him in the flesh, the images of Lucki’s past were as visceral as they could have possibly been. His lyrical content has historically been a window into his raw, unfiltered life – and most longtime fans feel like they have a personal connection to the Chicago rapper and his growth.

Hints of genuine happiness shined out from Lucki's presence. He's been vocal about his love for live shows, and after finally making it to one that didn’t get canceled, I can see why. There were moments, like when the DJ cut out the backtrack to “TUNE & SCOTTY" and the room was filled with an acapella chorus of audience members yelling about being geeked like Thugger, where Lucki’s smile was infectious. 

He’s made a serious impact on all his fans, whether those fans have been following for the short or long term. There are few musically unifying forces as strong as Lucki, and that was apparent in the “2 Neptune n Back” tour’s opening night at TLA.