Friday night’s Rolling Stone magazine party at International Market Square was one of those Super Bowl week shindigs where the crowd spent more time looking around the room than it did watching the performances. Too bad, because the live sets by hip-hop stars Migos and T-Pain both were rock-solid, while the celebrity spotting wasn’t exactly super-exciting.
A grab-bag array of guests hung out in the roped-off VIP areas at the center of IMS’s four-story rotunda, from TV practitioner Dr. Oz to Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, and actress Kim Delaney to Timberwolves players Karl-Anthony Towns and Shabazz Muhammad.
The most impressive array of faces in the crowd at the invite-mostly affair was predictably the roster of NFL players not resting up for Sunday’s game, from current competitors Odell Beckahm Jr. (Giants), Golden Tate (Lions) and Emmanuel Sanders (Broncos) to retirees Tim Tebow, Ray Lewis and Emmitt Smith.
Having the league’s all-time leading rusher in attendance led to the party’s highlight moment. Wrapping up their wickedly fun but seriously tight 35-minute set, the members of Migos launched into their song “Emmitt Smith” with the man himself sitting to the side of the stage, looking as excited as he did during all those trips to the end zone.
“He’s been with us since the beginning,” Migos rapper Quavo bragged as he bear-hugged Smith, then launched into the verses: “50, 40, there he go / 30, 20, down the sideline.”
Quavo and his bandmates Offset and Takeoff came to the Rolling Stone party the same week their faces graced the cover of the magazine’s latest issue.
The Atlanta trio proved worthy of the honor, delivering the best tracks off their newly issued third album, “Culture II,” including the sputtering “Walk It Talk It” – a perfect pre-game warm-up/throw-down – and “MotorSport.” The latter spotlighted the well-honed, hot-potato-like, mic-passing lyrical interplay between the bandmates, also heard in the older faves “Bad and Boujee” and “Slippery.” It’s about time we have a true group for rap stars again, instead of all the individual players.
In his 45-minute opening set, the truly one-of-a-kind T-Pain showed more energy than all three Migos members combined, running back and forth on the stage like he wanted to get on the Eagles’ defensive roster before Sunday’s game. The veteran Florida rapper dropped in some of the big hits on which he was a featured guest, including Flo Rida’s “Low” and Lil Jon’s “Snap Yo Fingers.” His own PC-challenged standards like “Buy You a Drank” and “FBGM” went over well, too, although Dr. Oz might have had a thing or two to say about them if he was listening in the crowd.
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658