Musicians are barely getting a slice of music industry revenue, largely eating off of live performances instead. For ’Tour Tales,’ we dig into the rider requests, delayed shows, diligent preparation, and future of touring by talking with the multitude of people that move behind the scenes. Record executives, photographers, tour managers, artists, and more all break down what goes into touring and why it’s still so vital to the livelihood of your favorite artists. What happens on tour stays on ‘Tour Tales.’
You can describe live shows from Blimes Brixton and Gifted Gab as performances, but they’re really hangout sessions. The lethal rap duo built careers on the road and they’re not slowing down anytime soon.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” the duo talks performing with Method Man in Las Vegas, receiving care packages from fans on the road, and why they miss the stage. Read below.
What did you two have to get used to touring with one another?
Blimes: Personally, I had to stop drinking as much (laughs). I had to fall back on that because now I was a professional part of nightlife. This was my job. I wasn’t a patron of nightlife or having fun by myself, I was doing my job. I was able to dial back my drinking and show up for the team as a team player. For us, we had to get into a flow of when we eat, when [to] show up for soundcheck… Gab and I had to advocate for ourselves because, as women, it takes us longer to get ready and prepare… So, we advocated for ourselves and our schedules to have time and space in between soundcheck, dinner and the show in order for us to be ready.
Gab: Definitely scheduling. What we have going on is more of a marriage than anything. It goes beyond us performing. We have an LLC together, we live in the same complex, all of our business is intertwined. Maybe the way Blimes does shit ain’t how I do shit, but we’re in this. So, we have to figure it out. I think communication has been another thing. Being solo, you don’t have to talk to anyone about anything.
Blimes: Rooming with them, too. Gab stays up late and I’m a morning person. It was a lot of being aware of the other person. Sometimes we’ll get our own room (laughs).
What was your first show together?
Blimes: It was at The Echo. I was having a showcase for my record label Peach House, which is a record label I started to highlight female voices in the industry that didn’t feel like they had a home that wasn’t sexualizing them. It was art made by women…I told her, “Gab, you have to come down.” She came down to L.A. and we rocked our solo material. Gab had all her material, I had my own solo material, and all we had together was “Come Correct.” It was so much of what you get today because we made sure we sliced and diced the setlist, so it felt like a Blimes and Gab set.
Gab: Both of us are fans of each other helped with the cohesiveness. We did individual sets, but I knew all of Blimes songs and she knew all of my songs. So, it still looked like it was in a group aspect even though we were doing songs — we didn’t know each other. There’s still a togetherness. I’m not even asking her to hype me, but she’s doing it and vice versa.
What are your go-to songs at your live shows?
Gab: Obviously, “Come Correct” off top because there’s hella crowd participation. Everyone pretty much knows the words. That’s our bread and butter. “Feeling It” is another one. When we were on tour, we had a blowup couch, plants, lights and stuff like that. Then, we had these two big ass trash cans painted to look like solo cups and blowup basketballs. So, during “Feeling It,” we’d bring out the little plastic cups and would toss the ball in the crowd, and people from the crowd would try to throw the ball in the hoop. That was my favorite. Also, “No Samples.”
Blimes: I have to also throw in “Nasty” with that because we have fun.
Gab: You’re right.
Blimes: There’s a call and response portion in “Nasty” where we say, “When I say ‘too,’ y’all say ‘nasty.’ When I say ‘un,’ y’all say ‘classy.’ When I say ‘bun,’ y’all say asscheeks.’ We get the whole crowd to say “bun asscheeks” and then we go, “Y’all nasty! We too nasty (laughs).” We hem it up. We really chill with our fans. We go out after every show, we chill at the march table, we talk to people, we listen to their stories. I can’t tell you how much I miss that, Keith; that energy exchange. We’re making the music, dropping it on the internet, and there’s not an exchange of energy.
Before the pandemic, you live shows were so well thought out aesthetically and conceptually. How much work went into that?
Gab: Definitely have to give a shoutout to our guy Lucky. We first met him on the set of Queen Herby’s music video for “Mozart” and he was the creative director behind that. We kept in touch with him and became friends with him. We reached out to him for the “Auntie Up Tour” to do the whole stage setup and a little bit of choreography. He was a very important piece to that. The whole stage setup, skits, and everything brought the show together, and I don’t think that would’ve been possible without his direction.
Blimes: In terms of everything feeling though out, it’s not always on purpose, but the pieces fall together. Often times, it is on purpose, and Gab and I make sure we have the budget before we go on tour in order to put on a cohesive show. We’re both fans of comedy and in comedy, you see the recall coming up a lot with comedians. It’s where they’ll make a joke in the beginning of the set and bring it in three more times in the set because it’s hella funny. It’s sort of the same thing with branding. It’s the timing of when you bring a concept back to bring to your fans. Some magic has been instilled in Gifted Gab and I where, from the jump, things have just fallen into place for us organically and it tends to go that way. We’re really grateful.
I’m looking back at some of your shows and did y’all have a costume party performance at UC Berkley?
Gab: (Laughs) That was a Halloween-themed show, so everyone came in costume. Did we even dress up?
Blimes: Nah, we didn’t. We opened up for this band called [Swimmers] and they had a Pixar theme. They wanted all of their fans to dress up as Pixar characters and it was the week of Halloween.
Is that the same show where you met Erykah Badu?
Blimes: Nah, but that was the night before. We were at Berkley and the Hieroglyphics were playing with Erykah Badu and Moe Def for the 20-year anniversary for Black on Both Sides. Our boy Opio from the Hieroglyphics invited us to go to the show. He gave us backstage passes and we were on the stage watching Erykah perform. It was life-changing. She loved Gab’s hair. She said, “Who does your hair?”
Gab: I was like, “My home girl, Alexis” (laughs).
What is the most memorable show of your career?
Blimes: Today (October 19) is the one-year anniversary of our show with Dodgr at The Roseland in Portland and that was out of control fun. It was the most diverse crowd. There was a dance circle and people were dancing.
Gab: I can’t pinpoint one because they’re all memorable for different reasons.
Gab: Oh yeah, off top! Vegas was hella fun. It was for the Life Is Beautiful Festival afterparty with Red Bull.
Blimes: We curated it and brought out Method Man. Meth and I got to do “Hot Damn” live with Gifted Gab. With Meth being one of Gab’s favorite MCs of all time, I knew how special that moment was for all of us. I just loved watching her that whole night — her face around Meth (laughs)… I love watching the footage back because you can see that glimmer in her eyes of “I love you. I love you, Meth.” It’s beautiful.
What are some memorable fan interactions?
Blimes: I don’t think we ever told you about Chicago and Detroit, and the fans there. In Chicago, one of our fans brought us food from four different restaurants in a bag to go, so that we can try all of her favorite restaurants in Chicago before we left. She gave it for the whole crew. In Detroit, this girl named Jasmine cooked us homemade plates with her grandma and put it in to-go boxes for the whole team. They gave us chicken, mac and cheese, and collard greens with a beautiful letter saying, “Thank you so much for the music you make. We want to make sure you have a great memory here in Detroit and taken care of.” That’s a real connection I’ll remember forever.
I do remember seeing a video of Blimes rubbing a pregnant woman’s belly at a show. What was that interaction?
Blimes: That’s my girl. We have a one-year-old now. He was born two weeks [after that show]. We met when we were playing Soundset the summer before. She came to the show again and we fell in love. That night that you saw me rubbing her stomach was the night we connected and fell in love. We’re still together a year later and we’re raising a son together.