Nicki Minaj takes Philly by storm: Inside the epic Gag City Tour concert experience

"When Minaj began her first verse the audience's lights flashed throughout the stadium as we admired her look rocking bright pink hair and a silver corset." - Staff Writer / Maryela Gallardo

Queen Nicki Minaj touched down in Philadelphia to perform a sold-out show for her Gag City Tour at The Wells Fargo Center arena on March 29. Bringing Barbz a set list featuring songs from her early mixtapes to her latest “Pink Friday 2” album, concertgoers listened to Minaj’s catalog of hits from throughout her entire career. 

The sign for the arena was lit up pink in the spirit of Minaj’s performance, while attendees who first walked in were greeted by multiple photo props including pink balloons and cardboard cutouts of a Barbie dream house. Concession stand food lines and photo prop lines grew as attendees waited for DJ Boof, the opening act for Minaj. The ticket show time read 8 p.m., while the starting time fell off schedule, with DJ Boof coming out slightly past 9 p.m. 

While Barbz sat eagerly awaiting the show, they started eating various snack bar foods from pretzels to chicken tenders, concertgoers struck poses in front of the arena capturing all moments from the show. One of my favorite memories from the concert was before DJ Boof came out when my friend Greta and I were snapping photos of each other. Another group in our section came over to us and used the flashlight on their phone to help us get the best lighting. 

DJ Boof hyped up the crowd by playing Minaj’s songs from her early mixtape “Beam Me Up Scotty” and her 2014 album “The Pinkprint.” My favorite Minaj songs featured in his set were “Only” and “Kill da DJ.” He played other artists including Lil Uzi Vert who I hoped would come out and join Minaj on stage. I enjoyed how active DJ Boof was with the crowd as he engaged with us by starting a battle of which part of the arena was the loudest. He kicked off a classic crowd wave. 

Everyone who was in the audience had the best energy, the vibe in our box was so upbeat and happy while giving each other nonstop compliments. Even when taking a quick bathroom break, all the Barbz would jump in mirror selfies together and we made bonds so quickly. The atmosphere truly was so loving and accepting as all of us came together to pack the arena and scream at the top of our lungs to Minaj’s live tracks. 

Before hitting the stage, she was lifted onto the platform through an underground box that she continued to reappear from throughout the show. The first track to begin the concert was “I’m the Best” from her 2010 “Pink Friday” album. When Minaj began her first verse the audience’s lights flashed throughout the stadium as we admired her look rocking bright pink hair and a silver corset. Minaj truly is even more stunning in person and I loved her sparkly body shimmer that hit the light perfectly while she rapped on stage. 

Minaj transitioned into her next track “Barbie Dangerous” where she performed a quick change wearing a pink rhinestone halter bodysuit and matching blinged-out-knee high boots. I believe this was one of her best looks and top performances. Fire burst from the stage throughout the song, while her backup dancers brought such high energy and got the crowd dancing. I loved her backup dancers’ space cadet-themed costumes where the female dancers dressed in sunglasses and silver bodysuits and her male backup dancers rocked metallic silver pants. 

The next songs continued to include her most recent tracks and I was beyond excited to hear them live. The set list was followed by “FTCU” and “Beep Beep” which my section turned up for. All the girls in my row danced together and my friend Greta and I made a dancing partner with the girl next to us. Minaj played pieces to a lot of the songs she rapped such as: “Big Difference” and “We Go Up.” I do wish she was able to have performed the full songs, though I understand she may have had to cut down song lengths to meet her concert time limit. 

When she sang “Cowgirl,” a girl wearing a pink sparkly cowgirl hat handed it to Minaj to wear. The hat matched her bodysuit flawlessly and I loved how she made sure to be intimate with her audience. She threw out t-shirts and incorporated her inspirational speeches throughout the set. 

“Pink Birthday” was the next song to follow while Minaj brought her “Super Freaky Girl” persona to life. As one of my most played songs from her new album, I was so excited to hear it live. Her black mesh bodysuit with silver hands wrapped around her chest complimented her so well. I loved the smoke that blew throughout the song and the crowd went wild for Minaj’s dancing. 

Minaj brought the crowd together to bask in old memories while listening to her throwbacks live including songs such as: “Feeling Myself” and “High School.” Since I was in middle school I remember trying to rap Minaj’s verse in “Feeling Myself” and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to not try again at the show. I appreciated that the set list brought a mix of her latest hits and classic mixtape songs for all lovers of her music to enjoy. 

While the concert featured lots of costume changes with over seven different looks on Minaj, there was also a long pause between her sets as we waited nearly ten minutes for her to come back on stage through transitions. After we waited sitting in our seats, we all jumped up to see The Gag City crew come on stage. Minaj was placed in boxes that featured the song title she would perform as the crew moved her to the middle of the platform. 

Bringing her Barbie girl persona to light, Minaj graced the stage to perform “Barbie World” wearing a hot pink business skirt suit and rhinestone boots. She fully played into her character marching around the stage in a doll-like fashion while her backup dancers kept their movements sharp and brought the performance to life. I found this to be my favorite performance. 

Bursting apart from her Barbie image, Minaj’s alter ego Roman came out to perform “Roman’s Revenge” and “Monster.” My section immediately started screaming when Minaj ripped off her pink suit and brought Roman out. Minaj was placed in three open boxes that spun around while she rapped in black latex shorts and a tank top. She exited the stage from an underground box as her special guests ran on stage. 

Many special guests have been featured in the Gag City Tour and I was excited to see Monica perform for my show. However, she didn’t sing her classic hit with Brandy “The Boy Is Mine” which I anticipated hearing. Many of the other performers who came on stage I was not familiar with, however, I enjoyed being able to listen to new music live. I do wish that the special guests set times were cut shorter as I felt that we didn’t get enough of Minaj, with at least 30 minutes of the concert filled with other performers. 

Minaj came out for her last set in a bedazzled pink rhinestone head scarf, white corset, and matching jeans. She performed classic songs such as “Super Bass” and “Starships.” I loved her last performance, though I was disappointed that the song from the setlist “Pink Friday Girls” was cut from my show. While the concert followed with her last songs, Minaj reminded us that “The Night Is Still Young.” 

The new bit of Minaj most notoriously seen on TikTok with her letting the audience grab the mic and sing “The Night Is Still Young” was one of the funniest parts of the show. I sadly did not have the chance to sing, though I know my vocals would have made her ask me to give her the mic back. 

My friend Greta and I for the entire concert desperately awaited the final song “Everybody.” We manifested for days and continued at the concert to speak into existence that Lil Uzi Vert would come out. Sadly, Uzi truly missed the opportunity of not showing up to his hometown and performing the No. 1 Billboard Rap Airplay hit. Minaj still brought high energy to the song and kissed the crowd goodbye, spinning down into the box through the stage underground. 

Experiencing a Nicki Minaj concert is a memory for a lifetime, and I am glad I was able to live out my inner childhood by hearing a range of her songs from her discography. The passion she has for her fans is truly unmatched and inspiring. I find it a blessing I had the opportunity to see her live. I encourage all Barbz to find a way to secure a Gag City tour ticket. 

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