Much like modern radio itself, Sunday night’s Hot 96.3 Santa Slam had its highs and its lows.

An annual showcase put together by the much-loved Indianapolis radio station, the marathon event was headlined by the juggernaut trio of Migos, and also featured performances from artists such as Bazzi, BlocBoy JB, Bryce Vine, Jenn Morel, Lil Duval, and more.

With so many performers to fit in, Santa Slam 2018 turned out to be a five-hour affair, running from 7 p.m. to midnight. In this time span, the Indiana Farmers Coliseum audience was presented with a Smörgåsbord of hip-hop and R&B sounds, with some moving the room more than others.

Much like the Alt 103 Xmas show, Santa Slam’s overall flow was rather strange, as the lineup almost seemed as if it had been put on shuffle. While each act did cater to a portion of the crowd, there were none other than Migos that appealed to a majority. This lack of flow lent to some awkward moments, with the most blatant one coming as the show transitioned from the pop-centric sounds of singer-songwriter Bazzi to the gut-punching Atlanta rap sounds of Migos.

Although the concert had its cringeable moments, Santa Slam did feature memorable performances from both BlocBoy JB and Migos. A 22-year-old emcee hailing from Memphis, BlocBoy JB made a statement with his thumping 2018 song “Look Alive” featuring Drake. Backed by a whole posse, JB gave the Santa Slam crowd a short-but-sweet performance that had the coliseum setting feeling like a house party.

After a few words from Pacers star Victor Oladipo, Takeoff, Quavo, and Offset took the stage, quickly jumping into their flurry of hits. Managed by Indianapolis native and hip-hop overlord Kevin “Coach K” Lee, Migos treated devoted fans to some older cuts, including “Fight Night” (from 2014’s No Label II) and “Pipe It Up” (from 2015’s Yung Rich Nation).

Of course, the powerhouse trio also made sure to roll out all the bangers, including selections from both Culture and Culture II. As Migos rampaged through songs like “Bad and Boujee,” “I Get The Bag,” “Narcos,” and “T-Shirt,” the crowd stuck with them word for word, emphatically reciting each track as they bounced up and down.

After performing for about an hour, Migos sent the crowd home with a delicious rendition of “Stir Fry.” Despite skipping out on a few crowd favorites, the trio’s performance left most headed home satisfied, including myself. On a cold Sunday night in Naptown, an hour-long dosing of hot Atlanta rap was just what the doctor ordered, even though it had to come later than desired.

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Seth Johnson, Music Editor at NUVO, can be reached by email at, by phone at 317-254-2400 or on Twitter @sethvthem


Music Editor

An Indianapolis native, I regularly write about music and the arts for NUVO. Other obsessions include the Pacers and my cat Lou.