Even with his big-budget theatrics, the new-generation rap star maintains his high-octane club energy as he's graduated to arenas.
For the first half-hour, this ride’s in overdrive. From the second Travis Scott catapulted onto the stage, the traveling amusement park that is the hip-hop star’s Astroworld tour was swerving through an unusually amped version of Scott’s Auto-Tuned space odyssey “Stargazing.” Then the rapper literally strapped into a circular upside-down ride while sing-rapping his verses on “Lose.”
Apocalyptically rumbling bass lines immediately popped the growing tension in the Tacoma Dome that swelled like a carnival balloon as fans waited nearly two hours for their mosh-rap king to take the stage Tuesday night. Before Scott became one-half of Instagram’s most famous couple (with Kylie Jenner) and Super Bowl half-time show performer, he was igniting clubs with headbanging aggression. That hasn’t changed as he’s climbed to arenas as one of the new generation of hip-hop superstars, his seat secured with last year’s blockbuster “Astroworld” album — named after a defunct theme park near his native Houston — and subsequent exhilarating tour.
Annoying as the extended wait was, it worked in Scott’s favor as the anxiousness made the throbbing sea of fans between the two stages on the floor that much more combustible. Despite losing the momentum long after even rowdier opener Sheck Wes — whose “Mo Bamba” smash made him one of hip-hop’s most intriguing new meteors — left the stage, it didn’t take the fireworks during “No Bystanders” or his Cobain shrieking in “Don’t Play” to cue the mosh pits. It’s a vibe Scott continues to nurture, and at one point Scott cut off an extra-hyped romp through “Houstonification” to stop security from hauling away a fan — seemingly for crowdsurfing.
“Get him back. We don’t do a fan like that,” he instructed, before finishing the song in Auto-Tune a cappella from the front row, sharing his mic with another fan. It wasn’t the only thing he’d share with his faithful “ragers” last night, as Scott pulled several fans on stage to ride his mini roller coaster above the crowd.
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For all the adrenaline, Scott’s still capable of cooling things down, digitally crooning like hip-hop’s lovesick Sinatra who might stage dive out of his cufflinks a minute later during “Drugs You Should Try It.” The oldie from his “Days Before Rodeo” mixtape kicked off a run of android slow jams, including his psych-rap collaboration with Tame Impala, “Skeletons.” Even in these lighter moments, the ever-growling bass gave his mosh-happy fans something to latch on to.
While Scott’s hardly the first or last artist to weaponize Godzilla bass lines as a crowd-riler, the low-end-heavy mix often didn’t do the progressive trap star’s shape-shifting tracks justice. There’s something invigorating about outsized bass physically shaking your core, and it undoubtedly heightened the intensity throughout his nearly 90-minute set. But at the risk of sounding like a crank with a manicured lawn to protect, the rattling mix often bowled over some of the elements that make Scott’s productions some of the most dynamic in mainstream hip-hop.
Still, it mattered not when Scott threw his anticipated end-of-night haymaker — his Drake-assisted megahit “Sicko Mode” — which managed to whip the crowd up even more than when Drake performed it in the same arena a few months ago.
With the fan-centric appeal of a pop star (punctuality notwithstanding), it’s easy to see why Scott’s grown from cult favorite club instigator to bona fide arena star in relatively short time. And he’s still bringing people along for the ride.