Roller coasters, a Ferris Wheel, and flashy visuals: the "Astroworld" tour is more than what you bargained for.
If you've never been to a Travis Scott concert, you're seriously missing out. I'm not just saying that either; I've seen him perform live a handful of times and each instance, I've noticed his evolution from a timid up-and-comer to a full-blown rager. Astroworld marks a career-defining moment for Travis Scott as he's officially proven himself to his doubters. He's welcome at the top alongside names like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Drake, and others. His potential was clear on Days Before Rodeo and Owl Pharaoh but it was never certain that he would ever get to this point. Now, he's building literal amusement parks for his stage shows.
The first time I witnessed Travis perform live, he had just released Days Before Rodeo. At that point, he was already buzzing hard. I was excited to hear songs like "Drugs You Should Try It," "Mamacita," and others live. I didn't expect much but I was floored by the seemingly unlimited talent this man possessed. Luckily, he ended up bringing back some of the classics for his day-one fans at his recent tour stop in Toronto.
I finally make my way into the show after getting held up at the box office, and right away, I notice that the trussing on the ceiling resembles a roller coaster track. I'm observing my surroundings: there are two stages. A larger one where Gunna's set-up is being installed and a smaller one across the arena. Most people are standing at the bigger stage but I have a feeling they'll soon be running over to the more minor installation.
I saw videos prior to my arrival of Travis taking a ride on a Ferris Wheel while performing "Carousel" but the mechanism is nowhere to be found. I locate my seat and ask if Sheck Wes had already gone on stage. Unfortunately, I just missed out and will likely not hear "Mo Bamba" live for a while.
The floor isn't full yet but then again, there are line-ups around the entire building. People are buying merch, beer, or smoking a blunt before heading inside. There is no DJ in between sets as the stage is being set up for Gunna. Instead, La Flame opts for ambient sounds to be blasted on the sound system. He's taking a page out of Kanye West's book, who used a similar strategy while touring The Life of Pablo.
After opener Sheck Wes, Gunna makes his way onto the stage. He's got Slime Season 3 visuals on his screen and he's rocking a winter coat. We are in Canada, after all. Immediately, the crowd is into him - the Atlanta artist is one of the quickest rising talents in the industry and he's already got some major singles to his name. Unlike the majority of his contemporaries, Gunna is not just rapping over a prominent backing track. He's making an effort to show off his skills as a performer.
He shouts out the women in the crowd before asking if any of them want a "Chanel" bag. Seamless transition. He makes his way into the newly-released "Space Cadet," which ends up being one of the most exciting parts of his set. The crowd is moshing at this point, clearly getting hyped up for the main event. He rolls into a medley of "Sold Out Dates," "Drip Too Hard," and "Oh Okay," which would have been an appropriate end to his set-- only it’s not. With all of Gunna’s most recognizable tracks now out of the way, the audience is quick to lose interest.
The crowd is now expecting Trippie Redd, who is advertised as the final opener. The Ferris Wheel’s installation on the stage is a clear sign that this is no longer the case. After a short chunk of time passes, a vintage advertisement for the defunct Astroworld theme park shows on the jumbotron and the crowd freaks out.
As anticipated, Travis Scott heads out on the smaller stage across the arena and people go wild on the floor. The Toronto crowd rushes to be in the front of whatever will go down. "Stargazing" blares over the loudspeaker. He orders his concertgoers to split a line down the middle, making way for an intense mosh pit. This is going to get rowdy.
The Frank Ocean-featuring "Carousel" comes on and Cactus Jack is literally getting strapped up to the Ferris Wheel. He takes a spin around and keeps singing the entire time. The man was upside down screaming into his microphone. This is true dedication to the vision.
Once he makes his way off the Ferris Wheel, he tells DJ Chase B that he wants to bring it back to a few years ago when he performed at The Hoxton, a few streets away from the arena he's currently in. He ends up playing "Way Back" from Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight. Not a bad segway.
We're four songs in and you can tell the energy will not vanish anytime soon. This isn't like any other concert I've ever been to. Everybody is engaged, raging to their hearts' content. People are singing every word. Somebody in the section next to mine has tears in her eyes.
Travis proceeds into a medley of Days Before Rodeo songs. This may be called the Astroworld tour but so far, he's really just celebrating his career-long success. Once he finishes "Mamacita," he drops down into oblivion, disappearing underneath the small stage. An AI robot calls for the performer to return on the big screen and he suddenly appears, singing "Butterfly Effect."
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After shortened versions of "No Bystanders," "Don't Play," and "3500," La Flame starts to direct everyone in the crowd to put both their arms up. After a while, he's actually singling out individuals in the crowd. "You there, yeah you... Why don't you got your hands up," the Houston native asks. The reluctant fan ends up participating before Travis "put on for the day ones" again, singing "Skyfall." The crowd breaks out into a Travis chant, and you can tell he's proud as hell. He's got a big smile on his face before getting emotional, saying he was going through some tough shit when he wrote "Drugs You Should Try It."
I gaze over at Chase B and it looks like he's DJing inside of a spaceship. During "R.I.P. Screw," a circular curtain comes down with flashy visuals inspired by the album: rollercoaster imagery, skulls, and a sign saying "Wish You Were Here." At one point, the Houston skyline is shown as "Houstonfornication" and "Stop Trying To Be God" are played.
The Astroworld stage received a few guest appearances for the night: Toronto native Nav, Don Toliver, and Gunna. The folks around me were convinced Drake would show up but much to their dismay, he did not.
Travis ends the night with "Sicko Mode," naturally, and sets off a major display of fireworks before his final departure.
With pyrotechnics going off all over the place, an operating Ferris Wheel and more, the Astroworld tour is a singularly unique concert experience. It's a concert, but it feels more like a festival. Or, even more apt, it feels like an amusement park. The rapper truly brought his album concept to life.