Published Mar 11, 2015Several hours before Travi$ Scott and Young Thug were scheduled to perform at the Danforth Music Hall, Toronto hip-hop fans were dealt some bad news — the latter was unable to cross the border due to immigration issues. While many were unsurprised, it was a disappointment for those hoping to see one of Atlanta's weirdest and most polarizing new rappers, who would have been making his Canadian debut.
Luckily, that didn't deter the all-ages audience completely, who lined up several blocks to get into the venue. Those who were able to get in early were treated to a largely paint-by-numbers but enjoyable DJ set from Atlanta-based producer Metro Boomin'. The architect behind some of the biggest hits of the past two years (Future, Gucci Mane, Nicki Minaj, 2 Chainz), he played hip-hop staples and a good percentage of Drake's latest release from an elevated booth next to a neon cowboy sign (designed by Kanye West's creative director, Virgil Abloh).
Bathed in ominous red lights, Travi$ Scott eventually emerged from the smoke wearing a jacket emblazoned with the Playboy logo, which would quickly be removed. The Houston rapper has been criticized in the past for making music that's more style than substance, druggy, Yeezus-influenced industrial trap that relies heavily on a who's who cast of contributors and producers (he's signed to West's G.O.O.D. Music). Live, however, he's Sid Vicious with a gold chain, windmilling, throwing water on the crowd and inciting crowd-surfing. The only time he paused was when he requested a mosh pit — which was happily obliged — and when he kicked off people watching from side-stage.
Running through a selection of songs from his 2013 mixtape Owl Pharaoh and last year's Days Before Rodeo (highlighted by "Mamacita" and "Skyfall"), the rapper padded out his set with his turns on G.O.O.D. Music compilation Cruel Summer posse track "Sin City" and Drake's "Company." Scott's connection to Toronto is well established, having also collaborated with OVO-affiliated PartyNextDoor and producer WondaGurl, and he brought out the Weeknd to perform the singer's "Often" and "Drinks On Us."
While the throngs of people pushing against the barricade might disagree, after an hour and a half (he was cut off by curfew), Scott's (albeit highly energetic) schtick began to wear slightly thin. Perhaps telling of his career to date, the biggest reaction came when his DJ played Kanye's latest single, the thunderous "All Day," which the rapper co-produced. He's got a promising career as a beat-maker, but if he hopes to move into the upper echelon (pun intended) of emcees, he's going to have to display more versatility on his next project.