Published Nov 26, 2015Travis Scott has continuously referenced rodeos metaphorically for his music and his sex, drugs and rap lifestyle. It's a metaphor that also functions into the rambunctious nature of his live performances, which have been recently known to incite riots and toss political correctness out the window.
For the first of two shows scheduled at Toronto's Sound Academy on Wednesday evening (November 25), an eager young crowd were prepared to see if they could hold their own within the Houston native's weird and wild world of post-Yeezus trap. For the most part, they got what they came for, but it didn't come cleanly.
Stepping out in front of his desert-themed stage set, Scott's stallion-shaped chain glinted in the red light as he set the scene with Rodeo opener "Pornography." As expected, his energy was boundless, leaping around the stage while launching water bottles into the riotous crowd with abandon. Microphone issues struck Scott and his DJ only one song in, causing some dead space that Scott proceeded to fill by taunting the Sound Academy stage crew. "Y'all looking like some rookies right now," he jeered as they worked to fix the connections. "Can everyone in the audience give these guys the middle finger?" he asked aloud before leading a chant of "One, two, three, fuck you."
After urging the audience to "put the guns down and get creative" by dedicating "Pray for Love" to the number of violent events the world has seen these past few weeks, Scott looked to give the crowd what they wanted early on by lining up a string of his strongest bangers. As the undeniable "Don't Play" moved into "Quintana Pt. 2," Scott stopped the latter to call out a security guard who was handling fans a little rougher than he liked. After threatening to hop off the stage and handle it himself, Scott thought he would make the guard's job harder by winding up the crowd with the explosive hook of "Upper Echelon."
Unlike his previous stops in the provincial capital, Scott has now chosen to work with Auto-Tune live, using the effect on his vocal mic for almost the entire show. Of course, the goal in using it isn't to correct his vocal pitch so much as to make him sound nearly robotic, as if he took a page from the book of mentor Kanye West and tore it to pieces. The ubiquitous "yeeeeaaaaah" ad-lib aside, the keys that the software confined his voice to were noticeably dissonant in comparison to the studio backing tracks, making for some unpleasant contrasts in a handful of instances.
Scott's technology got the better of him twice. The first was when he tried to execute the opening "oohs" and "aahs" of "Skyfall" like a robotic cult leader; unrecognizable to most because he was out of key, the audience didn't know how to react to Scott's disjointed phonetics until the beat dropped. The second instance was during an a cappella outro to "Drugs You Should Try It," where Scott was so out of key that even his DJ couldn't hold back laughter. "We put that Auto-Tune on everything man," he exclaimed as Scott continued to warble. No kidding.
As engaged as the audience was for "Mamacita," "3500" and the gleefully vulgar "Piss on Your Grave," Scott's perpetually Auto-Tuned stage presence wore thin as the rodeo began to wind down. Closing with the incredibly catchy "Antidote" was undoubtedly a crowd-pleasing moment, as Scott pushed his robotic shouts to the highest of heights before leaving the stage without any thanks or hint of an encore.
On an evening where the rodeo could have perhaps used a boost from the likes of Abel, a charged-up Aubrey fresh off of Drake Night, or even close collaborator Justin from down in Stratford, Scott stood as a lone ranger through and through, for better or worse.