A$AP Rocky / Tyler, The Creator / Danny Brown / Vince Staples Echo Beach, Toronto ON, September 25
Published Sep 26, 2015Giddy as all get-out, the four girls linked hands so they wouldn't lose each other as they wormed their way through a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd toward the stage, all excuse-mes and perfume. They never quite managed to reach the front when the cool night's headliner and his Mob of friends stormed through the theatre smoke in snug jeans and launched into "Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2."
One of the young women, her necklace gleaming the same platinum as A$AP Rocky's smile, tugged on a stranger's arm. "I see him!" she gushed, shaking slightly. "I can't believe he's right there."
Yes, A$AP's ascent to heartthrob and bona fide Grade A rap star is complete — though, at 26, there's no reason to believe the brash, fashionable, genre-blurring MC can't soar higher.
After honing his chops on the undercard of grand-scale tours by mega artists Rihanna and Drake, Harlem's Rakim Myers is now the main attraction, topping a bill that includes four disparate and dynamic male rap soloists.
"This is all about the creative artists," Rocky asserted. "I'm a fan of everybody on this bill."
Tightly organized and blasted through an incredibly sharp system (kudos to the sound guy!), the evening had a mini-festival feel. Openers Vince Staples (the 22-year-old lyrical menace from Long Beach) and Danny Brown (the 34-year-old molly-munching character from Detroit) slaughtered their 20-minute appearances with efficiency: no props, no hypemen, no banners, just personality and cagey beat selection.
Wildcard Tyler, The Creator's voice and flow are probably the least polished of the bunch, but that's kinda the point. His wardrobe rainbow and his energy manic, the Golf Wang honcho was at his best on aggressive tracks like "Death Camp" and "Yonkers," while the momentum dipped during "IFHY." To be fair, the dude had already performed in Toronto five days prior, at Riotfest. But this was more of an A$AP crowd.
What Rocky's 60-minute show lacked — musical accompaniment beyond a DJ; a sampling of catalogue bangers "Peso," "Fashion Killa," "Fuckin' Problems"; an appearance by A$AP Ferg or singer Joe Fox — it made up for in energy and execution of the best tracks from his new record. Heavy on At. Long. Last. A$AP, Rocky and three of his Mob associates used all three tiers of his set while running through "Electric Body," "Canal St.," "Holy Ghost" and "M'$." The guys encouraged an all-in crowd to party as the DJ spun House of Pain's "Jump Around" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Some fans bragged about scoring rum-and-Cokes with their fake I.D., others lit cigarettes and joints, some asked "What's your major?" It was Friday night, a full moon, sand underfoot, and Frosh Week wouldn't die.
So when 11 p.m. arrived, signalling the city's curfew for outdoor shows, Rocky — perhaps risking a fine — gave his devotees one more song, as promised.
"Wild for the Night."