Travis Scott / Gunna Scotiabank Arena, Toronto ON, November 21
Published Nov 22, 2018As Travis Scott rages on through the flames, smoke and Roman candles, the seizure-inducing lights and all that rib-rattling bass, you find yourself wondering: Can he really keep this energy up for the whole thing?
The answer is a resounding yes, yes, he can.
Wearing an Astroworld staff tee that he frequently doffs to flex his seven-minute abs, your host for this deafening psychedelic bizarro amusement park–slash–rap concert on fleek possesses enough vitality to not only maintain a silly-high bar of excitement for the full 100-minute spectacle, but actually raise it for the climax.
Lit, as the kids say, just found a higher plane.
Few could pull off what the 26-year-old Scott does with the mind-boggling sensory assault that is his "Astroworld Tour: Wish You Were Here" travelling carnival, complete with Sno Cone machines, rollercoasters and fireworks, both literal and metaphorical.
In a live setting, rap music has long been considered a genre best suited to outdoor park jams and dingy, claustrophobic clubs that stuff bass through your chest cavity.
What the charismatic, spasmodic Scott has accomplished with his latest, greatest tour in support of his third LP — the star-studded, platinum-certified Astroworld — redefines stadium status, with enough props and magic and joy to make a 19,000-seat hockey arena almost feel too small to contain the chaos.
Of Astroworld, named after a SixFlags theme park demolished to clear space for apartment buildings in his native Houston, Scott told GQ: "That's what it's going to sound like, like taking an amusement park away from the kids. We want it back. We want the building back. That's why I'm doing it. It took the fun out of the city."
Scott has not only ushered fun back, he's handed out fast passes to everyone.
Employing trap doors to switch between two large stages at either end of the floor, Scott — a frenzied ball of tattoos, braids and at least five pieces of diamond-encrusted jewellery — attracts the general-admission swarm like a moshing, frothing magnet as he throws his all into bangers current ("Stargazing," "No Bystanders") and classic-ish ("Antidote," "Goosebumps").
On multiple occasions, a fan scrambles to one of the lofty stages to run and dive off, caught by the mob's lofted arms. One guy on the mob pumps a set of crutches high into the air. Crowd-surfing is common. No one dares sit.
Dressed in big-pocket, army-green cargo pants, fresh untied Nikes and a toque, Scott ringmasters his circus solo through an Auto-Tuned microphone, his DJ, Chase B, stuffed in the dark. When Scott asks for cellphone lights on for "Skeletons" — "One of my favourite songs," he says — the barn glows to reveal a large portion of the 20- and 30-somethings have happily shelled out $60 for a T-shirt. There are also a ton more women in attendance than your average rap show. The beats help.
When he asks for everyone to throw two hands in the air, he signals out specific concertgoers — "You in the brown shirt!" — to ensure he has full participation.
The phenomenon begins to peak when Scott invites a lucky fan to ride with him on an actual ceiling-hung roller coaster that glows and dips as he raps the excellent Goodie Mob–sampling "5% Tints." Local artist NAV makes a brief surprise cameo for "Beibs in the Trap," and trendy opener Gunna returns for "Yosemite."
As the ginormous golden Scott head from the Astroworld cover art inflated at the east end of the arena, Mr. Scott's wild ride climaxed on the west stage with a vigorous rendition of "Sicko Mode," a rainbow of Roman candles firing up from the floor and a shower of hot-white fireworks raining down.
Out like a light.