Thursday, September 28

Travis Scott review – fireworks and lasers announce rapper’s post-Astroworld comeback | Music

TRavis Scott is known for his boundless energy in live performances, and the pure chaos he invokes in his crowds – there’s a reason his fans are known as the “ragers”. This is the Houston rapper’s first big headline performance since 2021’s Astroworld festival – an event founded by Scott – where a fatal crowd crush resulted in the accidental deaths of 10 people and hundreds of injuries. It’s clear the incident affected him. During a supporting slot for Meek Mill in New York earlier this year, Scott stopped mid-show when an audience member climbed up on the lighting rig. It was a striking moment, because even a year ago, he might not have called out this kind of behaviour.

Sometimes known as La Flame, the rapper is very excited tonight: he shouts out his daughter, Stormy, and runs around the stage, limbs flailing in zigzags, every now and again flopping his body down with his arms grazing the ground, like a tired robot (an image enhanced by his aesthetic choices: he wears a futuristic pair of white goggles with tiny slits). He comes down into the crowd, and even throws his jacket into the audience; by the end of the set, he is of course shirtless.

Scott’s enthusiasm is occasionally detrimental to his vocal delivery: he sounds hoarse as he screams the increasingly unclear lines, and mumbles through his rendition of his and SZA’s glorious 2017 collaboration Love Galore. Perhaps this doesn’t matter, given the extent to which the crowd are singing it all back to him anyway.

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The set list takes us back and forth through Scott’s career. He hits the stage with Hold That Heat, his recent collaboration with Future and Southside, before bringing in beautiful swirling party tracks from his 2018 album Astroworld. He even plays God’s Country, a mesmerizing collaboration with Ye that didn’t make it on to West’s album Donda (and which Scott implies will be on his own forthcoming project, Utopia).

Sometimes, it all feels a bit rushed, and if the show is supposed to set us up for that forthcoming release, there is not much in the way of new material. But perhaps that’s irrelevant – the crowd go wild at the opening bars for every song, and by the time he gets to his beat-switching masterpiece, Sicko Mode, Scott keeps muttering “oh my goodness” into the mic as he surveys the audience.

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Evidently, the ragers have been waiting for this. Though they move up and down like waves, phones glowing in a way that adds to the futuristic stagecraft, things never seem out of control – and while Scott understandably avoids going into disarray like he used to, he does feel a little distant. A lit-up platform carries him into the air like a spaceship, beaming him up in a vortex of white light. There are near-constant pyrotechnics, dancing lasers and plumes of smoke, all adding to the opulent optics.

It is a stunning show aesthetically, but it’s not entirely matched by Scott’s performance tonight: alone on stage, he is almost overshadowed by the scenery. Yes, he brings that impressive energy he is known for, but this feels like a show where he is refamiliarising himself with this size of crowd, soaking up the feeling rather than delivering the flawless, abundant shows people have come to expect from him. Ahead of his second night at the O2, it’s telling when he says, “Tomorrow night, we go harder.”

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