Travis Scott and Sheck Wes at Rogers Arena, 1/25/19
As the meme goes, every college-age male must make a choice. “Sicko Mode” or “Mo Bamba?” Which do you play when handed the AUX cord? At Travis Scott’s Rogers Arena show Friday night, fans didn’t have to choose.
The Houston rap megastar’s latest project Astroworld is dedicated to a since-closed childhood favourite amusement park, and you could tell how much he wanted to let fans understand the love he had for it.
Outside the arena, you were already there – there were circus performers walking around, colourful signs welcoming us to Astroworld, and the giant, golden inflatable Travis Scott head from the album cover right in the middle for fans to walk through.
Sheck Wes, a signee to Scott’s Cactus Jack label, took the stage first. Scott’s shows are known for their aggressive mosh pits, and the guttural, aggressive Wes was the perfect artist to get them started early.
As “Mo Bamba” finally dropped, Wes ran full speed to the very edge of the stage and threw his arms up, inciting a frenzy. Hearing thousands of people singing along to the chilling, menacing melody of the track was earth-shattering.
Closing with the equally powerful “Live Sheck Wes,” he exited the stage and shouted “Follow your dreams!”
An old Astroworld ad fired up on the huge projection screen behind the main stage. The video was a misdirection, as a blue laser blast suddenly materialized Scott on a smaller stage, opening with “Stargazing.”
“Open it up,” Scott growled into the mic before the song’s beat switch, gesturing at the floor – the mosh was now on for real. The pyrotechnics and gyrating mass of excitement set the tone early.
Dropping into “Carousel,” Scott strapped himself into an amusement park ride, performing portions of the song upside down. After one rotation, he got off and security allowed multiple fans to ride throughout the entire show.
Scott is known as one of the best live performers in hip-hop for a reason, and his production value and visuals throughout were pretty incredible.
Whether it was the projected old arcade games fitting the immersive Astroworld experience for “Quintana,” the image of a huge butterfly on a skyscraper for the psychedelic “Butterfly Effect,” or the actual fireworks that exploded during the chaotic chorus of “No Bystanders,” there was always a surprise in store.
Scott easily matched Wes in sheer, raw energy, putting his full body into every word and headbanging like a rockstar. Even in the slower songs like “Drugs You Should Try It” and “90210,” you could see his feet itching to move, lifting off the ground ever so slightly like he couldn’t stand still if he tried.
In an interesting move, huge projection screens came down on either side of the stage. “I wanna take you to a place where I grew up,” Scott said, as the graphics started up. Scott was slightly obscured behind the screens, as if he really wanted fans to focus on being transported to his hometown.
Amusement park sights flashed through “R.I.P. Screw,” then the Houston skyline during “Houstonfornication” and nature shots for “Stop Trying to Be God.”
Scott saved his biggest production tricks for last, an enormous inflatable astronaut rising from the ground as a rollercoaster track descended during “Yosemite.”
He closed the show with some of his biggest hits, riding the coaster himself for “Can’t Say” before fans once more got on the ride during the electric “Antidote.”
The one-two punch of “Goosebumps,” and finally, “Sicko Mode,” capped off an incredible show that ended in a fireworks display.
It was the perfect ending to a fun day at the park.