11 months on since his gargantuan third studio album was released and coming off the back of the biggest year in his music career to date, Travis Scott finally brought Astroworld to London. After his two leg American tour made headlines, anticipation had been super high for the Houston bred artist to bring the rage and heighten his reputation as one of the biggest rockstars in hip hop today.
With a spiritual showing as the headliner of the Saturday leg of Wireless 2019, Travis gave us an insight into what we could expect 11 days later. Announced just before the show began, he would be supported by his right hand Chase B as well as Black Butter artist Octavian. With his aforementioned American tour in mind, could La Flame live up to his lofty reputation?
When I first arrived at The O2, there were a number of heavy queues that engulfed the landscape of the south east London venue. This was a given when you consider the high profile of Travis today when compared to his breakout year in 2013. I was even more surprised to see that the queues for Travis Scott merchandise were longer than the ticket queues! As a result of this and the ticket vendor not finding my pair (it happens) I couldn’t beat the rush and catch Octavian’s opening set.
I noticed the huge number of concert goers wearing Astroworld merchandise – the technicoloured, tie-dye tees caught my eye immediately as I anticipated a set full of psychedelic vibes, moshing on a large scale and a crazy stage set up. Expectedly the one-off show completely sold out and the vibe inside smacked of a mellow restlessness as the crowed and I looked to what would follow. It was approaching 21:30 and the suspense continued to grow; it felt like waiting for SAW at Thorpe Park without a Fast Track ticket. It didn’t help that someone in the building left ominous background music playing on the massive sound system.
Just as the popcorn vendors were pacing up and down the stairs, pandemonium hit as Travis Scott’s tour DJ Chase B announced himself to The O2. The crowd, screaming as wildly as ever, were waiting for La Flame to bless the stage as the intro for ‘STARGAZING’ began to play. “Rolling, rolling, rolling got me stargazing” he screeched from the back of the room, almost laying down a call to arms as the standing contingent ran towards the small podium behind them.
The lightshow began as strong beams of blue, red and green swirled around the room, with the main stage set up resembling a twisted carousel. Hands filled the air, swinging and waving in frenzied sync while La Flame bounced around the platform, his auto tune laced screams mirroring the mayhem in the standing section. Moshpits formed thick and fast while Travis played crowd controller – one would think he would be in the thick of the raging had he not been the main act. ‘CAROUSEL’ followed before the rollercoaster took a turn, renditions of ‘4 AM’, ‘Way Back’, ‘First Off’ and ‘Mamacita’ were well received by the crowd before he hopped off the podium and ran into a dark abyss.
He soon emerged on the main stage and remarked how turnt the London crowd was as he hopped on one of the platforms on stage. Astroworld’s lead single ‘BUTTERFLY EFFECT’ was loading as the platform Travis was planted on rose to the sky, while wearing a mischievous grin. When the beat dropped, the venue erupted and random items of clothing and drinks flew into the crowd. I noticed a pint cup hit a girl square on her head – she shrugged it off with a smile as if to say “anything could happen at the night show”.
‘NO BYSTANDERS’ followed (who could ever forget that Sheck Wes chorus) before he saluted all the intoxicated folk in the room – myself included – which helped the build up to playing an unreleased cut previously performed at Rolling Loud Miami. Known as “Ideas” or “Highest in the Room” the snippet that had been floating on SoundCloud was brought to life by a clearly animated Travis, who had started stripping down as he felt the heat from taking the crowd on the ride of our lives. ‘Upper Echelon’ soon followed in what was a throwback moment for day one fans of La Flame, at this point the pyrotechnics got going and brought a new meaning to “it’s lit!”
In an attempt to cool the room he performed the first part of ‘90210’, a clear standout from his 2015 debut album ‘Rodeo’. Travis has mastered contorting his voice with auto tune, using his voice as if it were an instrument itself, referring to himself in third person until an orgasmic beat switch occurred… “I need, I need; I need, I need; I need, I need” the sounds of Carter Lang and ThankGod4Cody culminated in the ever familiar ‘Love Galore’ swooning through the speakers.
Travis stood earnestly as he got into arguably one of his best guest verses ever, the crowd sang alongside him – as if we really needed prompting! Hearing the crowd sing The Weeknd’s chorus on ‘WAKE UP’ sent chills around the room. I’ve seen Travis live a few times before, but watching 20,000 people sing his song live made me realise that little Jacques from Houston is a certified superstar. In regards to this current generation of hip hop, who has the reach to sell out London’s O2 arena? Kendrick Lamar, Aubrey Graham (more than a few times), J. Cole, Future and now Travis have proven that they have the reach to claim pop-stardom.
The agents of chaos combined to make the crowd go crazy
He even brought a slice of his hometown to London. The eerie, chopped and slopped ‘R.I.P. SCREW’ is a blatant homage to the chopped and screwed pioneer, a marriage of synthesised euphoria and hypnotic thump. ‘HOUSTONFORNICATION’ followed and is a symbol of his journey back to his hometown.
Of all the feature covers that Travis performed on the night, there was one I never anticipated seeing at all, even if the 28 year old were in the United Kingdom. A regular, ginger fellow donning Astroworld merch and a pair of Travis Scott Jordan 1’s appeared on stage and the London crowd erupted. I blinked and Ed Sheeran was on stage! The duo fittingly linked up for a rousing performance of ‘Antisocial’ off of Ed’s latest project ‘Collaborations No. 6’. If that cameo was well received, then words might fail me for who followed immediately after. “I GOT HOOOOOES!” boomed and Sheck Wes, in a tracksuit that engulfed his languid frame, graced the stage like a gazelle that discovered Red Bull. The agents of chaos combined to make the crowd go crazy. This was the part of the rollercoaster where you knew you were fearing the worst but living the adrenaline rush at the same time.
Upon the quickfire announcement of his Astroworld tour in our capital, there was no doubt in my mind that he would exceed what he brought to O2 Academy Brixton just over two years prior to taking the stage on Tuesday night. But even in the heat, surrounded by the deafening cheers and screams of his raging crowd, he was the chief architect of this exhilarating joyride in his beloved domain. The stage production brought elements of his album cover to life; while he commanded proceedings with a rebellious exuberance that Cirque du Soleil could never see. Even towards the end of this thrilling ride, Travis could drop a ‘triple double’ and remind us that he has numerous hits. In his final play he gave the crowd the ‘Antidote’ for the ‘goosebumps’ and then slam dunked us off the back of Drake’s alley oop in ‘SICKO MODE’.
A satisfying end to an amazing tour experience. ‘Wish You Were Here’ was a top seller among the merch that was sold that night. It also embodies my feelings towards anyone that was unfortunate to not witness what had transpired on stage. And just like that, the rollercoaster came to a swift halt.