Astroworld Incident: Travis Scott Performs For The First Time After 9 months
Scott is back in front of a large crowd nine months after the terrible Houston event, almost eclipsed by his own fireworks.
There’s a reason Travis Scott’s followers are referred to as “ragers“: they are recognized for their unbridled enthusiasm during live concerts and the utter anarchy they bring about in their crowds. This is the Houston rapper’s first significant headlining performance since the deadly crowd crush that resulted in the unintentional deaths of 10 people and hundreds of injured at Scott’s festival Astroworld in 2021. It is obvious that the event affected him. Scott had to stop mid-performance during a supporting role for Meek Mill in New York earlier this year because a spectator had climbed onto the lighting setup. Even a year ago, he might not have called out this kind of behavior, so it was a startling moment.
He shouts out his daughter, Stormy, and runs around the stage, limbs flailing in zigzags, occasionally flopping his body down with his arms grazing the ground, like a worn-out robot. The rapper, also known as La Flame, is very excited tonight. 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 excitement occasionally detracts from his vocal performance; he mumbles through his rendition of his and SZA’s sublime 2017 duet Love Galore and sounds hoarse as he screams the progressively muddled lines. Given how extensively the audience is singing it back to him, perhaps it doesn’t matter.
The set list traverses Scott’s career from beginning to end. Hold That Heat, his most recent joint effort with Future and Southside, opens the show before he introduces lovely swirling party songs from his 2018 album Astroworld. Even God’s Country, a captivating duet with Ye that didn’t appear on West’s album Donda, is performed by him.
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 goes 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.
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 goading them 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 is 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 the 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.”