Gig Reviews

Travis Scott – 170 Russell, Melbourne 27/09/16

Travis Scott‘s reputation as rager supreme is well deserved. The (post-)rapper is an athletic performer, his shows – complete with stage-diving – all controlled chaos. He moves so fast that every phone snap is blurred. And curiously, live, La Flame’s avant-trap is more energetic – and intense – than on record.

Scott was a late addition to the Listen Out dance fest, where he was scheduled ahead of A$AP Ferg until their slots were mysteriously switched. At any rate, the tour announce was auspicious, Scott soon after dropping Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight (BITTSM) – his second ‘artist’ album on TI’s Grand Hustle and a US #1.

Scott’s inaugural Australian headline date in Melbourne attracted diehard fans and a diverse demographic of hip-hop hipsters. It was sold-out. Reports suggested that peepz were queuing outside the venue from 5pm to secure a mosh pit possie. #EarlyBirdsInTheTrap

Scott has been proclaimed the new Kanye West and his local label, Sony, gave 2015’s debut Rodeo a huge push. Early in his career, the versatile Texan signed to GOOD Music as an in-house producer, later working with Madonna. At Scott’s Melbourne gig, punters wore Yeezy T-shirts. Scott performed in his own Australian tour T, his eagle motif reproduced on a pale blue background.

Warming up was Scott’s DJ, hypeman and bestie Chase B – keeping things street. Video screens on the DJ’s console, and back wall, showed flames.

In an unprecedented occurrence for a US hip-hop star, Scott hit the stage some 30 minutes early, breaking into the ends, his song with André 3000 off BITTSM, followed by way back. Indeed, the setlist was skewed towards recent material.

Scott paid props to Yeezy, covering part of Father Stretch My Hands from The Life Of Pablo. Still, he did delve back, rapping (the Ye-co-produced) Upper Echelon off his first mixtape Owl Pharaoh from 2013.

Scott introduced 90210, the beguiling DJ Dahi-masterminded space trap epic on Rodeo, by doing a Yeezy – that is, expressing a grievance. The cinematic 90210 video wasn’t nominated for the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards – boo. Scott proclaimed it “the best video of all time.”

At this side-show, Scott seemed less Auto-Tuned, his voice clearer. He’s more skilled as an MC than is generally acknowledged. The audience chanted along to many of the songs – especially those off BITTSM like the tuneful through the late night. Weirdly, and controversially, white kids freely repeated the ‘N’ word.

Yet Scott is always about the party. He exhorted fans to show him the blood, the sweat, the love and the rage. Ragers readily, and unrestrictedly, climbed on stage, only to leap into the crowd. And, courageously, Scott himself surfed – bling and all. The nimble rapper even managed to work his way through the audience and up onto a drinks table – very precarious. Eventually he trustingly handed his mic momentarily to a punter so as to climb down. Bet Scott’s bodyguards need hardcore antacid tablets…

However, there’s something punctilious about Trav. The “professional anarchy maestro” is surely hyper-disciplined. To sustain such wild performances, he must be fit. #BirdsInTheGym, This is mayhem as curated art.

Scott finished promptly before 11pm with a series of his biggest bangers: pick up the phone, his latest Young Thug collab, goosebumps, another crowd favourite, and, from Rodeo, Antidote – his highest charting song Stateside. Scott didn’t do an encore. The eagle had flown.

Travis Scott finished up his Australian tour tonight, Wednesday September 28th, at Sydney’s Metro Theatre.

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