Travis Scott - The Greatest Hip-Hop Performer
Travis Scott - The "Demon" That Is Rebirthing Hip-Hop Shows
The sun was quickly setting on my last night at Bonnaroo. I had just seen Aminé perform, and wasn’t sure where to go next. I hung out by a small stage to charge up my phone and figure out my next move. Instead, while trying to decide the next artist I’d see, I became enthralled watching Crystal Castles perform at the Which Stage.
By this time, it was 8:15 PM and I had to decide if I wanted to see Lorde, BADBADNOTGOOD, or wait around at the Which Stage for a dope spot to see Travis Scott.
“Go explore a little. Just don’t get back here too late,” my friend Nick said. I assured him I wouldn’t be gone for too long.
I got a little greedy and quickly raced over towards What Stage to catch a glimpse of Lorde. She came on stage and was experiencing technical difficulties. I kept glancing at my phone. 8:25. 8:32. 8:37.
“Screw it,” I thought to myself. Unfortunately, Lorde was still having technical issues. I’d be pissed if I missed having a decent spot for Travis Scott.
I was racing to fill up my water bottle and find Nick through the crowd.
I found him within minutes and we were both ready for Travis Scott.
I thought back to when I first saw Travis Scott open for Rihanna in Atlanta in June of 2016. I wasn’t as big of a fan of his then, but I remember he wanted the whole arena to rage. With assigned seating, that’s not so easy. But, somehow he got the crowd amped up enough. The dude just hopped into the crowd and started standing on his fan’s seats. That’s clutch.
In that last year, I had fallen in love with Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight. Travis Scott had a unique way of bringing out dark themes in trap music that has never been done before. From the moment “the ends” begins, to the conclusion of “wonderful,” Birds in the Trap always took me on a journey of darkness, hopelessness, and loneliness.
The album’s heavy and bass-driven instrumentals are unnerving and eerie, yet somehow soothing. The album served as a reminder that we all feel stuck, scared, hopeless, and lonely at times. In those moments, we end up indulging in bad habits to cover up those feelings and fill any voids. But, when the album ends, we find ourselves back in the dark. Alone. Clawing in an attempt to dig ourselves out of the hole we feel infinitely stuck in.
8:59. Alright, cool. 15 more minutes.
9:02. Damn, it’s really only been 3 minutes?
9:04. I’m ready. C’mon Travis.
9:15 rolled around. I was ready to start a mosh pit, but Travis Scott’s DJ was just getting set up. It was at least another 10 minutes before La Flame himself hit the stage.
9:22. All the lights turned off. It was pitch black and all I could see around me were shadows. It was in that moment that we all became a part of the birds in the trap.
The lurking instrumental of “the ends” began to play. Travis Scott emerged on stage and the beat dropped.
What ensued for the next hour was the most raw and chaotic rap show I had ever witnessed. It felt like a metal show. Non-stop movement. Shoving. Jumping. Moshing. Crowdsurfing. Travis was belting lyrics and commanding all of his birds to rage. There was even a fan who was spraying a fire extinguisher in the pit.
With each song, Travis and the crowd were only getting more rowdy and aggressive, which is exactly what I was seeking on this Sunday night. It was throughout this hour-long set where I felt the whole idea of a typical trap-music show died, went to hell, and was being reborn through Travis’s demonic energy. It was a mecca I had been waiting to witness for months.
As if Travis hadn’t already spoiled the crowd by performing both old and new songs, he left the stage, only to emerge from the darkness one final time.
I, along with most of the crowd, had already begun to walk away from the stage. We had enjoyed Travis’s performance and were all heading to the main stage for the final performance of the weekend, which ironically was The Weeknd. Suddenly, we heard the beginning of “goosebumps” beginning to play again.
“7:30 in the night”
It was at this moment that Travis decided to run back on stage and perform “goosebumps” for the second time that evening.
As the crowd ran back to the stage, I saw nothing but excitement from everyone around me. Despite the darkness of Birds in the Trap, running back to the stage with thousands of people gave me the most emotional high I had felt in 2017. I walked away from the Which Stage with something more than just knowing I saw a new favorite artist of mine, but with a sense that I was overcoming a really lonely transition in my life.
I’m really thankful for Travis Scott’s music, specifically Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight. It’s really helped me personally -- as do concerts as a whole. The environment at a show is always fun and uniquely unifying, no matter the genre. The pure solidarity that exists in a concert atmosphere is something that is completely unmatched and so emotionally fulfilling.
Over the last couple of years, it seems that Travis Scott has been able to tap into this idea and completely restructure the expectations of a hip-hop show. Most hip-hop shows have the potential to flop, with a lousy DJ, half spitten lyrics, and mediocre lighting. While Travis Scott doesn’t have a live band behind him, he still manages to put on a hell of a show by emotionally and physically investing energy into it. And that, in and of itself, is what makes his shows a true gem in the hip-hop world today.