The first of many stage dives during night one of Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD MSG tour stop took place around the 15-minute mark of his headlining set.
Travis had just taken up position on the main stage, after entering the arena on the center platform by the ferris wheel/carousel that you’ve undoubtedly seen all over Instagram since the tour started. As he riffed with longtime DJ and right-hand man Chase B, a fan casually streaked across the stage behind him and hit a triple Lindy into the throbbing pit. Travis barely reacted, using the moment to announce, “Welcome to a Travis Scott show, ravers only.” Minutes later, Travis himself helped a fan get on stage to do the same thing.
I’ve seen the Travis Scott Show in New York several times before. It was great when he toured Days Before Rodeo alongside Young Thug and immediately made a case for having the best live show in rap. It was great when Rodeo dropped and he did three consecutive nights at Gramercy Theater. Hell, he even turned a Nike industry event upside down when More Life dropped with “Portland” as its crown jewel. But none of those performances could compare to the spectacle of seeing him at the Mecca for not one but two sold out shows, all on his own. ASTROWORLD at The Garden was The Travis Scott Show in IMAX (the real deal nine story shit, not those cheap facsimiles) and watching La Flame actualize the ambitions he’s vocalized for the last four years was a thrill unto itself.
Much has been made of ASTROWORLD the album being a watershed moment in Travis’ career. A blockbuster tour to supplement a blockbuster album seemed like a foregone conclusion in the afterglow of delivering a top five (three? two?) project of the year. But there was a general dubiousness over whether the rowdy reputation of the Rodeo would translate well as it jumped from standing room only to an actual arena. One got a light sense of restrained frustration when he had previously opened up for the likes of Rihanna and Kendrick in arenas—big looks, but still out of his element.
As Travis strapped himself in a legit carousel to perform “Carousel,” I felt shades of the Glow in the Dark Tour
The most important thing about the the ASTROWORLD tour is that Travis conforms the arena setting to his standards, with a floor completely devoid of seating. “It ain’t a mosh pit if ain’t no injuries” after all. There was enough energy to make the ragers who weren’t on the floor want to “stage dive from the nosebleeds.” Security knew better than to obstruct any stage-rushers: that type of action was welcomed and enabled. The fans showed up and out—their excitement at seeing Cactus Jack playing in the big leagues was palpable. They came to rage and fuck the club up—on time even.
I’ve never seen any venue, let alone the fucking Garden, as packed and engaged at 7:30 as they were for Sheck Wes, who barely leaves the rest of his fellow openers any shine to work with. Travis reciprocated that love, both through interaction and the setlist. Early staples in his discography like “Upper Echelon” or “Drugs You Should Try It” got ample runtime, jockeying for setlist love amidst his growing collection of hits and crowd pleasers. (It's crazy that a show that left nothing lacking still could've made room to include "Oh My Dis Side," or "Who? What!")
The rides that play up the tour's Six Flags theme are there for concert goers to enjoy as much as they are a set design flex. Lucky floor attendees are even offered rides during the performance. The tour design is far from a gimmick. Instagram stories don’t do justice to the ways in which Travis and tour creative director Mike Carson emptied the clip on their imaginations. It's an experience that rewards the whole audience from floor to nosebleeds. If you stand in the right spot as his rollercoaster carries him across the arena floor while the video screen conjures a hell portal, it looks like the cart is escaping the Eye of Sauron. The LED “Wish You Were Here” screen descending during the opening notes of “RIP Screw” almost made me shed a tear, G.
Travis teased his live show ideas almost as long as he teased the album—the result is a rollercoaster that makes room for some of the more mild-mannered songs in his oeuvre while still maintaining so much energy that a special guest is nice, but far from needed. As he strapped himself in a legit carousel to perform “Carousel,” or conjured an inflatable moon man the size of Godzilla, I felt shades of the Glow in the Dark Tour, when Kanye first truly displayed his affinity for theater and cinematic spectacle with a show narrative about being lost in space, complete with a talking ship. Watershed third album coincidence aside, Travis Scott is firmly out of his mentor’s shadow, operating in his own galaxy, but charting a similar course. Seems like the life he needed isn't just nearer, it's here.