Photos by Katrina Lat
When you walk into the Scotiabank Arena, there’s an unspoken tension and energy pulsating in the building. Patrons of Astroworld eagerly anticipate the thrilling night ahead of them and the venue has done its best to transform into the fantasy land for the night. Travis Scott wants this to be an attraction to remember. There are inflatables and decorative displays scattered outside and inside the arena that are popular backdrops to Stories, Snaps, and selfies.
Concession stands have Astroworld borders, there’s a sultry voice welcoming you to Astroworld and wishing you to enjoy your stay, and like any good amusement park, there is merchandise for sale. As rap and fashion have quickly become synonymous with the likes of Kanye West and A$AP Rocky leading the charge, concert paraphernalia has become closet staples of the HYPEBEAST culture. With Virgil Abloh of Off-White and LV having left his fingerprints on some earlier pieces for Astroworld, this merchandise is a hot ticket item and I’ve never seen a line for stores as long as this one. Attendees parade around in their name brand clothing and freshly minted concert merchandise, peacocking for their contemporaries.
Sheck Wes is an electrifying opener that is a precursor to the night ahead. It’s almost fitting that his anthemic tracks – some braggadocious and some, more importantly, celebrating basketball icons like Kyrie and Mo Bamba – are being echoed in the heart of Canadian basketball, the Scotiabank Arena. His music and performance personify running through a wall and this is a promise of what’s to come.
After a twenty to thirty minute set, Sheck Wes leaves the stage while the crowd anxiously waits for their host’s arrival. The audience continues to trickle in and having heard they missed Sheck Wes’ performance, are waiting for the performer of the night with growing anticipation. While waiting, Mo Bamba breaks out intermittently among the floor crowd and chants for “Travis” fail to gain traction, but once the lights go out, we enter a new world. Astroworld.
The show starts with stunning visuals introducing Astroworld (splicing advertisements in between artistic shots) when suddenly, Travis Scott appears on the other end of the arena opening up the show with STARGAZING. He is jumping and dancing around on stage bathed in lights, perhaps trying to replicate the psychedelic trip the song is based on, or metaphorically representing the star we’re currently gazing.
The rest of the show is outlandish in recreating Astroworld in the arena — there are two roller coasters on the premises that Travis Scott rides in while performing (and four lucky floor level attendees get to ride in during the concert), fire displays, fireworks during NO BYSTANDERS, massive screens being dropped down for arena-wide projections that culminated in a performance of STOP TRYING TO BE GOD, and a 30-foot inflatable astronaut. If Sheck Wes was the electrifying opener to this concert, Travis Scott is the thunder that follows, injecting adrenaline into the crowd with his theatrics.
Travis Scott also performs a fan favourite off Astroworld, BUTTERFLY EFFECT, and tracks for his “day one” fans, way back and Drugs You Should Try It. He also surprises fans with Mile High from James Blake’s Assume Form and Love Galore from SZA’s Ctrl. But as the night winds down, everyone knows the last song is going to be SICKO MODE and when the opening beats start playing, the crowd erupts. “Like a light / Like a light” is chanted by everyone in the stadium and pillars of fire highlight the intensity of the track before Travis Scott disappears below the stage.
As patrons start trickling out to leave the venue, I can’t help but see the parallels of a queue to leave or enter an amusement park, but one thing is for certain — we all enjoyed our stay at Astroworld.