Even though acts like Megan Thee Stallion, Young Thug and Marilyn Manson warmed up the crowd just hours before, there was still a tangible chill hovering over the venue. You could attribute it to the city’s unseasonably cold weather, or the fans’ eagerness as they patiently waited for their favorite rapper to grace the stage.
Finally, after a 30-minute delay, the stage lights flashed to signal Scott’s arrival. Before then, none other than Dave Chappelle appeared to introduce the rapper. “Tonight I flew in from Ohio to rock with the local legend,” the comedian began before showing love to Scott and calling for the freedom of Texas death row inmate Rodney Reed. “A young man that left the city with nothing, conquered the world and brought it home for you.”
The set began with a breaking news-style video showing the rapper hurting his knee. It then transitioned into a mock video of EMTs trying to assist with the injury (with grossly exposed knee bone -- cartilage and all) as blood spewed all over their faces. Then, in a brilliant move, an actual ambulance appeared on stage as Scott himself was carried out on a gurney before being propped up onto a cherry picker lift to rip through his endless hits.
In true Travis Scott fashion, he immediately called for his fans to start opening the mosh pit as he spit Astroworld opener “Stargazing” while looking above the packed crowd of approximately 60,000 attendees. Backed by neon-colored and distorted visuals just as psychedelic as his recent album, Scott rapped both new and classic party starters like “No Bystanders,” “Carousel,” “Way Back,” “Highest in the Room” and “Upper Echelon.”
“I’m trying to see the rage tonight, so choose your side wisely,” he roared, ready for his fans to channel all the energy he may have lost due to the injury. Scott was in such high spirits that at one point, he accidentally dropped his mic in the crowd. A male fan quickly picked it up and urged to be taken on stage.
He soon slowed things down with a mini croon-fest, wooing the audience with Rodeo slow jam “90210,” his lucid verse on SZA’s “Love Galore,” “Wake Up” and “Skeletons” -- his favorite song from Astroworld that he dedicates to his mother. The vivacity was kicked into full-gear once again, when Scott gave his daughter Stormi a shout-out and revealed an onslaught of surprises.
First up was Roddy Rich, who rocked the crowd with “Ballin’” despite the power blowing out for a short period. Migos and Young Thug, who previously dominated their own sets, were up next. The rappers joined Scott to perform an unreleased new song that included a bold chorus line, “We don’t give no f--ks.” Thug also stuck around to deliver his “Hot” remix alongside Gunna and Scott himself.
Scott then stopped his set to acknowledge the guy “who rolled the dice on me and taught me everything I know.” The name that came to mind was of course mentor Kanye West. And without hesitation, the Chicago star rushed onto the stage for a one-two punch of Jesus Is King highlight “Follow God” and Graduation’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” before happily embracing Scott.
Rae Sremmurd’s Swae Lee seemingly appeared out of nowhere to assist Scott with the festival’s grand finale: the brain-rattling “Sicko Mode.” While Drake wasn’t there to spit his guest bars, Scott made up for it with a colorful display of pyrotechnics and fireworks that set the Houston sky ablaze.
The rapper may not have had the fireball energy fans are used to seeing, but his confident showing at this year’s Astroworld proved he was a true testament to the classic phrase: “The show must go on."