“I’m overwhelmed,” Kid Cudi said about halfway through his 50-minute set at the first annual ComplexCon. “Y’all gonna make me cry and shit.”
For fans who’ve been keeping up with Cudi and his recent woes, Saturday night (Nov. 5) was a momentous occasion. It marked his first performance since admitting himself to rehab a month ago after acknowledging his bouts with chronic depression required professional assistance.
“There’s a raging violent storm inside of my heart at all times,” he admitted in a Facebook note posted a day into his stay. “I simply am a damaged human swimming in a pool of emotions every day of my life.”
But there’s comfort in community and Cudi clearly has built a massive one founded on his extensive catalog of songs for the lonely and disillusioned. Saturday evening, maybe more so than ever, made apparent just how much of his music is overwhelmingly about being in the dumps and hoping for a better tomorrow.
“This right here is dedicated to all the f—ed up kids like me,” Cudi said to a packed arena at California’s Long Beach Convention Center before launching into “Mr. Rager” — a cut about that monster within.
Sharing his pain with thousands who relate is something that at least provided him with temporary joy. Cudi, in a white henley tucked into his jeans, seemed consumed by cheer while on stage. He danced often, signed posters during hook breaks and constantly told specific crowd members he loved them.
“Up, Up And Away” and its message of floating over doubters, opting instead to greet sunlight and positivity was a highlight as well. “This one is really dedicated to y’all,” Cudi said as fan-favorite “Pursuit of Happiness” rang.
Cudi also brought out Travis Scott (more on his full performance later), an admitted disciple of the night’s headliner to perform their collab “Through the Late Night.” “I’m f—ing fanning out,” Scott yelled. Wearing Bape T-shirt with Cudi’s image on it, he was giddy seeing his idol doing well. “Make some motherf—ing noise for Kid Cudi.” Pharrell Williams, who also joined them on stage, echoed those sentiments.
His rehab entry was a scare for many, but if Saturday was any indication of the mercurial artist’s vitality, Kid Cudi is very much alive.
Continue reading to find out how Travis Scott and Skrillex did at ComplexCon.
Travis Scott’s Boundless Energy
Travis Scott is a wild man. At 24, he’s equipped with punk-rap hits and boundless energy — both of which he brought just ahead of Kid Cudi’s performance.
“I’m looking for n—as that’s down to rage,” Scott yelled with eyes wide as he peered into the willing audience. He cannon-balled into the crowd, rode on his security guard’s shoulders during “3500,” and often asked for hands to be up high enough to give “God a great handshake.”
Quavo, a third of rap group Migos, joined Scott for smash “Pick Up the Phone,” but it was always Travis’ antics and beaming vibes that propelled his set — whether it was his auto-tuned crooning through “Maria, I’m Drunk” or trying to “make this floor drop” as he banged through “Upper Echelon.”
Playing off the title of his latest album, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, his stage featured a gigantic caged black bird with red eyes. Its wings flapped throughout his showing in nightmarish fashion, though it was a fun addition.
Travis climbed and hung off fencing,dangerously high above ground level as fog clouded past him at his dystopian party. “They telling me I gotta go,” he revealed as his time dwindled. But before he left he had a final request: “Get chaotic. Like really crazy
“Antidote” blared. “If you have a drink,” Scott ordered, “swallow it. If you have a blunt, eat it. If you got tobacco, shove it up your anus! Tobacco is disgusting!”
Skrillex Goes to Outer Space
On the surface, Skrillex seemed to be an odd choice as a late-night closer to ComplexCon’s Saturday night. Complex is known as a publication that functions at the intersection of hip-hop, indie cool, style and pop culture. An EDM DJ/producer didn’t fair to be the best choice to wrap a night consumed by the likes of Travis Scott and Kid Cudi. And fears that many would leave after Cudi’s set were verified when roughly half of the arena emptied prior to Skrillex’s arrival.
Those who stayed, however, bounced happily through the acclaimed, hit-making DJ’s set. Spinning from a booth inside of an alien spacecraft with glowing neon lights lining it, Skrillex rocked with a mix of familiar vocals from rappers like Kanye West, Pusha T and Lil Jon. But instead of pairing them with the tracks they’re down for, he injected them with steroids, adding new muscular basslines. Drake’s festive, horn-laden “Trophies” became a thumping arena-shaker.
Nitrogen and raining confetti blasts made the concert feel more like a Las Vegas club party, which Skrillex is at home. He made ComplexCon his own and won. After taking fans — who by show’s end were exhausted from a lengthy night of jamming — into outer space, they all landed back on earth safely and poured into to the streets to head home for rest.