By: Billy Schoenburg
A powerful lineup of fresh celebrity rappers took the stage at First Avenue, signifying the arrival of the long promoted and awaited LongLiveA$AP tour. Danny Brown, Schoolboy Q, and A$AP Rocky shared a bill that left no one wondering why the show easily sold out.
Danny Brown started off the night with a less than packed room, mainly due to complications at the door with traffic from the Zombie Pub Crawl and a few scalpers selling photocopied counterfeit tickets to countless unsuspecting youths. This undoubtedly meant that plenty of Danny’s fans were unable to catch his shorter set. Nonetheless, his performance proved to be strongest of the night. His energy was undeniable, and despite how young he is, his stage presence gave off the air that he belonged. His songs are well produced, and with First Avenue’s sound system, his energy was the final piece of the puzzle.
Schoolboy Q followed Brown with a set that could not quite compare to his predecessor. The room was quickly filling up, so the energy from the crowd was spot on, and as people started getting lubricated with both drink and smoke, Schoolboy Q’s performance did succeed in at least keeping the crowd going, though in the end it seemed more like an interlude from Danny Brown to A$AP Rocky. Once his set was done, the crowd kept the energy up while popular hip-hop tracks were spun as the stage was prepped for A$AP’s set.
Once it was time for A$AP, the screen lifted to a “war themed” scene. That’s in quotations because the set was less than convincing. Camo nets covered the DJ booth as well as the monitors on stage, and a few vases of fake grass were put in front of the DJ. Following a voice over of A$AP explaining something vague about his journey to the top over a track of classical strings, two gas-masked characters came on stage, followed by A$AP, who was hidden from the crowd in a neon orange ski mask.
After he took off the mask and did a few more tunes, A$AP took a small banter break, at which point he essentially discussed the theme of the show. The only issue was that the theme didn’t really seem to be a theme at all, or at least not a theme that had any solid foundation. At one point he brought up the war decorations, saying that it represents the battle that he and the rest of us are facing: The battle to be understood. To me, this came off as juvenile and vague, as it wasn’t backed up by any sort of political or social statement (which you’d think it might, as his crew was waving upside down American flags the entire night).
Regardless, the crowd was having fun, steadily dancing to the beat throughout the show, and was especially aroused when A$AP went as far as to start handing the microphone off to select people in the audience to see if they had anything to say. Most people didn’t, but a few got the crowd going.
By the end of the show, I think A$AP achieved exactly what he was going for. The show was sold out, the energy in the crowd was there, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. Throughout the night there were a few more breaks with varying music and long-winded voiceovers, as well as returns from both Schoolboy Q and Danny Brown, which always brought the energy back up.
However, as someone who has never actively listened to A$AP Rocky, the show came off as shallow and poorly constructed. His posse seemed to add little to the ensemble and brought to the stage the feeling of a bunch of kids playing celebrity, his beats sounded repetitive from tune to tune, and he didn’t bring the edge I expect from such a big name. If you’re going to play the role of hip-hop superstar through the evening, performing songs about weed to a sold out crowd at First Avenue without once sparking one up, I think you’re doing it wrong.