A$AP ROCKY at the Opera House, Friday, January 27. Rating: NNN
Just past getting your ticket ripped, you could smell the good vibes emanating from the A$AP Rocky show inside the Opera House. By the time you got beers at the very packed bar, you'd get contact.
This show, the young Harlem rapper's international debut, felt as giddily anticipated as last year's first Odd Future showing: tickets sold out almost immediately, the lead up involved fielding texts and Facebook messages from people shit out of luck, a convivial vibe hinged upon pure excitement hung over the tight crowd.
Rocky came out at a very punctual 10:30 and, approximately two minutes later, took the first of many dives into the audience's reaching arms. Initially dazed, it took Wassup to shake up the crowd up a bit, but by the time Rocky cued Three 6 Mafia's Sippin' On Some Sizzurp to tease into the monstrous Purple Swag, they were going off.
Early reports of Rocky's amateur stage presence can be struck. He's good-humoured and likable and has quickly learned how to command fans by playing up city praise, leaping constantly into the crowd, and kissing the hands of women pressed up in front. Hook-heavy songs, like the meditative thump of Bass and smoker's anthem Get Lit, easily incite crowd participation, but it seemed everyone knew the words to Trilla anyway. At some point the DJ threw on Juvenile's Ha, winning favour with older heads in the building, and Rocky rapped along. He's also good at one of the best things about rap shows: talking quotable shit on stage. In between breaking up a weak fight and drug talk he praised the city's multiculturalism, calling Toronto "a Crayola box" and yelling "shout out the Somalians," in a nod to his own lineage.
A Drake cameo was inevitable since our dude invited Rocky, and Cali-rapper Kendrick Lamar, to join him on the Club Paradise tour. Despite it being unseasonably warm outside - and a sweatbox inside - Drake sidled on stage in an OVO Canada Goose, hood up, Nike batting gloves on, to perform his own songs, Cameras and The Motto, with Rocky as hypeman, bounding around in back.
A shallow catalogue meant the show was over less than an hour before it started, and so Rocky feigned a close out with Peso's easy sway and trigger-effect chorus. And then he came back out to encore with Out of This World, taking on the last verse a capella; a rappy flourish to end a pretty good rap show.