TRAVIS SCOTT and METRO BOOMIN and at Danforth Music Hall, Tuesday, March 10. Rating: NNNN
By Tuesday afternoon, word was already snaking around the internet that burgeoning superstar Young Thug – one half of a kinetic bill with Travis Scott entitled the Rodeo Tour – hadn’t made it into Canada and wouldn’t be performing at the Danforth Music Hall that night, much to the dismay of hundreds of fans, some of whom paid upward of $100 for scalped tickets.
But the show went on. Trying to live up to the hype surrounding Young Thug’s first Canadian performance couldn’t have been easy, but Scott and opener Metro Boomin managed to.
Boomin’, a 21-year-old Grammy-nominated producer from Atlanta by way of St. Louis, took the stage alongside Scott’s DJ, OG Chase B, to loud cheers from a restless audience. “We in the six, right?” he said, before launching into Energy from Drake’s world-beating If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late. Pitch-perfect song selection punctuated his 30-minute set, which included other Drake mixtape picks, dips into Gucci Mane’s oeuvre and crowd favourites like U Guessed It and All Day. Metro and Chase B stalked the stage like seasoned vets, seeming to have as much fun as the 800 or so people in attendance.
And then when Scott stepped out to the strains of the WondaGurl-produced intro of his excellent Days Before Rodeo mixtape, a crowd that had seemed on the verge of eruption for much of the night hit a crescendo. Scott had the aura of a superstar, quickly demanding a mic stand. When he performed Quintana, a gargantuan hit from his promising but inconsistent debut, Owl Pharaoh, it suddenly felt like a hardcore show: hordes of teenagers started mini-mosh pits and leapt around with abandon, screaming the lyrics.
Scott has been criticized for letting backing vocals do much of the heavy lifting in performance, but at the Danforth he managed to make it work for him. And he controlled things like a deranged bandleader, pogoing from one side of the stage to the other, demanding that no one be a “bystander” and excoriating security guards for kicking out crowd-surfers. He boasts a bevy of hits well suited to bang loudly at concerts, which they did: Quintana Pt 2, Upper Echelon, Mamacita and Don’t Play threatened to incite a joyous riot.
Things peaked when he brought out hometown star the Weeknd late in the show. Abel Tesfaye performed Often and Drinks On Us to a rapt audience thrilled by another surprise in a night full of them. While it wasn’t exactly a co-sign from The Boy (ahem, Drake), it was yet another notch in Scott’s rapidly swelling belt.