9/14/15 (8 p.m.)
On my way into Travis Scott's concert at Santa Ana's Observatory on Monday night, I saw three different girls being either carried or helped out by their friends and/or security guard. The security line for the 9 p.m. show stretched to the end of the winding barricades allotted for the queue, and a mob was already forming for the 11:00.
It was barely after 8 p.m.
The interior of the venue was no less ridiculous, with the young fans (see: no one over the age of 25, the vast majority in the 16-22 range) packing every square inch of the building from the stage back to the bar. Before Scott even took the stage, most of the energetic (and generally either booze- or drug-infused) crowd was turning up and getting down to the DJ playing everything from Fetty Wap to Chief Keef from atop the giant video screen that would serve as Scott's backdrop.
Welcome to pandemonium.
When Scott took the stage and opened his set with "Pornography" (in front of the screen now projecting a short video of a nude woman), the crowd erupted in cheers, dancing (well, more like bouncing, since no one could move that much), crowdsurfing, and overall raucousness. It was undoubtedly exactly how the 23-year-old rapper wanted to begin things.
Once the initial song was over and a bouncer grabbed a crowdsurfer from just in front of the barrier, Scott voiced his displeasure with the situation, saying that the videos of him yelling at security on TMZ and the internet were because he doesn't like security grabbing his fans.
"If my fans want to crowdsurf, you let them do what the fuck they want to do," Scott said before questioning the security guard's method of "protection," adding "there ain't no protection over here."
With the security situation settled, Scott continued his set with "Quintana" and "Pray 4 Love" and the audience continued to lose their minds. It really didn't matter what he did or said, every person in the room was there for the rodeo (complete with fake cacti and cattle skull). Scott was everything you could ask for from a rapper performing live. He was energetic, appropriately angry, crowd-loving, and full of emotion, but there was still something missing.
Regardless of his music (which basically sounds like a combination of a handful of rappers from the last half-decade), Scott is certainly among the "it" rappers of 2015. He's not the best lyricist and he doesn't have the best flow, but his beats are pretty solid and he clearly has the attention of the youth, as evidenced by the ecstatic reaction to Scott's semi-anthemic next track, "Uptown."
While some may consider themselves to be "diehard" Travis Scott fans, it's pretty likely that they'll all but forget about him in a few years if he fails to impress with his follow-up to Rodeo (or waits too long, like Machine Gun Kelly). It's also pretty likely that there are more terrible (see: misspelled) tattoos in Scott's fan base than there are college degrees (not necessarily because of intelligence, but age and/or lack of decision-making ability). Just a few songs in, it became clear that Travis Scott's biggest fans are much more into the partying lifestyle the rapper portrays than hip-hop itself. You're probably more likely to see most of them at an EDM show than a concert for any rapper who isn't currently in the headlines.
As soon as "Don't Play" and "Quintana, Pt. 2" were in the books, it was time for Scott to bust out the first showstopper of the night, as the floor literally shook under the weight of the crowd jumping along to "Upper Echelon." Maybe it was the best-timed earthquake ever, who knows?
"90210," "Drugs You Should Try It" and "Wasted" followed, and much of the audience continued to go just as hard as they did in the beginning, although a few dozen decided to file their way from the sardine-like mosh pit back to the ever-so-slightly more spacious bar area as their energy and substances wore thin. Perhaps for his own energy levels, the Houston-based rapper took a brief break every couple of songs to hype up the audience, introduce a song, or take a second to appreciate the roughly 10-foot tall video screen showing random snippets (a rose, a desert landscape, the famous scene from Over the Edge where the kids trash a bunch of cars, etc.), but no one seemed to mind.
Considering doors for the late show opened at 10:30, everyone knew the set had to be winding to a close as the clock reached closer to 10. Scott's fans were passionate about living up every moment and not worrying about class in the morning until the end of the set, continuing to bounce and take Snapchat videos of "Nightcrawler," "Skyfall" and "Mamacita."
I don't know why, but I held out brief hope that Future would come out for "3500," but he didn't, and the audience was totally cool with that (though I'd like to think they would've taken things to the next level if any guests had joined Scott on stage, like Chief Keef did at Fool's Gold Day Off a couple weeks ago). "Piss on Your Grave" followed, which was kind of an odd choice considering the set was finishing up with more of a party vibe than an angry one.
Between "Maria I'm Drunk" and "Antidote" (at which point even the college-aged attendees who didn't seem super interested in being there began to jump around and post horrible videos to their social media) closing out the set, there was no reason for Travis Scott to come back for one more song with a pseudo-encore, but he did it anyway. "Apple Pie" finished the evening out, and then thousands of excited (and formerly drunk, high, and/or rolling) teens and early-twentysomethings filed their way out of the Observatory and into the parking lot, only to find another enormous pack of their peers, all ready and eager to take their places and watch Travis Scott do it all over again.