“I’ve been waiting to do this festival for a long time,” Travis Scott told the American Express stage Sunday night at ACL 2018. He had the stamina to close out weekend one with a stacked deck of frat-house party rap.
His hourlong set detoured to jams like 2014’s “Mamacita,” which the Houston rapper performed years ago at South by Southwest. He had a chip on his shoulder, as if aiming to prove he was a bonafide ACL headliner. Results were mixed.
The ACL big stage was generational this year: After the sheer ‘60s star power of Paul McCartney Friday and the ‘80s suburban dread of Metallica on Saturday, Sunday was a woofer-rocking laser tag arena of thunderous noise, gunshot sound effects, fireworks and bursts of flames. Parents near the emergency exit sat exhausted under trees while a young fan was escorted onstage and handed Scott’s Auto-Tune-enabled to belt the turn-up epic “Goosebumps.”
The whole ordeal took about 45 minutes, punctuated by the Drake-featuring “Sicko Mode” and bookended by vintage ads for defunct Six Flags theme park, AstroWorld, the namesake of Scott’s roller coaster new record.
The 26-year-old rapper, born Jacques Berman Webster II, isn’t interested in traditional Houston sonic ideas like DJ Screw or chopped soul samples. He’s a child of the Tumblr era who funnels bundles of collected MP3s into block-knocking, violently loud rap beats. It’s juiced trap music that goes jumbo and recalls that Austin Powers joke about sharks with lasers.
The kids love it.
Scott, who recently had a baby with reality TV mogul and girlfriend Kylie Jenner, performed last night on “Saturday Night Live” with crossover validation and assistance from John Mayer and Tame Impala. Here it was just Scott and a DJ.
“Dang, my mom would never take me to this concert,” a nearby girl told her friend.
Scott received top billing after Childish Gambino dropped out of the lineup following an injury. “I just want to send some love to Childish Gambino; I know he couldn’t make it,” Scott said to a crowd that appeared smaller than had turned out for either the Friday or Saturday night headliners.
The specter proved an apt contrast in hip-hop style. If Childish Gambino’s recent singles raise awareness of racial injustice, Scott’s poems of casual misogyny and fatalist nightlife dance while the world burns.