By Opheli Garcia Lawler
Madison Square Garden Theater is a weird place to hold a rap concert. It’s a venue with formal overtones, rules, and other environmental limitations and formalities that could potentially limit the scope of a rap show. Despite the lights being turned on during every set and the plush chairs that no one sat in, all four performers put on a hype show, with the audience’s energy never fading, despite the show’s lengthiness, and the aforementioned lights shining onto the sweaty crowd, who had, been moshing their hypebeast brains out.
Vince Staples was the first opener, and he disproved the theory that most opening acts are inconsequential fillers to the main event. Instead, his bouncing around the stage, biting flow, and playing hits from Summertime 06’ and songs from before. As one of the most promising emerging artists from this year, this performance, and his presence on such a huge tour, was both well deserved and well decided.
What can be said about a Danny Brown show that hasn’t been said before? His performances never fail to entertain, a fact that is equal parts Danny’s ingenuity, and his audiences reactions to his presence. Whether he is doing a slow mo run across the stage, or his fans are losing every single one of their inhibitions, you will never leave a Danny Brown performance and think “Well, that could have been more wild.” His performance at MSG Theater was no different, and Danny’s high voice and childlike movements prove that hypermasculinity isn’t the only way to start a mosh pit.
Tyler the Creator is put on a relatively calm show compared to some of his more colorful stints in the past. There were no threats of long monologues, and the most exciting words Tyler spoke, outside of performing his songs, was “Do you like my bears?” referring to the large toy bears falling out of a toy box on stage. The entire stage was designed to look like a child’s toy box, a creative choice that fits Tyler’s overall aesthetic, and also, his overall demographic. The crowd though, seemed intent on getting up on stage, which involved two kids getting thrown off stage. One of the young men who ran the stage got body slammed so hard, the entire crowd let out a collective “Whoa!”
A$AP Rocky rounded out the night’s performers, giving a lot of energy to his crowd, with a sick light show, multi-level stage, and brief interludes of his ability to sing along with rapping. He also spoke to the crowd about the importance of love between artists, about collaboration and about positivity in general. As cliche as some of those words may be, A$AP Rocky sounded like he meant it. With much of the A$AP mob on stage, Rocky’s performance was very much a group effort. This effort was only further expanded upon when Vince Staples came out, and the two bounced around the stage with so much energy, that you knew they’d be performing their music whether their was a crowd or not. The highlight of A$AP’s performance was when the confetti that fell over the crowd contained real money, and Rocky yelled “That’s Yam’s money.”
The main critique of this tour was that, and this arguably mostly due to the venue, it felt like a lineup that had no life between acts, and the overall performance felt like they were on a tight time schedule, with no room for spontaneity or real intimacy with the crowd. Despite the stuffy venue and lifeless transitions, this motley crew brought the lively energy of a rap-show to MSG, and that alone is a major accomplishment.
Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Highlighter Staff Columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org