The line for standing-room floor entry wrapped halfway around Tampa’s Amalie Arena on Sunday night, which made complete sense. Travis Scott’s St. Patrick’s Day appearance came four months after he postponed a November 12 Tampa show on the day it was supposed to happen. And if any fans felt like the 26-year-old rapper owed them anything for the postponement, all those feelings were blown away by the time the drop on “Stargazing” landed on top of nearly 17,000 devotees ready to spit every word back at their idol.
“We shaking the rafters, man,” Scott told the room. It was true, and the bouncing almost never stopped during a 75-minute set that covered nearly three dozen songs.
It’s hard to think of a singular artist that’s a bigger rock star than Scott right now, and he (along with DJ Chase B, who played an after-party at Franklin Manor) was in full control of the room for almost the entire night.
In fact, “Butterfly Effect” may have been the only time the room took a breather, and Scott only seemed to take a sip of water twice during a set that found him bouncing around two stages while pyro, fireworks and real-life rollercoasters all provided stimulation. Outsiders (aka old people who just don’t get how a room full of kids could be so into a guy that sings in auto-tune and only does snippets of songs) need not try to understand the allure of this show either.
You’d have to inhale secondhand Juul vapor. You’d have to witness shirtless dudes riding on the shoulders of other shirtless dudes. You’d have to see the joy on the faces of kids who got pulled out of the crowd and onstage to ride the rollercoasters (an homage to the since-shuttered Astroworld theme park that Scott has been waxing nostalgic about on this album cycle). And you’d have to experience mosh pits that wouldn’t be out of place at during the golden age of now-defunct traveling punk-rock circus Warped Tour.
There is no one that can put on a hip-hop show the way Scott can right now. There is no one who cares about making his fans happy more than Scott does, either. And there aren’t really many mainstream hip-hop artists who have led by example when it comes to charitable giving (see the $500K donation he demanded the NFL give as part of his appearance at the Super Bowl). In so many ways, Scott belongs to his devotees as much as they belong to him.
At one point in the whirlwind set, Scott performed “Upper Echelon.” The song is from way back in 2013, the same year Scott headlined a late-night set at St. Petersburg’s State Theatre. At the time, I wrote that the show might’ve been “the last time you get to see Scott up close and personal for a while.” Scott showed he was ready for arenas during a 2015 tour with The Weeknd (which also stopped at Amalie Arena).
Last night, he fulfilled his the prophecy of “Upper Echelon.” The best part is that it doesn’t look like he’s coming down from the rafters any time soon.