With Vince Staples; Danny Brown; Tyler, the Creator
South Side Ballroom
Friday, October 9, 2015
A$AP Rocky walked off the stage at the South Side Ballroom on Friday night a little too proud. His big smile and the laughs he shared with tour-mate Tyler, the Creator on the final night of their Rocky and Tyler tour as he left was evidence enough he was having one of those stereotypical delusion-of-grandeur moments that artists of Rocky’s stature often suffer from — the kind of mindset that tells them they can do no wrong.
Plenty was wrong with Rocky’s abbreviated set. On a night that featured a heavy-hitting bill of four immensely talented and highly touted rappers in Vince Staples, Danny Brown, Tyler, the Creator and Rocky, things needed to run smoothly to make sure all the artists’ set times were unaffected. That meant doors opened at 6:30 p.m. and Staples was on stage by 7:30 sharp, even though the line to get in the venue was still running down several blocks of Lamar Street. Each artist abided by the quick turnover — until the headliner, of course. After Tyler left the stage and Rocky’s elaborate set was put together and seemingly ready to go, the show hit its first lull of the evening. Nearly 20 minutes of nothing passed until the first notes of “JD” rang out.
Clouded by a dense fog and minimal lighting, Rocky danced, posed and soaked in his fans’ adoration while the interlude played out then jumped into “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2.” Other than starting late, Rocky’s real issue during his set was the amount of time he wasted between songs. Most, if not all, of the banter Rocky shared with the crowd was useless. This wasn’t insightful information about the next song he’d play or even him disingenuously telling Dallas we were the best crowd on tour. Instead it was banter about pranks that Tyler, the Creator and company tried to pull on the A$AP Mob or how much fun Rocky has had on tour with those guys.
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The crowd didn’t seem to mind in the beginning. They seemed to enjoy every moment of Rocky’s set, especially as he performed “L$D,” “Excuse Me” and “Jukebox Joints,” which are three of the best tracks from Rocky’s most recent release, AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP. The set hit a climax during “Wild For The Night,” an EDM-heavy track produced by Skrillex. Rocky drove the crowd into a frenzy from the second deck of his three-tiered, LED-lit stage as he danced back and forth with them. During the set, though, it became clear that Rocky is more interested in theatrics than being a pure performer. His big, elaborate set with an impressive light show did more to win over the crowd than his rapping and singing did, especially since he let a vocal track do most of the work.
At 11 p.m., less than 45 minutes into the set and after no more than six or seven songs had been performed, Rocky announced he was out of time but would fit in one more. Even here, after announcing he was out of time and would only do one more song, Rocky remained wordy and bargained with the crowd. In the time he wasted trying to decide on a closer, he could easily have done one more. The crowd was looking for more tracks from the new album, but Rocky wanted to play some old mixtape material like “Brand New Guy.” Just as Rocky was close to making a decision, Tyler, the Creator jumped on stage and told him he needed to play the 2012 hit “Fuckin’ Problems.” Rocky went with Tyler’s suggestion and played it, then followed it up with a medley of “Electric Body” and “Canal St.”
In an even more frustrating move, Rocky and his A$AP Mob cohorts (and Tyler and his Golf Wang cohorts) bounced around the stage as the crowd filed out of the ballroom to the tune of a few non-Rocky songs being spun by the DJ. It was an odd and abrupt ending to a poorly time-managed set. A peek at the set list on stage showed the crowd missed out on hearing at least seven more songs including “Goldie,” “Shabba” and “Peso.”
It’s possible that somewhere during the tour, Tyler, the Creator’s juvenile behavior rubbed off on the Harlem rapper, but even Tyler, who acts as if he’s the Peter Pan of rap, took a businesslike approach to his performance and worked through his full set, joked with the crowd and wasted little time. Openers Danny Brown and Vince Staples hardly had time to say a word to the crowd but still managed to fit in more tracks than Rocky performed. The undercard stole the show on this night. Rocky’s wordiness ruined a fantastic lineup that hammered home that we don’t need to go to Austin for ACL when it comes to Dallas in pieces.