There were two stages set up at the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Dec. 5 for Travis Scott’s “Wish You Were Here” Tour — one main stage in the front and one side stage, unimposing even with the yawning “O” of the carousel roller coaster that had been built on top of it, in the back. Fellow Daily Arts Writer Mike Watkins, who was also attending the show, knew that Travis was going to perform the first few songs of the show on the back stage and then transition to the main stage by way of roller coaster. We looked up. The skeleton of a roller coaster track hung from the arena’s roof. We moved to the smaller stage in the back and, having guessed correctly, found ourselves arms length away from Travis Scott himself when the show finally started, riding the crest of a monstrous mosh pit, losing our minds to “STARGAZING.”
Much like ASTROWORLD itself, the “Wish You Were Here” Tour was twisted around the concept of a psychedelic carnival. Each detail of the show strove to be more ostentatious than the last. The visuals were trippy and brightly colored, some stretched out of proportion as if placed in front of a funhouse mirror. Halfway through the set, a larger than life astronaut popped out of the ground, dwarfing Travis Scott as he sat on the end of the main stage, a literal man on the moon. And the performance’s coup de grâce — the massive roller coaster that stretched above our heads from one stage to the other — was near sacrilegious, the general admission crowd following its track in a mass that was reminiscent of Kanye’s floating stage during the Saint Pablo tour.
It almost was too absurdly gaudy — the show’s visuals and props in danger of overpowering the music itself. As you were thrown around from one sweaty body to the next, the roar of the crowd and your own heartbeat echoing in your ears, you could barely hear “Mamacita” or “BUTTERFLY EFFECT” or “HOUSTONFORNICATION.” Yet, as Little Caesars Arena exploded in whorls of spiraling lights and thrashing arms during every era of Travis Scott music — from “Quintana” and “Drugs You Should Try It” that went all the way back to Days Before Rodeo and Owl Pharaoh to “goosebumps” and “way back” from Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight to the more popular “NO BYSTANDERS” and “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD” from ASTROWORLD — we were shown that these various garish and glaring aspects of the show, as well as the rage that accompanied every aspect, are as much a part of a Travis Scott performance as the music itself.
— Shima Sadaghiyani, Daily Music Editor
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK OH MYYYYY GOOOOOOOODDDDD HOOOLLLYYYYY SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!!!!!!
That was the first 10 minutes of my experience at Travis Scott’s Detroit stop on his monolithic “Wish You Were Here” tour. Just an arms length from the rail that separated the savage crowd from the miniature stage on which Scott stood, I was afloat in the oceanic energy of the sweaty ragers.
Acknowledging the presence of “ragers” at a massively mainstream arena concert feels weird to me, and that’s the gist of my take on Scott’s live show. With conflated identities as an imperfect trap demon that brought unprecedented energy to hip hop and an ambitious chart-chaser with polished promotional tactics, Scott has garnered a uniquely eclectic fanbase over the course of his career to which the ASTROWORLD tour is expertly catered. To your left could be a 24-year-old who got lit to “Upper Echelon” while driving to a party in her junior year of high school, to your right could be a 13-year-old whose mom is parked outside with a budding teenage angst that is tragically fueled by “Sicko Mode” — and both would leave the concert perfectly content.
Oftentimes, arena shows are vacuums — the venues are just too big and contain too many people to emulate the intimacy and energy of smaller settings. To compensate, these blockbuster performances boast incredible stage designs with colossal props to keep the audience at least visually engaged (see: Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN tour). Somehow, Scott avoided this plague, shrinking Little Caesars Arena to provide longtime fans the chaotic energy they associated with the prince of their high school hip-hop days while riding a roller coaster above the crowd to inspire recent fans who couldn’t believe they were witnessing their favorite superstar in action.
The show was a unique moment between young and old: Both “Mamacita” and “NC-17” received equal applause. This rarity is likely because Scott rests at a special point in his career, with overlapping respect from fans of five years and fans of five months. This moment is incredibly transient — just ask Eminem. As an artist grows, they shed the characteristics that brought them into the spotlight in favor of new characteristics that attempt to hold the spotlight in place as it naturally migrates to the next star. I’m glad I was able to catch Scott before this demise takes place.
— Mike Watkins, Daily Music Writer