Words and photography by Zachary Walker.
The LONGLIVEA$AP Tour stormed through Chicago last Thursday at the infamous Congress Theater with guest appearances from the A$AP Mob, chipped-tooth Danny Brown, Qunicy Hanley, better known as Schoolboy Q, and about 20 of their friends who bopped around on stage like a scene out of E-40′s “Tell Me When To Go” video. After releasing his debut mixtape LiveLoveA$AP almost a year ago this October 31st, Rocky began to receive heavy acclaim due to it’s southern feel, production featuring woozy soundscapes, low and mid-tempo beats, and chopped and screwed choruses.
With it being my first time catching Rocky live, I was curious as to how the show would go. Considering myself a Hip-Hop show veteran, I’ve become accustomed to rappers and their “stage presence” which typically includes a DJ stand, maybe some sort of backdrop, and then it’s all topped off with a bunch of random people standing on stage looking into the crowd. Would this be any different I wondered? The answer: not really. Do keep in mind that these are the opinions of myself and not necessarily those of IMF, but we can get into the details behind my opinion further into this review. Now, lets paint a picture of what went down for those of you who may happened to have missed A$AP Rocky and the Mob live at Congress Theater.
The all-ages Hip-Hop show – more and more I’m starting to see a trend happening in Chicago where almost 90% of shows happening are being bombarded by kids whose parents happened to let them out of the house courtesy of a 6pm show time. I’m all for everyone being able to enjoy music together but when you’re an adult and you happen to look over at what looks to be a 15 year old girl grinding on some guy, it quickly loses its appeal. It is a bit comedic though and like I said, everyone deserves to enjoy the music regardless of age. I love you youngins! All of that aside, we arrived at Congress Theater just as SchoolboyQ was finishing up his set which meant we missed Danny Brown sadly. He looked into the crowd and asked “Should I do ‘Hands on the Wheel’ now, or should I wait til later?” The crowd roared and cheers of “now” and “with A$AP” were heard all over. He ultimately kept the fans waiting as he thanked everyone for coming out and slowly walked off stage.
A large backdrop painting the picture of a war scene hung from the ceiling. It featured an upside down American flag being held up by troops as choppers littered the background. Crates were scattered all over the stage and the DJ booth was decorated in camouflage. It seemed as though A$AP was preparing for battle, or maybe he was already at war, but with who? The first thing that came to my mind was what if a real solider saw this – what would he/she think? For some, war is a foreign subject they will never know much about and for others, glorifying it is asinine. The picture was clear however, Rocky and the Mob are at war.
Rocky about to rob a bank.
Just about forty minutes had passed since Rocky was supposed to hit the stage and fans did not take it lightly. No surprise there considering I witnessed about three fights breakout before his set even began. Little kids are so angry these days. As the crowd grew restless, loud “boo’s” were echoing throughout Congress Theater as Future played in the background. As 9 o’clock approached, the house lights went dim, the DJ stepped up to the booth, and the signal was given that rocky was about to step out. A pre-recorded tape began playing with Rockys voice as a narration for the audience. Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” was heard in the background as the war theme carried on. And so it began.
Donned in a bright orange ski mask, Rocky stormed on stage, mic in hand, black American flag in the other as he jumped right into tracks from the Mob’s Lord$ Never Worry mixtape. In all honesty, I could have done without this mixtape even being played, but considering the show wasn’t just Rocky, I knew there was more to come. Soon after Rocky stepped on stage, so did the Mob members. Throwing water on the crowd, constant running and jumping, and screaming “put your hands up” were clearly the responsibilities of the Mob. Annoying? Very.
Guest appearances for the evening included Chief Keef’s crew, but where was Keef? House arrest I presume. Either way, at this point and time there was about 25 people on stage and a lot of screaming into the mic happening. As I sat there wondering “do they know they have a microphone and it already amplifies their voice”, the stage cleared, and A$AP began to run through tracks from his debut mixtape. Finally I thought. This was the moment I had been waiting for. Simply A$AP, no mob, no friends, just Rocky.
Rocky’s potential in this industry is limitless but just because you have the spotlight, don’t try and flood your friends into it simply because they think they can rap or you want to make the next Wu-Tang. The Mob was too much at times and I think the majority of the crowd would have been happy to simply see Rocky. As he furthers his career is this rap game, I hope someone on his end has the wherewithal to give him some pointers on creating a more performance oriented show vs. a party with your homies type scenario. I’ll be waiting.
Big thanks to React Presents.