There was very little about the A$AP Rocky show at The Opera House in Toronto to suggest that this was going to be a banger of a show. To start, the A$AP crew had very little experience with a live crowd and - what we did know - was that they had a predilection to beating up sound guys
. Plus, given that presumed assault charge, I didn't have the most supreme confidence that Rakim Mayers and the crew would even be getting into the country to begin with. But they did. And from there, they certainly maximized their time in front of a hyperactive Canadian crowd.
ASAP Rocky - Celebration [Unreleased] (04:22)
It doesn’t take a very wild imagination to conjure up the A$AP set list in your head. Dude played ‘Peso’ and ‘Out of This World’ and ‘Purple Swag’ and Drake even came out to perform ‘Cameras’ and ‘The Motto’, for some reason. As an excellent exercise in killing time, Rocky even melted down into an interlude of nostalgia and let Juvenille blare over The Opera House’s dusty sound system. Proselytizing at the crowd for maybe or maybe not knowing the now retro New Orleans rap he was letting knock through the woofers.
What was most surprising was A$AP Rocky’s demanding stage presence. I expected more of an obnoxious rambunctiousness from the miscellaneous members of A$AP, like Twelvy and Nast, who no one seems to know much about, but they (rightly so) let Rocky command the stage. His simple banter between songs made it very clear that not only did he know what he was doing, but that he also was having a fucking really good time. Before crowd surfing, he would half-joke that he needed to take his bracelet off to avoid being robbed, then dove head-first into the audience. He would stop fights in the crowd, immediately dismissing the pointlessness of fighting in public, but then suddenly re-affirm that the assailant was a G. He would address the multiculturalism of the crowd proudly.
Schoolboy Q - Hands On The Wheel (feat. A$ap Rocky) (03:17)
These subtle touches, which are not even standard fare for a seasoned performer, were certainly unexpected. If anything, these are the quirky touches that make A$AP, A$AP. Normally, you would expect a performer to pander to the crowd they’re in and fit all of that into a prescribed live set script, but there was something very organic and improvised about Rocky’s set. Even as it was becoming clear that Rocky was going too long and the venue needed him off, he undramatically proclaimed into the mic that it was “time for the surprise”. Anyone who was even remotely familiar with a Toronto rap show knew what that meant. Drake. Drake in his $5,000 OVO Canada Goose jacket coming out to dance around with his tongue out for a couple songs
. Thanks for coming bro.
Ultimately, with one mixtape and a couple loosies floating around on the blogs, it’s amazing that Rocky is even selling out international shows in the first place. But that’s not what makes his shows great. Despite the mounting rumors that he sucks live, he doesn’t. He’s an energetic and excited performer that may have an unpredictably wild crew behind him, but given the right environment and positive energy, dude is bound to do a very good job at making his already party-friendly songs sound like the loudest and most important jam of the moment. It’s skillful and hard to pinpoint, but it’s absolutely fun to watch.
Lloyd Banks - Make It Stack (feat. A Rocky) (DatPiff Exclusive) (04:44)
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