Rambunctious Rocky riles up Congress Theater

A$AP Rocky played the Congress Theatre October 11 with Danny Brown and ScHoolBoy Q.

Helicopter sound effects, operatic scales and the strumming of a harp underlined A$AP Rocky’s cracked voice as he opened his Oct. 11 show in the dimmed Congress Theater, telling the audience, “Welcome to my world.”

Rocky appeared onstage 56 minutes after his scheduled set time. Donning a bright orange ski mask, he greeted the rowdy crowd apologetically.

“We started late due to some technical difficulties … but I’m here nonetheless, so get ready for a crazy show.”

Crazy may have been an understatement. By the end of the show, Rocky’s rap collective, A$AP Mob, was recklessly leaping around the venue while security chased audience members around as if they were working a poorly run day care.

A$AP Rocky, who hails from New York, refers to himself most often as “that Pretty Mother F—-r,” and raps that the “only thing bigger than my ego is my mirror,” in his single “Wassup.” But Rocky has justifiable success to back up such confidence. With a $3 million record deal with RCA Records and continual radio airplay after the success of his pioneering mixtape, “LongLiveA$AP,” he proves to be one of the most successful members of his collective. He performed at this summer’s Pitchfork Music Festival, appeared as a guest rapper during Rihanna’s performance of her hit single “Cockiness (Love it)” at MTV’s Video Music Awards and was nominated for six BET awards, including “Best New Artist.” His first studio album, “LiveLoveA$AP,” is set to drop Oct. 31.

Though transfixing productions make him one of today’s most prominent hip-hop innovators, his raps are mainly about women, weed or women with weed. That said, A$AP’s concept for the LongLiveA$AP tour may have been overreaching. The stage backdrop displayed the famous World War II photograph “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima,” except the flag was both upside down and black and white.

“The flags represent the battle,” A$AP said in between songs, as if to justify a school art project. “A battle because we’re misunderstood … but we ain’t fighting this battle alone!”

Throughout their set, the A$AP Mob waved a physical representation of the black and white flag as they needlessly skipped around the stage. Rocky didn’t fully connect with the audience at times and became distracted when the A$AP Mob joined him onstage.

Alternative rappers Danny Brown and ScHoolboy Q were the rousing opening acts. Although the three artists vary greatly in hip-hop style, the mixture of different performance types showed that new-generation rap has a bright future.

Brown, a whimsical up-and-comer from Detroit, began his segment—which proved to be the night’s best set—as the crowd was filing in. He played tracks from his most popular album “XXX,” which was named 2011’s “Best Hip-Hop Album Of The Year” by SPIN magazine. The early evening’s energy was pumped up by the crowd pleasers “Blunt After Blunt” and “Bruiser Brigade.” However, the venue’s poor sound mixing completely undermined some of Brown’s signature techno production and gritty, futuristic additives.

Brown’s enthusiastic stage presence kept the audience fully engaged despite the lo-fi sound. His large tongue pushed through a toothless grin, hanging on his chin in between verses while his lanky arms flailed around raucously. Brown’s goofy face paired with his asymmetrical perm kept the audience cheering while he boasted about his looks in “The Black Brad Pitt.”

ScHoolboy Q followed Brown, and although his music is more introspective, he played upbeat crowd pleasers such as “Nightmare on Figg St.” and “There He Go.” Though equally as captivating as Brown, ScHoolboy Q kept obnoxiously interrupting the flow of his set by sitting down for intermittent chats with his disc jockey after each song to ask the audience what he should play next or how well he was performing.

Rocky’s performance was most enticing once his Mob left the stage. He performed a few tracks from his acclaimed “LiveLoveA$AP.” “Wassup,” “Purple Swag” and the best performance in his set, “Brand New Guy” with ScHoolboy Q, established his solo talent despite a set cut short by the venue’s 10 p.m. curfew.

As rowdy as they may be A$AP Mob ensured a peaceful show. Immediately after egging the crowd on with their famous track “Coke and White Bitches,” the lights went dim as A$AP asked the audience to pray. The Mob then gawkishly clarified they love “all types of bitches, no matter if you white, black or purple.” Bizarrely enough, the crowd appreciated the group’s attempt to mix equal parts hipster and hood fans.

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