Travis Scott isn’t headlining Life Is Beautiful 2018 but it feels like he could be. In the past few months, his fame has risen to an astronomic level, thanks mostly to his exquisite ‘Astroworld’ album – the rap album of the year. But, despite the huge crowd watching him, he has to make do with headlining the second biggest stage while Florence + The Machine closes out day two of the Las Vegas festival on the main stage. As she twirls and spins, and conducts her audience like she’s controlling the winds, Scott goes for an entirely different approach – to go full beast mode.
He begins with ‘Stargazing’, introducing the song with a menacing thunderclap and a row of flames. “Las Vegas, make some motherfucking noise,” he instructs for the first time, repeating that command when he stops the song in the middle. At that break, he shakes his jacket off his arms and goes wild as the beat comes back in. The big screens either side of the stage and those on DJ Chase B’s riser show Scott as he races around the stage, arms flailing above his head, but through a murky haze that makes it feel like you’re entering a mind-altering state.
After ‘Mamacita’, he pauses that explain no gunshot effects will be used in the show tonight “out of respect for what happened last year.” “Before we continue, I’d like to give my condolences to the families who suffered on October 1,” he says. “Las Vegas is a great city and it’s an honour to come out here and play for you.” It’s a touching moment that’s full of respect and another reason to add to the already long list of why Scott is a great leader for rap’s new guard.
Normal service resumes with a slew of covers, including Young Thug’s ‘4AM’ and Trippie Red’s ‘Dark Knight Dummo’, and some of Scott’s best songs. Before ‘Butterfly Effect’, he says, “I wanna take it up a level”, but goes several further than that. Fireworks shoot into the sky from behind the stage and the New York rapper, stood on the edge of Chase B’s decks, is suddenly floating several feet in the air as they take off from the ground.
Back at a normal height, Scott shows more respect as he gets the audience to put their phone lights in the air for a quiet moment. “Mac Miller, I love you/Always be my boy,” he freestyles through Auto-Tune, the effect making it sound even more tender and heartfelt than it would have otherwise.
Everything about Scott’s performance is impressive, even before closer and set highlight ‘Sicko Mode’ arrives. But when it does, everything is elevated to giddy new heights. The rapper leaves the stage and runs through a gap in the two sections of the crowd to a tiny platform overlooking the very thick of the action. Before he can get on with wrapping things up, he’s got a message for his fans for how to deal with “motherfucking haters” and whatever life throws at them: “Go sicko mode on a motherfucker.”
Fireworks stream into the sky for the whole of the track as the audience lets loose for one last time and Scott bounces on his mini stage like a chaos-starting king. It’s a triumphant end to a headline-worthy set, one that’s full of positivity and joy, as well as a whole ton of talent. We’ll be waiting for him on the main stage next year.
Travis Scott played:
‘Dark Knight Dummo’
‘Through The Late Night’
‘Pick Up The Phone’