ASAP Rocky is a hip-hop and cultural mainstay. Ever since releasing his debut album in 2013, Rocky has consistently been leading the genre in new and interesting directions. Beyond music, Rocky is well known for pushing the boundary in fashion, declaring himself as “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye.”
In 2018, Rocky released his third studio album “Testing.” As the name suggests, this was Rocky’s most experimental album to date, with bass-heavy rap verses to soothing R&B songs to trippy, genre-fluid tracks. Although I personally loved the album, this experimentalism ended up being Rocky’s lowest selling album to date. This unfortunately resulted in a low turnout to his “Injured Generation” tour stop in Philadelphia Jan. 15.
I arrived to the Liacouras Center right as Rocky’s opener, Comethazine, took the stage. I was seated up in the stands, and I was surprised at how empty the venue was. There was a tight ring around the stage on the floor, but most of the lower and upper levels of the venue were empty. Comethazine energetically bounced around the stage performing his songs, dancing along to them rather than actually rapping to them. He performed in front of a massive glowing green skull projected onto a screen behind him for about fifteen minutes before hopping off stage.
About half an hour later, the lights turned off and an announcer told the audience to pay attention to the directions. Two people dressed as crash dummies took the stage holding signs reading “smile” and “mosh” among other things. They soon left as Rocky emerged from beneath the stage, wearing a test dummy mask. He beat two drum barrels on the stage as confetti shot into the air. He ran through a series of hits in a matter of minutes, like “Praise the Lord (Da Shine)” and “Yamborghini High,” an ode to the late ASAP Mob founder ASAP Yams, who passed away in 2015. After getting the crowd riled up, Rocky told his DJ to play “Babushka,” an unreleased track. The song was bombastic and uniquely Rocky, but as it played he wandered off stage, and a curtain fell over the stage.
During this time, I noticed that while the venue had filled up considerably, there was still quite a bit of empty space. The upper sections were mostly bare, and there was still a large amount of empty space on the floor. To be fair, the Liacouras Center is a massive space with a capacity of 20,000 people, but this openness brought a sense of awkwardness to a truly spectacular performance.
The curtain dropped, and three cars began to descend from the ceiling. Rocky was standing on the middle vehicle and the cars began to lower and raise, shining bright lights into the crowd. He then went back to the stage and ran through some of the more upbeat tracks from “Testing.” Rocky rapped to his songs “Tony Tone” and “Gunz and Butter” while being flanked by fire and confetti. I felt a pang of anxiety every time Rocky bounced around underneath a hanging car.
The concert felt more like an awards show where Rocky was the winner of every award. A cameraman followed him throughout the concert, filming him as he lounged on his car crooning to “CALLDROPS.” A camera zoomed over the audience and directly over Rocky as he laid on the stage and seductively performed his sleeper hit “LSD” from his second album “At.Long.Last.ASAP.”
The concert closed with some of Rocky’s biggest hits. He played the Skrillex-produced track “Wild For The Night” as well as “F**kin’ Problems,” his breakout hit. Rocky announced he had to leave the stage soon, and asked the audience what they wanted to hear. Cries for “Peso” rang out, and the rapper closed out the night with the track from his first mixtape. The entire crowd bounced around and sang along to a free song that isn’t even on any major streaming sites, showing how big of an impact Rocky has made. After such an impressive performance, Rocky’s next stop in Philly will surely be much more packed.