Fans clad in “Astroworld” gear milled around the United Center (1901 W. Madison St.) Dec. 6 amid vape and special effects smoke impatiently awaiting Travis Scott’s emergence. The general admission section was packed to the brim with eager concertgoers shooting panoramic views of the scene, boast-worthy material of the highly-anticipated event.
The “ASTROWORLD: Wish You Were Here” tour kicked off Nov. 9 in Baltimore, following the release of Houston-native rapper Travis Scott’s third studio album, “ASTROWORLD.” The critically acclaimed album dropped in August and was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, even receiving a perfect score from New Musical Express (NME). NME is an online British music journalism publication.
The album gets its name from the now-defunct Houston Six Flags amusement park. After being torn following the park’s closing, Scott began to fill the void with music, according to XXL Magazine. His sorrows translated to a psychedelic trap album, one which is arguably his best work to date.
Scott reached superstardom with little to no help from his beauty mogul, reality TV star girlfriend, Kylie Jenner. Jenner joined Scott on tour along with their daughter, Stormi. Much to her fans’ pleasure, Jenner made appearances at several shows, including at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, where she rode the roller coaster with Scott and documented her experience on YouTube.
On the Chicago date of the tour, opening artists Gunna and Sheck Wes kicked off the night, whetting concertgoers’ appetite with their epic sets, but they still left Travis Scott enthusiasts yearning for his music.
“In the middle of Texas is a world called Astroworld” was amplified over the speakers as Scott’s signature auto-tuned voice singing “STARGAZING” emerged from the silence. With all eyes on the main stage — there were two, one on each end of the arena — Scott surfaced on the smaller stage. The hoards of people in general admission rushed to the stage with phones in hand and voices screaming as loud as possible.
The United Center was transformed in tribute to the amusement park. A makeshift, functioning roller coaster wrapped around the auditorium, along with a Ferris wheel-like ride, both of which the rapper rode while performing.
Futuristic graphics graced the screens around the stages depicting children being torn away from each other, a woman tattooing herself, a female robot and a myriad of trippy, hallucinatory graphics — all in line with the album’s aura.
Disappearing from the smaller stage to re-emerge on the main stage, Scott sang fan-favorite songs from his latest album including “BUTTERFLY EFFECT,” “STARGAZING” and “STOP TRYING TO BE GOD.” “NO BYSTANDERS,” the same phrase plastered on a lot of the “ASTROWORLD” merchandise, was also on the set list, and the audience danced with no avail. With each song, concertgoers grew exponentially rowdier — jackets, shirts and water bottles flew across the floor.
Scott made sure to appeal to a wide range of fans and sung songs such as “90210” and “Antidote” from his debut album, “Rodeo.” The artist also performed his part of the collaborative piece with SZA, “Love Galore,” to which audiences belted along. At the end of the day, “ASTROWORLD” might be the rapper’s most popular and preeminent album, but he owes a good amount of his success to preceding albums.
Scott’s disc jockey and long-time friend Chase B supported Scott’s vocals with background lyrics. Scott paused between sets to make casual conversation with his DJ, and they’d decide which songs to play as if they didn’t create the set list in advance. Their interactions revealed a humble side of Scott, also evident in his sincerity when thanking fans for propelling “SICKO MODE” to No. 1 song on Billboard’s Hot 100.
The lit concert began winding down almost two hours after its start. It likely left the majority of audiences beyond satisfied with their evening, despite Scott’s decision not to perform an encore — the audience didn’t scream for one. Scott thanked Chicago for an incredible night and departed in what seemed like an abrupt manner. Minutes prior to the concert ending, the inflatable head seen on the “ASTROWORLD” album cover appeared at the opposite stage giving some the impression Scott would re-emerge, but he never did …
… until he returns with another tour — fans can only hope.
Travis Scott’s music is available on all streaming platforms.