Forgive me, for I have been absent. This juggling routine of mine is going to take some getting used to. That’s besides the point though. I risked my life two weeks back, and despite some mere flesh wounds, I have risen like the phoenix amidst a mound of ashes. Remember that rodeo I was telling you about a while back? The one headlined by G.O.O.D. Music’s demonic H-Town “loner turned rockstar” Travi$ Scott? Well Scotty La Flame and his equally skeletal counterparts Young Thug and Metro Boomin’ finally rolled through Philly after they trounced Webster Hall in NYC. The La Flame Twitter waves blew up that night… All I saw on my timeline were videos of kids going apeshit in the pit while Travi$ pogo sticked from one side of the stage to the other. Dude turns into a psycho when he goes out there, and even though I’m a big guy, I knew I would have to buck up to avoid extreme bloodshed, or worse, a shitty spot in a sea of stans.
Aside from fleeting relevancy, the tardiness of this review has its advantages, as my two week post-Rodeo hiatus has allowed me to fully comprehend what it is that I actually went through that night. You know that feeling you get after any kick-ass concert when you finally breach the venue doors and make it back into reality? You know, that “Holy shit my ears can finally relax, and I don’t feel like I’m being sexually violated by upwards of twenty people at once,” feeling? That’s the one. La Flame took that feeling threw that shit out the window. My post-Rodeo high lasted abnormally longer than any other concert experience I’ve ever had, but that was cool with me.
Despite being drenched in sweat merely 8 hours prior, I rocked my Rodeo Tour tee to the grocery store the next day. I didn’t care that there were visible salt stains crystallizing around the cowboy graphic, or that the collar was stretched to the point that my crew morphed into a deep V. I felt it necessary to bask in my calcified crustiness. I wanted to ride the La Flame train as long as possible, regardless of whether or not I smelled like BO’s walking poster child. To understand my Rodeo experience though, we’ve got to start from much earlier in the day.
To be honest, the morning of the Rodeo was much less glorious than the evening it preceded. I housed an entire Sicilian pizza the night before. Not that I need an excuse to slam an entire pie, but I chalked it up as “carbing-up” for the grueling workout that La Flame would incite inside of the Troc — a cramped, nostalgic venue nestled in Philly’s Chinatown. When I awoke that Saturday morning though, I immediately felt the horrific realization that is eater’s remorse. I wasn’t letting that shit get in my way though, I had a concert to wreck. Pardon me, we, had a concert to wreck. No way in hell was I going into Travi$’ terror dome alone; I had fellow Motioneer Ben Rappaport with me, as well as two other buddies of ours. At 5’7, 140 pounds, I’m pretty sure I was Ben’s size by the time I reached 7th grade, but I knew he had the balls to outlast the raunchiest of rages. This was the Rodeo though — a far cry from the PARTYNEXTDOOR concert we attended the week earlier.
With the alien out of my stomach, I mustered up the masculinity to hit the gym with my boy Mark prior to University of Delaware’s St. Paddy’s day festivities. We spent a good hour or so crushing shoulders (a decision my
arms selfie-stick regretted later while filming), and I did my best to convince Mark to join our Rodeo clan. Efforts proved futile, but in discussing the show with him, it dawned on me that I needed to use the opportunity to flex my Guerrilla marketing muscle. I’ve got a brand to build, and what better place to spread it than a G.O.O.D. Music concert?
Training sesh behind us, Mark and I set out in search of bands of blank business cards. Yeah, that was my ingenious idea (baby steps, right?). We were gonna make it rain inside The Troc tonight. Hopping from one bar to the next on Main St., I had no idea where I was going to magically come across a fat stack of cards, but as fate would have it, FedEx came through in the clutch (what else is new?). Entertaining as skiing through a slalom of drunk Blue Hens may be, my tunnel vision went through the roof as soon as I set my eyes on that FedEx Office. It was a god-send as far as I was concerned. I know for a fact that the dude working the place thought I was a weirdo, coming in and demanding fat stacks of white paper.
“How can I help you, bro?”
“Blank business cards… You guys got any?”
“Nah. I mean I could cut some card stock for you if that’s cool though. It’ll be a clean cut.”
“Yeah, yeah, that’ll work… It won’t take long, will it?”
“Nah, like five minutes tops. How many you need?”
“10 bands. 50 bands. 100 bands. Fuck it, man. Let’s just not even discuss it, man.”
That’s how it went down, word for word. I deemed him the “savior of my day” on my way out the door, and with a healthy wad and two Sharpies tucked, I was ready to rage. Aside from the CuDi concert I hit up my sophomore year of college, I’ve never been first in line for a show, but we were going to do our best to ensure that we were in the trenches. We set out for Philly as early as possible, but by the time we found the least-shadiest parking option, there was already a healthy line forming outside the Troc. The four of us posted up at the end of the line, and with the venue doors merely 50-60 yards from us, we stood in the cold Philly rain, awaiting the fateful moment when the doors would finally open and we could enter the Rodeo.
Anybody can tell you that one of the best things about a concert is the people you meet. Excruciating as it may be, waiting in line isn’t so bad when you’re surrounded by a bunch of people that are as endeared to an artist as you are. Our wait in a steady rain was alleviated partially by the conversations we struck up with the two guys behind us. Our group of four quickly changed into six after a few minutes of La Flame worshipping/Sixers roasting, and I felt much better about our chances to escape the Rodeo alive with our new found friends armed for battle.
The doors to the Rodeo finally opened around 7:30, and after having stood within a five foot radius for upwards of two hours, my adrenaline instantly started pumping as soon as I saw the uncomfortable pat downs commence in the distance. I had all of my stuff out of my pockets and ready to roll by the time I reached the front. After a brief one-over, the Rodeo became real. As quickly as my standom rose, however, it came crashing back down twice as fast when we realized we had been waiting in the VIP line the entire time.
“Name please… Name please… Name please…”
What the hell were we gonna do? I tried to think of the most convincing made up name possible (I settled on Dan Smith), because I didn’t want to admit to myself that there was no possible way we were getting in for this meet and greet that was apparently happening. Luckily, we weren’t the only ones that made the mistake, and word quickly spread to the staff that there were a whole bunch of La Flame fans jogging their brains for generic names. I closed my eyes, focused up, and quietly began to pray to the rap gods for deliverance from this bullshit.
I could literally see Travi$ through the glass doors leading into the venue. So close! To the back of the line, they said. We weren’t going down like that though. We played it dumb, and loitered outside the venue around the corner. The second the general admission line was granted permission to enter, we sprinted towards the doors. I got the pat down one mo ‘gain, gave the chick at the ticket booth the Nori, and it was on.
Yo, I kid you not, as soon as I put my Rodeo Tour tee on, I felt like fucking
Peeta Katniss in that bitch. All concern for human life was eradicated from my conscience, and I was fully prepared to put the team on my back to get to the front. By the time we got inside the venue and snagged our tour tees though, the rail was out of reach. We settled on a spot on the far left side of the stage, about fifteen feet away from the rail. A tad bit butt hurt, I spent the next forty-five minutes or so chopping it up with the homies, and silently devising a plan to reach the rail. I knew once the show started all hell would break loose, so my plan was to basically Willie Roaf my way to the front. I rocked in high school football (wanna check tape? ***I promise this isn’t my highlight tape), so I knew if I really wanted to, I’d have my way bulldozing those very important pussies.
Having pegged about twenty random people with balled up business cards in the crowd, we were starting to get reckless. Right on cue, the lights dimmed, and Metro appeared atop the fifteen foot video screen located in the center of the stage. Truth be told I really have no idea what the hell he said when he came out. Probably that generic “Y’all ready for the Rodeo Tour?” bs. All I know is he kicked his set off with “Energy,” and what was a tightly packed crowd evolved into a waaaaaaave full… You get the point. The wave turned into a tsunami though, cause Metro followed Drizzy’s album intro with the Yeezy Season anthem “All Day.”
Not that I expected him to, But Metro showed absolutely no remorse for anyone riding the wave, because he followed up Yeezy’s banger with another Drizzy track — this time it was “Know Yourself.” Trapped in the turn-up, I saw my opportunity to make a move. As soon as the beat dropped, Ben and I began our pursuit of the holy rail. By the time Metro’s set was over and Thug came out, we were in the middle of the venue, about ten feet from the stage. Progress.
For an artist relatively new to the touring circuit, Thugger exhibited some solid stage steez. He did his best Little Red Riding Hood impression, coming out and sipping from four separate double cups, until the last mix appeared to be juuuuust right. By no stretch of the imagination am I a huge Young Thug fan, but I’ve got to admit that dude got the crowd into it. And while I’m still a little disappointed he and Metro didn’t bring down the house with my guilty pleasure “Speed Racer,” I was raging with the rest of them when he performed “About the Money.” With four or five songs under his belt, Thugger subdued the appetites of his admirers, and he exited stage right.
Having burrowed another five feet closer to the stage, Ben and I thought we would have a solid 5-10 minutes to regain our composer, but that’s not how The Rodeo works apparently. With the stage cloaked in all black, La Flame waltzed onto the stage in full on Bape camo, auto-tune mic in hand. As soon as he hit a “Yeeeeeeaaaaaaaahhhhhhh,” people lost their shit, but that paled in comparison to the full on onslaught that occurred when he launched straight into “Quintana.”
I got a face full of dreads from the dude in front of me as soon as La Flame launched into action, but I bought in with the rest of the crowd, exhibiting next to no fucks whatsoever. The Rodeo was probably the first concert I’ve ever been to where I didn’t have some dweeb behind me complaining about how tall I am. Within the first five minutes of La Flame’s set, I had officially lost Ben, but honestly that’s because I was too busy multi-tasking between stiff-arming bitches, chucking business cards on stage, and trying not to drop my iPhone.
La Flame certainly lived up to his moniker, straight napalming everything in his path. “I wanna see you motherfuckers on a thousand!” he screamed before launching into “Uptown,” my personal favorite song of the night. With one hand on my phone and one hand on my d*ck, I certainly felt like a motha fuckin’ monster. Willingly pitted within the mosh, finding footing on the Troc floor was like blindly stabbing for the light switch in the dark. Sure, some people were sacrificed to the Rodeo gods, but for the most part the crowd traveled as a single unit. I didn’t even have to jump — squished into one sweaty mass, we went up as one, and we came down as one. Halfway through “Uptown” I was offering some dude next to me five bucks for a bottle of water. I instantly regretted not getting my coat checked, but by the graces of god we had ridden the wave all the way to the far right of the stage — a nice spot to set up shop and snag a breather from all the madness.
For the rest of the night, Travi$ and Thugger traded off between one another, performing a few songs at a time before conceding to the other. Thug made sure to perform “Lifestyle,” and he commanded the crowd’s attention throughout his set. True fans were mouthing every word, and Thugger was feeling the vibe. Deciding to put the cherry on top, he brought out Birdman, to mixed reviews. I was steady yelling “Walk into my label like where the check tho,” but Baby won me over as soon as “What Happened to That Boy” dropped. He followed it up with “Leather so Soft,” and I half expected Weezy to come out so the two could kiss and make up.
While Travi$ and Thug both had their own individual moments, the Rodeo’s pinnacle was reached when the two joined forces to perform “Skyfall,” “Nothin’ But Net,” and the crowd favorite, “Mamacita.”
“Who wants to be La Flame’s bull?” Travi$ asked as he partitioned the middle of the crowd into a circular mosh. I didn’t believe him when he said no one would go down over the course of the song, and I’m pretty sure he tried to turn it up to the point where he would surely contradict himself. The La Flame energy burned at it’s brightest during “Mamacita,” as he and Thug fed off one another, to much approval from the crowd, though everyone was begging for life support at that point.
Nestled in the corner drenched with sweat, I was finally able to relocate Ben, and for the latter portion of the night we were able to survey the madness. What a shit show. It became commonplace seeing the security guards pick up one unlucky Rodeo-goer after the next as they either crowd surfed to the front, or got straight up tossed over the rail with reckless abandon. The crowd took Travi$’ command of “There are no bystanders, you motherfuckers,” to heart. La Flame took every pre-conceived notion you could ever have about a hip-hop concert and absolutely torched it. We weren’t at a hip-hop show though — we were at the fucking Rodeo, and I’m just glad we made it out alive.
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