A$AP Rocky Goes Wild for the Night at NRG Arena

A$AP Rocky at NRG Arena
A$AP Rocky at NRG Arena Photo by David "Odiwams" Wright

“During the show you will be given commands. You must obey these commands. Next, we will demonstrate,” instructed a voice at the top of ASAP Rocky’s NRG Arena concert last night. The voice’s instructions included smile, frown, applaud, and most importantly – mosh pit. The young crowd of ready-to-rage twenty-somethings obliged each command. And boy do they love to mosh pit. When he took the stage donning a ski mask and resembling a car crash dummy, hordes of seated audience members rushed the floor, jumping gates and barreling through security for their chance to rave on Rocky's command.

Hell bent on turning his Houston audience into reckless, riotous, rip-roaring test subjects, ASAP Rocky stormed the stage with a blazing combo of “A$AP Forever,” “Buckshot,” and “Praise the Lord” from his
newest album Testing. Planted at the B-Stage, a giant smiley face reminiscent of Dazed and Confused, Rocky kept to his calculated approach to an expertly paced concert with ASAP Mob cuts "Telephone Calls" and "Yamborghini High," before finally ditching the ski mask at the end of "Multiply."

When he revealed his sharp, fierce, barely bothered face, the 30-year-old rapper looked at home in his Injured Generation Tour testing ground, a stylized blend of performance art and the modern arena rap production.

"Gunz N Butter" and "OG Beeper" saw Rocky fearlessly fly high above the stage, perched on the hood of one of three suspended Hot Wheels-esque cars. As flames flanked the stage and images of clouds backed the high flying showman, NRG Arena felt like the inside of one of Rocky's visually loaded music videos. The camera crane was always in sight; the cameraman never far off.

click to enlarge A$AP Rocky at NRG Arena last night. - PHOTO BY DAVID "ODIWAMS" WRIGHT
A$AP Rocky at NRG Arena last night.
Photo by David "Odiwams" Wright

Perhaps the most cinematic, immersive moment of the night came during "Calldrops," which Rocky performed from the car's driver seat with the cameraman capturing every fogged, hazed, hot-boxed moment outside of Rocky's window while Rocky's face draped the stage's screen to invite the audience into the more vulnerable, introspective corners of his catalog.

Set highlight and crowd favorite "LSD" played out like an intricate MTV VMA's performance. Rocky layed flat on that B-stage smiley face as camera work and psychedelic visuals melded to emulate a high the recently sober rapper might be fairly familiar with. Despite the continued  healthy stretch of mid tempo, introverted, conscious cuts like "Kids Turned Out Fine," and "Everyday," the set's energy never suffered for it.

After ordering the crowd to open up the mosh pit, Rocky relit the scorching fire from the show's start with the Skrillex-assisted "Wild for the Night." Though the kids moshed and raged all night, they peaked here, turning NRG Arena's floor into an ocean of a ruckus. Amidst the chaos, a yellow-hoodied kid found himself onstage looking just as much a star as Rocky before stage diving back into the throngs of test subjects.

Rounding out the night with a well received "Fuckin' Problems," "Long Live A$AP," and a guest appearance from Lil Keke, Rocky left the stage with no more commands for the crowd, knowing that, as the song suggests, the kids turned out fine.

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