Trillwaukee: A$AP Mob Invades Milwaukee

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Friday night, Milwaukee welcomed A$AP Mob, Danny Brown and Schoolboy Q to local hot-spot venue, The Rave. The show was extremely energetic, keeping the crowd very alive for the three and a half hours that was the show’s run time. All of the good moments I experienced at the show, were equally matched by negative aspects that bothered me the entire night.

First things first, I hate the Rave. The doors were scheduled to open at 7, so I got down to the building at 4:50. I know it’s a little much, but I really wanted a front row spot. The first problem starts here; instead of having a line start at the door, they chose to have it start at the staircase adjacent to the doors about twenty feet. When they decided everyone could come in, they just flagged the start of the line, which produced a huge crowd of people running to get in one door. People who got there at six got in before I did making my waiting pointless.

The second problem starts here; when we get in the building, they split the group into two lines for admission, the thing is only one lady was actually checking tickets. I luckily found my way up to the front of the second line, giving me a 5th person spot at a third doorway. I am now waiting another hour to get into the ballroom.

The third problem; I somehow got skipped by a member of the student body, not naming names, but you know who you are. At seven, they opened the doors to the ballroom, inciting another problem.

The fourth problem; “you really aren’t trying to fit a thousand people in this little ballroom, are you?” I asked this question to myself after making my way to the railing, not directly center but a little off to the left. At this point it clicked to me, “this isn’t going to be civilized, it’s going to get crazy.” The ballroom is now full and it is 7:45, Danny Brown will take the stage in 15 minutes.

Danny Brown’s set was a definite argument starter when it comes to who had the best set out of the three acts. Although it seems like Danny Brown really just popped up last year with his almost flawless mixtape, XXX, the truth is The Hybrid has been around for a while. Widely acclaimed and noted for his switch in tones while rapping, Brown has been an underground favorite for years now.

This was something evident to me, but obviously not for a majority of the crowd. Brown appeared on the stage wearing complete black, with his skinny jeans tucked into a pair of what appeared to be rainboots, his leather jacket stayed on for about 30 minutes of his 40-minute set. His flat-ironed Skrillex hair-do just as iconic as it is in any picture I’ve seen of him. Accompanied by hype-man Dopehead, Brown was greeted with cheers from few (including myself), and a lot of raised eyebrows, which I assume came out of concern for his appearance. Brown ripped through standout cuts from the XXX mixtape, which really “turnt up” his loyal fanbase in attendance. Brown made very little interaction with crowd in terms of speaking, which can be seen as a negative or positive, but in this case a definite plus. When you are only allotted 40 minutes, play as much as you can, which he did playing through 10 songs. The only problem with Brown’s set came from, you guessed it, The Rave staff. Brown’s mic was hardly audible over his fizzled beats, because the sound guy did the most minimal job of checking equipment. Other than this major fault, Brown’s set was perfect.

My next problem deserves a paragraph of its own. The crowd was being out of line the entire night. During Brown’s set, he only received cheers and applause from his fans, while everyone else stayed silent. I get it you either haven’t heard of or like Danny Brown, but let’s give the man applause for his efforts. It seemed highly rude, which was also the feeling reflected from Brown’s face as he picked up his jacket and walked off of the stage. This ties in right here.

During the layover before Schoolboy Q’s set, the sound systems were blasting classic rap tracks, causing the crowd to literally fly off the handle pushing itself from one side of the ballroom to the other for the remainder of the night. This seemed very disrespectful to me, seeing that Brown just completed a set met with little applause, but the building starts playing the hottest rap tracks and the crowd goes insane? (What is that?!?!?) The behavior exhibited by the crowd, I know sounds like any other Rap concert, but it was distracting everyone from the purpose of the gathering. It even went as far as to incite fight between one fan right behind me and another man. After the turmoil,

Schoolboy Q took to the stage.
Schoolboy Q got the crowd extremely hyped up. Q released his debut this year, Habits & Contradictions, on Top Dawg Entertainment, that’s right he’s a label mate with Kendrick Lamar. Q appeared on stage shorter than I imagined, seeing that the man brags about his larger than life lifestyle in his music, sporting a pair of 60’s Mod circle-shades and a San Francisco 49’s Mitchell & Ness jacket. He also rocked a pair of leopard-print Adidas Superstars, which were a conversation piece for many. Q played a very energetic set, but seemed more preoccupied with the blunt he was continuously toying with the entire set. He played through 8 songs, including “A.D.H.D.” from Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80 mixtape. He also advised the crowd to pick up the album the day it drops about 20 times. His set was highly enjoyable, he closed with a song choice from the crowd, knowing that everyone would say “Hands On the Wheel”, he advised the crowd he could play the duet with A$AP Rocky later, accompanied by LiveLoveA$AP highlight, Brand New Guy, or at the moment.

The crowd cheered for the option of later, meaning that Q should of played a different song but forgot, inciting the sound system to play Chief Keef street-hit “I Don’t Like.” The crowd got even more insane, causing Q to rap to the track. After the track cutoff, Q was gone.

A$AP Rocky made quite the entrance. A$AP Rocky is a young Harlem MC visibly influenced by Southern Rap like UGK and Master P. His 2011 release, LiveLoveA$AP, won over critics, some saying he is the future of Rap music in general. I agree. The MC’s backdrop was a painting reminiscent of Apocalypse Now, showing helicopters riding into a sunset, with a close-up on soldiers hoisting up an upside-down black and white American flag. I found it odd that a rapper whose career is based off of what type of shoes he wears and what is in his Styrofoam cup would throw such a political statement at us. The voiceover preceding his entrance made it stranger. “Everything we do has meaning, but I can’t explain.” A sentence that did not tie anything we saw on stage together. After the voiceover cutoff, A$AP entered the stage.

Accompanied by two figures wearing gasmasks and camouflage jackets, Rocky began spitting rhymes like a madman. After the first track, I hopped the railing, because the crowd was too much for me and the sound system was sizzling so much, I couldn’t comprehend anything coming out of the speakers. Post-hop, the A$AP mob was jumping around the stage, similar to the Wu-Tang Clan, everyone armed with a microphone. Maybe the political statement wasn’t so political, just simply stating that A$AP works like a democracy, showcasing everyone’s voice. And they did. Heavily reliant on tracks from the Lords Never Worry mixtape, I was a bit turned off. I expected to hear some new tracks from A$AP Rocky’s highly anticipated debut album. I did receive new tracks, but all of which I had already heard. “Pretty Flacko” went over well, but that was one of two new tracks played at the set, “Goldie” being the other, it was played second to last. Danny Brown made his way back on stage for the remix of “Coke and White B*****s”, creating a definite highlight for A$AP’s set. A few songs later, Schoolboy Q made his way on stage as promised. The two ripped through extremely hyped up versions of “Brand New Guy” and “Hands On the Wheel”. After an hour of stage-diving and water throwing, A$AP announced that it was time for the last track. The entire group of a dozen people on stage gave us an energetic version of “Peso” that left the crowd with raised eyebrows and open jaws, mine included.

One thing I found disappointing in the set was the amount of theatrics. If you are an up-and-coming rapper, play as many songs as you can. Don’t leave the stage continuously, leaving the crowd with voiceovers talking about how we need to destroy things to get our voice heard. It took up about a third of the performance that could have been dedicated to performing new material. Although the theatrics were disappointing, the performance itself set a high standard. When the crowd is pumped up, the performer feeds off of the energy, which was displayed Friday night for sure. If the MC ever comes back to Milwaukee, you should definitely make your way to one of his shows, you won’t be disappointed unless it is held at the Rave.