Travis Scott's Fiserv Forum show was the wildest hip-hop spectacle Milwaukee's ever seen
The last time Jay-Z played a Milwaukee arena, he opened for 50 Cent. When Eminem was at the Bradley Center in 2000, his most recent Milwaukee show, he shared the bill with Limp Bizkit.
It's been 16 years — an eternity in rap time — since a major hip-hop tour played a Milwaukee arena. But the dry spell finally ended in spectacular fashion Friday night at Fiserv Forum with Travis Scott's "Wish You Were Here" tour.
Time will tell if Scott's accomplishments come anywhere close to reaching Jay-Z and Eminem's legacies. But he's no Limp Bizkit, that's for sure.
And in terms of putting on an explosive live show, he's one of the best in the game, giving his fans at a sold-out Fiserv Forum the ultimate thrill ride.
In a few cases, literally.
Scott's touring behind last year's blockbuster album "Astroworld," named after a defunct amusement park in his native Houston, and he really ran with that theme Friday. A few minutes after kicking off his 75-minute set with "Astroworld" song "Stargazing," the first of a handful of lucky fans got to strap themselves in a ride that completed a 360-degree loop in the arena.
The ride was right behind a secondary stage in the back of the arena, where Scott spent the first 20 minutes of his show. But the concert really kicked into high gear when he relocated to the primary stage for back-to-back bangers "Butterfly Effect," "No Bystanders" and "Don't Play."
Scott is certainly tamer than he was in his raucous up-and-coming days, when he even got arrested after encouraging fans to storm the stage during his set at Lollapalooza. But all the pyro — deliriously over the top, even by arena spectacle standards — and Scott's stage command were fair substitutes (much to the relief, no doubt, of the show's security personnel).
Even an intense performer like Scott had to pump the brakes a little bit, but he didn't lose the crowd during a mellower middle section, thanks to the brisk pace between songs and some engaging staging, including live video projected on two giant rectangular curtains that dropped from the ceiling.
There was even one fleeting moment that alluded to the creativity and nuance found on "Astroworld," during "Stop Trying to Be God." As Scott stood still, a white light in the shape of a cross projected over his heart, and his Auto-Tune-drenched voice conveyed for the first time Friday some actual depth and feeling.
The show became a wild roller-coaster ride yet again soon after, with Scott and a fan actually riding a roller coaster suspended about 30 feet over the mob of fans who filled the floor, as Scott performed "Can't Say" and "Antidote."
Scott returned to terra firma and allowed two other fans to cruise on the coaster during "Goosebumps." Then came the main heart-pumping attraction with the biggest hit of his career, the throbbing "Astroworld" single "Sicko Mode," complemented by more fire, an explosion of confetti and animated kids projectile-vomiting on the big screen.
With Scott packing Fiserv Forum, and with hip-hop now the most consumed music genre in the country, it's safe to say we won't have to wait another 16 years for a major hip-hop arena show in Milwaukee.
But whatever comes through next will have a tough time topping the eye-popping production of this one.
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An unfortunate opener
Fun as Scott was Friday, the show was also a depressing reminder that the #MeToo movement still hasn't had a seismic effect on the music industry.
Rapper Sheck Wes opened for Scott at Fiserv Forum, after a restraining order reportedly was issued last week preventing him from being within 100 yards of his ex-girlfriend, singer Justine Skye. Skye on Twitter Feb. 11 alleged that Wes "beat women" and called him "my abuser."
Wes responded on Twitter saying, "I never hit or beat any women," and he has not been charged with a crime. Nevertheless, these are serious and disturbing allegations that Scott's team essentially ignored by keeping Wes on the bill.
- Scott's Milwaukee show was supposed to take place Dec. 9 but was postponed due to production issues. It was for the best; the arena was likely more crowded on a Friday night than it would have been on a Sunday in December, and Scott's become a bigger star since then following his recent Super Bowl and Grammy appearances.
- Practically everyone at the show Friday was in their teens and 20s, but it was the most diverse crowd Fiserv Forum has had at a concert so far, which was very cool to see.
- Despite the show's thrill-a-second style, Scott briefly put the show on pause to offer some lessons for the kids, seemingly delivered from the heart if the "ums" and awkward pauses were any indication. "Try to stay close to your real friends," Scott said. "Always put God first and family first. Never let nobody shatter your dreams."
- The moment Scott's set started, a pungent odor of weed filled the tunnel I was waiting in before photographers were permitted to take some pictures. A couple of minutes later, a Fiserv Forum employee came through and practically emptied an entire can of air freshener.
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See the Travis Scott show? What did you think? Contact Piet at (414) 223-5162 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @pietlevy or Facebook at facebook.com/PietLevyMJS.
Piet also talks concerts, local music and more on "TAP'd In" with Jordan Lee. Hear it at 8 a.m. Thursdays on WYMS-FM (88.9), or wherever you get your podcasts.