Let it be said, let it be spoken: Travis Scott not only created mad, tense energy on his craggy rock-formation-designed stage during the Wells Fargo Center stop on his 2023 Circus Maximus Tour. The lanky Scott—more often than not dressed like a soccer star on Venus, with his future-forward shoulder pads and ragged-edge board shorts—egged on a sold-out crowd to forge its own brand of frenzy during his long set. This was the sort of mania that drove post-teen men to take off their shirts as soon as Scott started in with the primeval thundering drums of “Hyaena,” the plucky “Thank God” and the throbbing “Modern Jam” (with a bass line so deeply loud that it felt as if your heart would come out of your mouth) and not put them on again, even when confronted by the Nor’easter winds at the end of the show.
Surrounded by more fire, explosions and flash pots than Kiss’ stage finale the week prior, Scott was a barking, howling, frenetic verbalist during the night’s many ragers (including the ascending drums of “Meltdown” and the five-in-a-row assault of “Fe!n” and its insistently nagging, thousand-accordions sound), yet could turn tender on a dime when it came to the quietly alluring “Goosebumps,” “Lose” and “God’s Country.”
Scott is often accused of being an Auto-Tuned Kanye West acolyte (it didn’t help that charge when Scott did Ye’s hammering “Praise God”), but when he stripped his voice of effects, as he did on churchy thumpers such as “A-Team” and “Sirens,” Scott’s raw vocals made for a menacingly cackling—and unique—joy to behold. If Kanye ever makes any kind of comeback, he’ll have the high bar of Travis Scott to leap over first.
For a lone wolf, Scott was awesomely proactive and playful with his fleeting few guests, as well as his interactions with the audience. When he wasn’t busy strapping excited fans into a flying, pulley-maintained rock (with a face, yet) that floated high above the stage, he was rap-jousting with opening act Teezo Touchdown during “Modern Jam” and Philly’s own Lil Uzi Vert during the latter’s anthemic “Aye.”
Ultimately, by the close of the show, the one thing Scott proved was that he was a master of punk-rock theatricality with a genius finale. Starting the ominously melodic “Telekinesis” onstage, Scott continued the track (and its filming) off stage, into the Wells Fargo’s basement and through the dressing rooms where the Sixers and Flyers suit up. And had it not been storming outside, I bet Scott would’ve finished his song in the parking lot.
—A.D. Amorosi; photos by Jeremiah F Kane IV