Los Angeles Times

Quiet comeback at Rolling Loud festival

Travis Scott’s return is cut short by sound issue 16 months after Astroworld disaster.


As comebacks go, it was dark, noisy — and brief.

Thirty-seven minutes into Travis Scott’s headlining performanc­e Saturday night at this weekend’s Rolling Loud California festival, his sound abruptly cut out in the middle of his signature song, “Sicko Mode.”

People close to the main stage (and its monitors) could still hear him, kind of, as could those watching the festival’s popular livestream, which is why Scott finished “Sicko Mode” and did a bit of his hit “Goosebumps” before walking offstage.

But to most of the tens of thousands at Rolling Loud, which took place on the grounds of Hollywood Park next to Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium, the 31-yearold rapper known for his raucous sound and rowdy presentati­on had suddenly become a guy jumping around in virtual silence.

“I wish I could do more, but they’re making me go,” Scott said as he left — one way to describe a hard 11 p.m. curfew he surely knew was looming when he began his set nearly half an hour behind schedule.

It was a somewhat def lating end to what was supposed to be Scott’s first fullscale U.S. concert since his ill-fated Astroworld festival in Houston in late 2021, when a crowd crush killed 10 people and injured hundreds more.

Scott, for whom whipping up audiences is a crucial part of his act, but who has insisted that he was unaware that spectators were in trouble at Astroworld, is named in multiple lawsuits related to the deaths, which led to a congressio­nal investigat­ion of concert promoter Live Nation.

After being shunned by many in the music industry, including being reportedly booted from Coachella’s 2022 lineup, Scott has been

slowly inching his way back to the A-list status he once enjoyed, though he hasn’t made it easy for himself.

Just last week, a sound engineer at a nightclub in New York alleged that Scott assaulted him during a DJ gig and wrecked $12,000 worth of equipment. (Scott’s lawyer called the incident a “misunderst­anding” and said he’s “confident that Travis will be vindicated once all is said and done.”)

Still, in Rolling Loud — widely referred to as the world’s biggest hip-hop festival, with events in a growing number of cities and countries — Scott has found an eager partner for his return. This year, he’s booked to headline Rolling Loud shows in Portugal, Germany and Thailand; according to Variety, the company paid Scott between $1.6 million and $1.8 million for Saturday’s performanc­e in L.A.

Held Friday to Sunday in what amounted to SoFi’s parking lot, Rolling Loud California also featured Playboi Carti, Kodak Black, Trippie Redd, Lil Baby and Tyga, among dozens of acts; Lil Wayne brought out Nicki Minaj for an unannounce­d appearance Saturday, while Don Toliver surprised fans during his set with a cameo by Justin Bieber.

Like all Rolling Loud events, the festival sought to capture the experience of hip-hop as lived by its youngest fans, those for whom the genre’s watchwords include “rage,” “mosh” and “lit.”

Scott in their eyes is something of a pioneer, having released his major-label debut eight years ago — an eternity in rap time. (The MC’s most recent LP, “Astroworld,” came out in 2018; lately, he’s been teasing the upcoming release of a follow-up to be called “Utopia.”) And here he seemed gratified to reclaim his role as king of the pit, even if he stopped short of exhorting the crowd toward the kind of wild behavior he used to demand.

Dressed in dark clothes and a ball cap, his eyes hidden behind a futuristic-looking mask, Scott yowled through songs like “Highest in the Room,” “Stargazing” and “Butterfly Effect,” his heavily processed vocals slithering over throbbing trap beats draped in bleary synth textures. The low stage lighting and a hardworkin­g smoke machine gave the show a vaguely apocalypti­c feel only heightened by pyrotechni­cs that occasional­ly sent columns of fire shooting into the sky.

Short as it was, the performanc­e was effective in that it demonstrat­ed the state of a valuable brand unchanged by controvers­y. But it also reminded you that hip-hop, which has never moved faster than it does right now, was evolving during Scott’s time away.

Playing the headliner’s slot on Friday night, 26-yearold Playboi Carti — whose own set was temporaril­y halted by Rolling Loud organizers after fans reportedly jumped over a barricade — pushed the aggrorap sound that predominat­es at Rolling Loud to a kind of gothic nü-metal extreme, screaming almost unintellig­ibly as an electric guitarist ripped frantic yet weirdly elegant solos. Compared with Carti’s genuinely freaky performanc­e, Scott’s felt almost old-fashioned.

 ?? Vincent Madero Rolling Loud ?? RAPPER Travis Scott takes to the stage in Inglewood. His performanc­e was cut short by sound issues.
Vincent Madero Rolling Loud RAPPER Travis Scott takes to the stage in Inglewood. His performanc­e was cut short by sound issues.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States