Throughout the first day of Treasure Island Music Festival’s return to the Bay Area, A$AP Rocky’s set loomed over the rest of the performers like an admonishing raincloud. Like Treasure Island, the rapper took a long hiatus from music. Aside from the collaborative Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends and Vol. 2: Too Cozy with A$AP Mob, he took a three-year break between albums AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP and TESTING.
This meant both A$AP Rocky and Treasure Island had to prove their relevance to their Bay Area audience. Both were being scrutinized, and in trademark fashion, A$AP Rocky eclipsed every other performer to create a fully immersive experience with his headlining show.
Rapping in front of an enormous dummy head, flanked by trippy, psychedelic visuals mixed with live feeds shown on huge screens, A$AP Rocky kept up an unwavering, commanding energy level as he moved through his newest material. From the saxophone-assisted “Praise the Lord (Da Shine)” to the smoke machines synced up to the drums in “Buck Shots” to the acapella intro to “Fukk Sleep,” A$AP Rocky introduced a new, much-needed dimension to songs from the dense, divisive TESTING.
The fairweather festival crowd received A$AP Rocky’s new material surprisingly well, singing, jumping and moshing along to futuristic trap songs and melodic laid-back cuts alike. A few homages to Berkeley native Lil B and A$AP-predecessor Three 6 Mafia later, A$AP Rocky moved through his biggest hits to close out the show.
By the show’s end, neither the crowd nor its Marvin the Martian shirt-wearing emcee showed a sign of fatigue. A$AP Rocky constantly praised the crowd for its vibrant reception. This moment for the rapper and festival alike made perfect sense — it was vicarious, unique performance art that we all needed to experience in order to properly understand what A$AP Rocky’s vision truly was.
Justin Sidhu covers music. Contact him at [email protected].