A$AP Rocky and company showed the sold-out crowd at Upstate Concert Hall on Saturday night just why the A$AP Mob is at the forefront of new hip-hop music.
On a day off from opening Rihanna's Diamonds World Tour, the Harlem rapper, with some help from fellow A$AP Mob members A$AP Ferg and A$AP Twelvy, turned in a short 45-minute set brimming with intensity and heavy on hits from Rocky's just-released solo debut "Long.Live.A$AP" and previous A$AP Mob mixtapes. Despite a late start — the trio didn't hit the stage until after 10 p.m. — the energy from both audience and performers never lagged, hitting some dizzying heights throughout the jam-packed evening.
The man of the hour hit the stage alone to start after a long wait, but immediately got down to the task at hand, furiously spitting out a verse of the anthemic "Long Live A$AP" before requesting that the lights go purple for the set (referencing "Purple Swag" of course). "Wassup" followed, by means of welcome, with Rocky setting the swaggering tone for the rest of the evening.
Ferg and Twelvy's entrance only pushed up the energy even more (and filled the stage a little better than just Rocky and the DJ table). The three ran around the stage like mad men on "Jodye," chanting "swag" over and over as audience members gleefully pumped their fists in the air. Ferocious versions of "Angels" and "Pretty Flacko" followed, with the trio spitting rhymes almost faster than the DJ could spin the beats.
This could be the only complaint about the show — while all three rappers were doing their level best to outdo one another, the DJ pretty much coasted the whole evening, simply pumping the familiar beats through the sound system and not offering much interplay with the rest of the group. As a result, the set seemed to lag a bit in the middle, with the pounding music offering little in the way of nuance, detail or variation.
Things picked up on "Wild For the Night," with Rocky furiously spitting rhymes, at times bouncing up and down to release the pent-up energy. "Trilla" continued on a high note — here, the slowed-down groove melded perfectly with Rocky's lackadaisical drawling and braggadocio.
The intimacy of the venue elevated the entire performance even more. Rocky sure seemed to be having fun, at one point mentioning that he forgot he was supposed to be putting on a show. Toward the end of the evening, he even attempted to take some requests before finishing with a particularly volatile version of perhaps his biggest hit, "Peso."
The evening was truly an A$AP Mob affair, as Bodega Bamz opened the show at 9 with a brief set that, if not quite as intense as Rocky's performance an hour later, still managed to brim with energy and power. Best here was the chant-along "P.A.P.I.," with Bamz proudly showing off his Latino roots.