About 4 a.m. Sunday, Travis Scott stood atop a speaker on stage at Miami’s E11even nightclub. “I’m sorry no one can be higher than me,” the 31-year-old rapper yelled at the sold-out crowd that had gathered in the two-story venue.
As dry ice and dollar bills rained down on him and his fans, Scott launched his hit song, “Highest in the Room,” as part of a 45-minute set that marked his first public appearance since the Astroworld tragedy in November.
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Seven months have passed since 10 people died, another 25 were hospitalized and more than 300 concertgoers were treated for injuries caused by hundreds of Scott fans storming onto the stage at the rappers festival in his hometown of Houston. In the aftermath, Scott faced a wave of negative criticism for continuing his performance, even as officials announced a high-profile casualty event as well as a series of lawsuits from victims and attendees blaming him and the Astroworld organizers. of the deadly disaster.
Even with the controversy still raging around him, Scott didn’t hold back at E11even, giving an enthusiastic performance to an audience of dozens of revelers paying $300 a pop to see his first public show since November.
Reece Brown, a 26-year-old Scott superfan, joined a large crowd of people who queued for over an hour to get in before the rapper took the stage. Scott headlined a celebration this weekend that was loosely tied to the Miami Grand Prix Formula One race. A doorman said the general admission was $300 for men and $200 for women. If anyone wanted to cut the line, it would require another $200 in cash, the doorman said. It was a dazzling mark-up, as presale tickets started to cost $50 online.
“Travis Scott usually costs half a million dollars to perform at your venue,” the doorman explained. “And he hasn’t performed in seven months, so this is something we’ve been looking forward to for a long time. We pre-sold all our tables. Reservations tonight averaged $50,000.”
About a dozen people ducked out, but Brown didn’t blink at the three-digit entrance fee. “I’ll pay $1,000 if I have to,” he said. “There’s a 25 percent chance he won’t show up, but if he does, it’ll be worth it. I am a huge Travis Scott fan.”
No one should blame Scott for what happened in Astroworld, Brown said. “When you’re on stage with all those lights in your face, you can’t see what’s going on in the crowd,” Brown rationalized. “Even if 500 people were to fall over, there’s no way to see that.”
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The more than 380 lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in damages against Scott, Live Nation, Contemporary Services Corp., Apple and others allege otherwise. Combined into a master case, the complaints allege that the influx of crowds during Scott’s performance at Astroworld was preventable and the festival was planned and organized negligently.
Scott has also built a reputation for challenging fans at his concerts, including promoting fleeting moshpits and encouraging his enthusiasts to jump off balconies. At Lollapalooza in 2015, Scott urged fans to climb over concert barricades, prompting them to chant, “We Want Anger.” When officers tried to arrest him for inciting the mob, Scott fled. He then pleaded guilty to reckless and disorderly conduct.
Scott, for his part, denied knowing how terrible and deadly the mass influx was when he interviewed Charlamagne Tha God in December. “It really took up to minutes until the press conference” [after the show] that I found out what happened,” Scott said at the time.
Recently, Scott has slowly returned to the limelight, appearing at a pre-Oscars party in March, where video captured him rapping and DJing. He also reportedly performed five songs from a DJ booth at an afterparty during the first weekend of Coachella last month. And Scott has just booked his first headlining festival set since Astroworld: he will perform at Primavera Sound in São Paulo, Brazil, one day after the first anniversary of the Astroworld tragedy.
At E11even Scott showed some of the raw energy his fans feed, but no one did. By the time he took the stage shortly after 3:30 am, E11even was at maximum capacity. The hybrid nightclub and adult cabaret can accommodate approximately 500 people. Club-goers and strippers filled the dance floor and VIP tables as Scott marched out in an oversized t-shirt, blue jeans and white-and-red Air Jordan sneakers.
“Everybody owes me a chance,” Scott shouted into a microphone. “We need every stripper to report to the damn stage now. We need to report every bottle on this fucking floor. At club E11even, that ass better shake.”
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He then ripped his verses from Young Thug’s “Bubbly,” which he followed up with a raw rendition of his classic hit “Antidote.” Halfway through the set, rapper Quavo jumped on stage to perform their song “Pick Up The Phone.”
When Quavo dropped the verse, “Birds in the Trap Sing Brian McKnight,” Scott gestured with the wings of his hands and danced around his compatriot. He clearly enjoyed being back on the podium. And the audience reacted accordingly, rapping along to every song.
The exotic dancers of E11even gathered around the main stage where they clapped their cheeks and took turns climbing the pole as Scott closed the night with “Goosebumps” and “SICKOMODE”.
And luckily no one was trampled.
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