Over the weekend, A$AP Rocky performed at Real Street Festival in Anaheim, California. The headlining set marked his first show since his release from Sweden after getting arrested and appearing in court to testify for an alleged assault that took place in June. The verdict will be determined on August 14.
Highsnobiety sent photographer Cristian Ruelas to document the entire experience and find out what it was like to be there to catch Rocky's return to the stage alongside Tyler, the Creator, A$AP Ferg, and YG. In the words of Rocky, "Hip-hop never looked so strong together.” Scroll down to read Ruelas' reflection on the events that transpired that evening:
"A growing buzz could be felt in Anaheim throughout the Real Street Festival grounds as A$AP Rocky’s performance approached. A large white canvas draping over the stage blankets the inner workings of the event that's about to unravel. As fans continue to pile in, the growing buzz now turns into a tightly packed crowd of restless fans anticipating the performance they have been waiting for all weekend. 'A$AP' chants fill the air as thousands of fans now wait for the main event, and 'Fuck Sweden' chants start to break as the lighting begins to settle.
A brief silence in the anxious crowd is suddenly overpowered by Rocky’s voice rapping 'Forever' while a silhouette of the Harlem rapper is projected on the canvas. The music cuts a second time and the draping sheets flow to the floor. Rocky emerges in a custom Prada fit embossed with flames and Testing logos paired with a custom test dummy mask hiding his face. He is surrounded by his entourage, also wearing face masks, stepping to the forefront of his gang performing as passionately as ever.
Between his third and fourth song, Rocky pauses before saying, 'Man, I wish Tyler was here,' allowing a brief moment to pass as 'Who Dat Boy' drops and Tyler, the Creator takes the stage. As they go back and forth on the track, the energy in the crowd elevates to yet another level, with fans moshing, singing, and getting jiggy with the dynamic duo. Amidst all the madness, Rocky breaks the music to address his joy and happiness derived from the humbling situation that took place in Sweden and thanks everyone for the support that was shown.
'Y’all know how happy I am to be here right now, I wanna say this, though. When I was away what I experienced was crazy,' he says. 'It was a scary, humbling experience but I’m here right now. God is good. People who ain’t even fuck with me felt sympathy. People was praying for me, that uplifted me when my spirits was low. I can’t thank y’all enough, man, that was crazy. Hip-hop never looked so strong together.'
After this moment of reflection, the party continues as he and Tyler perform 'Earfquake.' From there, he proceeds to bring out a slew of homies including the mob’s very own A$AP Ferg and Compton’s YG. Rocky’s set, accompanied by visuals and instruction videos on how to mosh only elevated his performance, pushing the limits of excitement. Whether you were an artist at the festival or a fan enjoying the music, there was no doubt that A$AP Rocky’s performance, stage presence, and ability to hook Harlem’s finest up with West Coast superstars created the perfect welcome home atmosphere for the rapper."