“Wish You Were Here” are some of the FOMO-inducing words written on Travis Scott’s latest Astroworld tour merch. “I Went to Astroworld and All I Got Was This Fuckin T-Shirt” is further proof fans enjoyed the ride. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new or old fan, the success of Scott’s Astroworld, an album that takes its name from one of the most nostalgia-inducing places in Houston’s recent history, has kicked the hype machine into high gear for its live experience. So when Travis announced in August that he would be bringing Astroworld back to the city, recreating the beloved spirit of the closed-down Six Flags AstroWorld theme park, nobody wanted to miss out on this.
Travis Scott’s first-ever music festival sold out even before the line-up — which included Tommy Genesis, Smokepurpp, Virgil Abloh, Trippie Redd, Metro Boomin, Sheck Wes, Houston All-Stars, Gunna, Young Thug, Rae Sremmurd, Post Malone and Lil Wayne — was even revealed. Some of the proceeds went to Workshop Houston, a creative youth development organization that works with students through after school and summer programs. For thousands who attended on Saturday at NRG Park, it was the moment they’ve waited months for – to see an artist from their city make good on his promise.
In an interview with Rolling Stone last September, Scott talked about the initial concept of Astroworld, where he wanted to have a concert with rides encircling him as he performs. He’s expanded on the idea since, adding two stages—Thrills and Chills—an Astro Dome to play arcade games, lounge, and turn up to Travis Scott songs on loop, a good variety of food vendors, carnival games, and carnival rides—you could even enjoy sets by Gunna and Young Thug while you ride the Ferris wheel or carousel. There was a show of respect for the late DJ Screw, who passed away 18 years ago, by erecting a pop-up Screwed Up Records & Tapes shop on the festival grounds. It was a personal request by Travis, and inside, fans were able to buy Screwed Up Click (S.U.C.) merch and DJ Screw mixtapes.
Scott is a master of curation. Each of his albums have a wealth of unlikely collaborators that gel in his sonic playground that he’s been developing and refining over the years. As a music festival curator, Scott has done surprisingly well, assembling veterans and newcomers alike, to perfection. One of the standout sets was from Smokepurrp, who took the opportunity to bless those who couldn’t be here: “Rest in peace Lil Peep, rest in peace Mac Miller, rest in peace X.”
The Houston All-Stars set was an assembly of H-Town’s living legends, a rarity for any fan regardless of age. Travis’ Astroworld has an underlining appreciation for Mo City – from sampling Lil Keke’s “Peepin in My Window” on “5% Tint” to paying homage to DJ Screw on “R.I.P. Screw.” Although Chamillionaire and Mike Jones didn’t make an appearance, it was incredible to see Bun B, Paul Wall, Slim Thug, Trae Tha Truth, Lil Flip, Lil Keke, and Z-Ro all hit the stage to perform their classics. Travis, who was backstage, must have been enjoying the moment too, asking Lil Keke to perform “The Way We Ball” to his delight.
The last hours until Travis Scott’s headlining performance can be best compared to a rollercoaster inching towards its highest peak before making the big drop. A highlight reel of Virgil Abloh’s Kanye-leaning set with a surprise appearance from Chase B, young Metro going through all his hits, Thugger bringing out Gunna and Trippie Redd, Gunna and Trae Tha Truth performing a new song, Rae Sremmurd popping large champagne bottles for their vivacious set, Post Malone living his rockstar life by smashing his guitar (again), and Weezy looking visibly happy at all the Houston love he got (“Y’all are awesome tonight”) couldn’t end without Scott taking fans for one final ride.
At around 10 p.m., Travis appeared. Well, sort of.
“I am behind you!” he said in autotune, starting off with “Stargazing” and “No Bystanders” as flames exploded from the stage. Scott, who was wearing his own Astroworld tee over a white long sleeve, durable cargo pants, and Jordan Retro 1s, was in front of a circular contraption that looked like a one-man rollercoaster, which he later rode on for his next song, “Carousel.” He threw it back to Days Before Radio with “Mamacita” and “Quintana, Pt. 2” shortly after, bringing the rage levels to a full 10 very quickly.
It didn’t take long for Travis to transfer over to the Chills stage, where he remained for the rest of the night. “We blowin’ every city out the water and that’s by fact,” he told the crowd. “Today is not just a big day for me, it’s not just a big day for Cactus [Jack], but it’s a big day for the state of Texas, for the city of Houston right now.”
If you know Travis’ catalogue by heart, he performed just about every song that made you fall in love with his music in the first place. There was the run with “3500,” “Skyfall,” “Through the Late Night,” and “Drugs You Should Try It.” “We are trying to shake the Astrodome!” he said. There was “90210.” There was “Skeletons,” which he said was his favorite song off the album. There was Swae Lee and Travis harmonizing parts of “R.I.P. Screw” together.
And it didn’t stop at Swae Lee. Travis had more guests. He brought out Nav to perform his verse off “Beibs in the Trap.” Gunna rocked with him for “Yosemite.” Young Thug kept a cool demeanor for “Pick Up the Phone, ” and new Cactus Jack signee Don Toliver, who is also a Houston native, performed “Can’t Say” with him.
At this point, Scott had plenty of people to thank for making Astroworld Festival a reality. He thanked his family in attendance. He thanked his “beautiful wife” Kylie Jenner and his daughter Stormi for being on the road with him. But most importantly, he wanted to thank “the 40,000 people” that was in front of him. “Houston, Texas, y’all so deep right now,” he said, adding special shoutouts to GM of Cactus Jack, David Stromberg, and renowned music agent Cara Lewis.
Then, it was time for another big drop on this Astro rollercoaster. “Sicko Mode.” Even without Drake present, Scott’s parts of the song caused the kind of mayhem you’d anticipate from these diehard La Flame stans. As fireworks lit up the night sky, Travis had some last words.
“Thank you for attending the first ever Astroworld Festival,” he said. “I love y’all so much. I hope you get home safe. Come again soon muthafucka!”
Astroworld, opening again in 2019. That’s one wish we all want to come true.
For more like this, take a look at our photo recap of this year’s Camp Flog Gnaw festival.
- Words: Eric Diep
- Photography: Rahil Ashruff