Academy 1, Manchester
On a sunny Saturday evening the queue for the Academy 1 stretched far along Manchester’s Oxford road, the crowd waited patiently to enter, as vigorous security checks took place on all guests. There was a clear excitement and anticipation in the air, and understandably so, it was A$AP Rocky. A$AP is an artist that over the last year has seen an incredible rise from his Harlem roots to working with friends such as Kendrick Lemar and Danny Brown as well as his album Long Live A$AP achieving a number one in the US charts. For us at Shufsounds we have been a strong supporter of A$AP Rocky for quite some time and his track Goldie was our sound of 2012, so we were as excited as everyone else, as we left the sunshine behind and entered the dark setting of the academy.
A$AP was due on at 9 and after the long queue it meant there was little time to wait. The pre set playlist was comprised of Hip Hops future stars from Kendrick Lamar to Action Bronson, as time ticked by it was clear that A$AP wasn’t too punctual. At 9.30 the music stopped, lights dimmed and the stage came alive. On bound A$AP, a man who was brimming with confidence and although a very simple stage set up had a real draw of amazement as the crowd were captivated by his energy and clear passion. The second song he played was Wild for the Night, his current single, a collaboration with Skrillex, although somewhat questionable in terms of respectability, the song worked really well as a live track which successfully raised the crowd to new levels as people surged forward in an attempt to get a better glimpse of the energetic A$AP. His set consisted of tracks from his album and mid set as the energy was tailing off, he played Goldie. As a track it epitomises the recent hip hop resurgence, modern and fresh without forgetting the hip hop routes of the 90’s. The song at times was drowned out by A$AP’s shouts and the reciprocal shouts of approval from the crowd.
Throughout the set he was accompanied on stage by two other artists who worked to hype the crowd and carry on where A$AP left off, when he frequently jumped off stage to run to the barriers to crowd surf. Although this worked well in terms of maintaining a flow and continued energy at times it did mean that the songs themselves were compromised slightly in favour of shouts and occasional improvisation. However, this didn’t take anything away from A$AP and his music and the crowd were more than happy to embrace the wild nature of the gig. Closing his set was the massive hip hop collaboration hit of Fuckin Problems, A$AP performed his versus and rather than playing the other versus a trap beat was played, although he did join in to perform the chorus, which had the 2000 strong crowd shouting back word for word.
This mini tour of the UK has truly cemented A$AP as one of the biggest Hip Hop artists around. His popularity in a crowd who all loved their Hip Hop was impressive. The performance was wild, at times not polished, but this added to the energy and excitement of it, and confirmed that he is the real deal and an artist that is only going to grow in statue and popularity. After the set was finished the chants of A-SAP carried on, a sign of appreciation and amazement of what they had just experienced.
Words: Adam Gardiner