Words: Nathan Marshall
Long Live A$AP Rocky! Traditionally shouted at a king. For A$AP, opening for Rihanna last night at the Rexall in front of 18 thousand screaming 14 year old girls felt more like the royal jester opening for the queen.
The stage was set up with a white throne that A$AP bounced in and out of as he ripped through allot of the material from Long, Live, A$AP. The crowd was primarily loaded with screaming RiRi fans but went wild when he dropped radio hits like “Goldie” “Fashion Killa” and “Fuckin’ Problems” (sans Drake, Kendrick and 2 Chainz). A$AP played his part of opener well.
Cue the DJ filling in between performance sets who wasted no time in spinning the latest meme sensation Harlem Shake and the Youtube generation wasted no time in reminding us that they make up 95 percent of the 40+ million online viewership. In unison they restrained their dancing and body movements all the way up until the bass line hit and instantly Rexall was turned into a massive arena sized night club filled with kids too young to know what the inside of a night club looks like.
Rihanna came out over an hour past her scheduled set time, which didn’t seem to bother her curfew breaking audience and delivered hit after hit after hit after hit. I actually had forgot how many hits she had but every song performed by the Island Def Jam pop princess seemed recognizable.
Shortly into her set she performed a nice little Damian Marley laced rasta breakdown reminding everyone of her Caribbean roots. Reminiscent of the 2013 Grammy Marley tribute she was apart of alongside Bruno Mars & Sting. A perfectly set up segway into the pop infused dancehall anthem “Rude Boy” which set the crowd on fire. I couldn’t help but picture a red, yellow and green clad Chris Brown back stage with his diamond swinging in the sky.
She didn’t perform any direct Bob Marely covers in the rasta portion of her set but did follow it with a Dubstep cover of Genuiene’s 96′ r&b classic, “Pony”. And no Dubstep “Pony” Rihanna cover would be complete without knee high white leather boot wearing RiRi dancing with Michael Jackson blasting pyro explosions in the background. Sadly, I was in the small percentage of concert attendees that could recite the lyrics of that cover so to conceal my age I kept my lip syncing to a minimum.
One thing that kind of shocked me is how many F-bombs RiRi dropped in between songs, “fucking epic” this and “fucking amazing” that. I lost count after Umbrella-ella-ella but I think she was up to about 7 half way through her set. I was taken aback because her songs usually have strong sexual undertones but do not have a ton of profanity. Maybe she was just hitting too much A$AP Rocky on her iPod that week and her inner gangster rapper had taking over.
Rihanna screamed “Put your diamonds up for All of the Lights” over the refreshing blasted horn hooked Kanye + Ri collab radio hit. Kanye sadly was not there to help her deliver the track but she did a good job of performing it on her own.
The night got a little weird when the background graphics turned super morbid. Images flashed of 70′s – 80′s classic slasher flicks spliced with a repeating image of a crazy Rihanna holding up a chainsaw and fake blood splattering everywhere. Not sure about the creative direction for that part of the show but if they were going to attempt hyper-violence they should have called in experts Rodriguez and Tarantino. That all said I get it, she had a really publicized rocky relationship and was probably just working out her “Fuckin’ Problems”.
I should really cut her some slack and mention she did address a bit of the media relationship drama when she introduced her new song “This is off my new album, Unapologetic [What Now]. It’s about being really fucking confused about love”.
My bad, I guess I miscounted. There was an 8th F-bomb.