Close to four o’clock in the morning on Sunday, Travis Scott stood atop a speaker on the stage at Miami nightclub E11even. “I’m sorry nobody can be higher than me,” the 31-year-old rapper shouted at the sold out crowd packed into the two-story venue.
As dry ice and dollar bills rained around him and his fans, Scott launched into his hit, “Highest in the Room,” as part of a 45-minute set that marked his first public performance since the Astroworld tragedy in November.
Seven months have passed since 10 people died, 25 more were hospitalized and more than 300 concertgoers were treated for injuries resulting from hundreds of Scott fans surging toward the stage at the rapper’s festival in his hometown of Houston. In the aftermath, Scott faced a wave of negative criticisms for continuing his performance even as officials declared a mass casualty event, as well as an onslaught of lawsuits from victims and attendees blaming him and Astroworld organizers for the deadly calamity.
Even with the controversy still swirling around him, Scott didn’t hold back at E11even, putting in a gusto performance for an audience that included dozens of party goers who paid $300 a pop to catch his first public show since November.
Reece Brown, a 26-year-old Scott super fan, joined a large throng of people who waited in line for more than an hour to get in before the rapper took the stage. Scott headlined a party loosely tied to the Miami Grand Prix Formula One race this weekend. A doorman relayed that 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 an eye-bulging mark-up considering pre-sale tickets online were going for $50.
“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 one is highly anticipated. We pre-sold all our tables. Reservations were averaging $50,000 tonight.”
About a dozen people dipped out, but Brown didn’t blink at the three-figure entry fee. “I’ll pay $1,000 if I have to,” he said. “There’s a 25 percent chance he doesn’t show, but if he does, it’s worth it. I am a huge Travis Scott fan.”
No one should blame Scott for what happened at Astroworld either, Brown said. “When you are 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 fell over, there’s no way to see that.”
The more than 380 lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in damages against Scott, Live Nation, Contemporary Services Corp., Apple, and others, claim otherwise. Combined into a master case, the complaints allege that the crowd surge during Scott’s performance at Astroworld was preventable and that the festival was negligently planned and staged.
Scott has also built a reputation for pushing fans to wild out at his concerts, including promoting volatile mosh pits and encouraging his aficionados to jump from balconies. At Lollapalooza in 2015, Scott egged on fans to climb over concert barricades, which led them to chant, “We want rage.” When cops attempted to arrest him for inciting the crowd, Scott fled. He subsequently pleaded guilty to reckless and disorderly conduct.
For his part, Scott denied knowing how awful and deadly the crowd surge was when he did an interview with Charlamagne Tha God in December. “It wasn’t really until minutes until the press conference [after the show] that I figured out what happened,” Scott said at the time.
Recently, Scott has slowly returned to the limelight, appearing at 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 just booked his first headlining festival set since Astroworld: He is set to perform at Primavera Sound in São Paulo, Brazil, one day after the first anniversary of the Astroworld tragedy.
At E11even, Scott displayed some of the raw energy that his fans feed off, but no one was moshing. By the time he took the stage shortly after 3:30 a.m., E11even was at maximum capacity. The hybrid nightclub and adult cabaret can fit about 500 people. Club goers and strippers packed the dance floor and VIP tables when Scott marched out in an oversized t-shirt, blue jeans and white-and-red Air Jordan sneakers.
“Everybody owes me a shot,” Scott shouted into a microphone. “We need every stripper to report to the fucking stage right now. We need every bottle reported to this motherfucking floor. At club E11even, that ass better shake.”
He then ripped into his verses from Young Thug’s “Bubbly,” which he followed up with a raucous rendition of his classic hit, “Antidote.” Halfway through the set, rapper Quavo jumped on stage so they could perform their track, “Pick Up The Phone.”
When Quavo dropped the verse, “birds in the trap sing Brian McKnight,” Scott made a flapping wings gesture with his hands and danced around his compatriot. He clearly relished being back on stage. And the crowd responded accordingly, rapping along to every song.
E11even’s exotic dancers gathered around the main stage where they clapped their cheeks and took turns climbing the pole as Scott capped the night with “Goosebumps” and “SICKOMODE.”
And thankfully, no one got trampled.