In just a couple of weeks, Harlem wunderkind A$AP Rocky will embark as the opener on Rihanna’s global Diamonds tour, but last night, he held down a markedly smaller affair for Scion’s Open Mic concert series, which went down at the small, 400-capacity Public Assembly in Brooklyn. (The show was part of an ongoing run that has also brought out the likes of Danny Brown, Action Bronson, and Trinidad James in the past year.)
Considering his career trajectory — the $3 million record contract, LongLiveA$AP opening at No. 1, the ascent of “F—-n’ Problems” — it was probably the smallest venue he’ll play in a while, and it showed in the long line that waited in near-freezing temperatures for his midnight appearance.
But anyone hoping for a preview of what Rocky’s planning for his big Diamonds gig probably didn’t find what they were looking for at Public Assembly. In the past year, Rocky’s become a festival mainstay, and his sets have ranged from rowdy throwdowns to solid but unexciting cameo-filled performances. Last night was somewhere in between those two points.
There was some friendly drink-throwing, and as usual, Rocky was there with a not-small crew — mainly his A$AP Mob buddies. (A$AP Ferg was one of the openers, and A$APs Twelvy, Nast and more made appearances throughout the night.) But a raucous, overcrowded room tends to work in the rapper’s favor: As charismatic as Rocky’s persona is, his stage presence tends to be on the weak side, with his slick flow often turning into a loud bark. The Public Assembly show was no exception. (Also not cooperating: the in-house spotlight tech, who did not respond to Rocky’s repeated mood-setting request for purple lights. Be more helpful, light guy!)
Ultimately, though, the audience — a packed collection of rapheads, lucky Instragrammers, and New Era enthusiasts — was more than willing to fill in the blanks, shouting along to Rocky’s impressive catalog of spacey jams (“Fashion Killa,” “Peso”) and radio bangers (“Goldie,” one-third of “F—-n’ Problems”). Rocky’s call-and-responses were met with enthusiasm levels ranging from Moderately High to Siberian Comet High, and he got pretty much everyone to move at some point in the night.
But a small gathering of streetwise superfans is one thing. How Rocky will be able to convert his show into a stadium-set, Rihanna-worthy experience remains to be seen. For a taste of last night’s show, check out the video below: