Travis Scott cancelled. Fetty Wap pulled out. Some people would say it had been a bad year for hip-hop at Reading. Those people didn’t see A$AP Rocky’s set.
Coming onto the stage decorated with a pile of giant inflatable £50 notes plus a blow-up butterly and scorpion pinned to the backdrop, A$AP oozes confidence. ‘Long Live A$AP’ causes chaos all the way to the sound tower, and escalates as he chants “mosh pit, mosh pit, mosh pit”. The crowd obliges, and A$AP counts off each pit to the sounds of gunshots from his giant PA system. “Ten mosh pits, did y’all record that?” he says with a grin that reveals the gold and diamond grills on his teeth.
Mid-set he begins an a capella rendition of ‘Fuckin’ Problems’, before the beat crashes in and the thousands watching him lose it for what seems like the hundredth time. He isn’t done with them yet, demanding more people crowd-surf before shouting “Y’all tired already?” in disbelief.
He needn’t worry, as ‘Every Day’ sparks more mayhem. A$AP finishes by reminding us where he’s from: “New York, Harlem to be particular”. A long way for one performance, but god it was worth it.
Originally published as part of NME/University of Reading’s Reading Festival coverage at: http://readinglive.nme.com/