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Performative Mastery: Travis Scott's "UTOPIA" visits TD Garden

On the 12th of January Travis Scott returned to Boston for his second appearance at TD Garden. The show was his 38th in the string of cities on the “Circus Maximus” tour. 8 shows still remained before the tour’s close. Scott performed like it was his last appearance on a stage.


Photo of Travis Scott performing "UTOPIA" during the "Circus Maximus" tour
Photo by Simone Joyner

Immediately upon entering the stadium on that Friday night, it was clear the audience would be embarking on an event, an immersive experience. The rocky stage setup was designed to weave above the floor, and allowed every section of the stadium a clear view of the performer. Audibly, there was only buzzing, murmurs, and shuffling; the sounds of anticipation. 


DJ Chase B opened the show. He played a few known bangers to warm up the crowd, but the event truly began with the introduction of a special guest. At first it was difficult to tell, but with the infamous opening line to “GANG GANG”, it clicked. We suddenly found ourselves in the stands of a Sheck Wes set. Having listened to Sheck Wes for a substantial period from 2017 to 2018, the gravity of these songs came rushing back. “Gmail”, “Losing My Mind”, and “Live Sheck Wes” were performed with raw energy and overwhelming nostalgia. Hearing the crowd recite “Mo Bamba” in simultaneity ignited the fire and set the tone for the frenzy to come. 


After Sheck Wes left the stage the buzzing, murmurs, and shuffling picked back up, but didn’t stay long. The initial fluorescent lighting had relit the seating and floor, but kept the stage shrouded and dark. After some time, right as the crowd seemed perfectly settled, the overhead fixtures dimmed, neon hues flooded the stage, and a roar erupted throughout TD Garden. The crowd’s energy was palpable. Repeating over the speakers was a woman’s voice:


“Greetings from Utopia, before the show starts, open that **** up”


The vocal sample from Utopia’s intro “HYENA” soon followed, and at the beat’s drop Travis shot up from under the stage straight into the performance. His entrance was paired with the flashing of spotlights, flames flaring through the air, and literal fireworks shooting up into the arena. 


“BOSTON, MAKE SOME NOISE!”


Immediately the place was alive. Scott followed with a few more songs from Utopia, including “THANK GOD”, “MODERN JAM”, and “SIRENS”. With every track the energy grew. Continuing on he played some classics. “sdp interlude”, “3500”, and “BUTTERFLY EFFECT” were among the first several songs performed. The whole venue seemed to be bumping up and down. Eventually the woman’s voice returned with a simple statement. 


“We need to select someone”


Suddenly a skull shaped platform began to lower down from the ceiling. It was a ride. Throughout the next couple of songs viewers were selected to “ride the parasail”. Scott’s audience engagement was unmatched, and the intensity he brought just continued to expand.


Travis Scott jumping while performing track "FEIN"
Live Performance of Track "FE!N"

Among the show’s standout moments, a few songs stood out and made an enduring impression on the audience. “Nightcrawler,” a fan favorite, unexpectedly stole the spotlight with its low pulsations and fire alarm-esque beat, creating a captivating and thrilling surprise. Another surge of excitement and nostalgia swept through the crowd with the performance of the track “90210.”


However, the pinnacle of the night for me was the live rendition of “MY EYES.” The gradual transformation of the song, evolving from an emotional, slow, airy vibe to a lively, magnetic, and electric soundscape, felt tailor-made for the live experience. 


The 27th track of the night was the highly anticipated collaboration with Playboi Carti, “FE!N”. It was also the 35th. Scott played “FE!N” nine times, each time more lively than the last. Between every play Travis found a random audience member, asked them a little about themselves, why they were there, and ended every interaction with,


“THEY’RE FE!NING FOR MORE”


The show closed with classics including “SICKO MODE,” “Antidote,” and “goosebumps”. At his second show in TD Garden, Travis Scott proved once again why he stands among the elite in live performances. With an impressive repertoire of 38 songs, he maintained an unparalleled level of energy and showmanship, captivating the audience until the very end. The night concluded on an otherworldly note as Scott, amid the lingering echoes of “TELEKINESIS,” gracefully walked off stage, leaving an electrified crowd in his wake.


Travis Scott’s ability to seamlessly blend classics with new hits showcased his versatility as a performer, ensuring an unforgettable experience for fans. As rumors swirl about a potential post-tour album, the anticipation for more musical brilliance continues to linger in the air. In the realm of live performances, Travis Scott undeniably reigns supreme, leaving Boston with a night that will resonate in the memories of all who bore witness to this musical spectacle.


References

Renshaw, David. “Travis Scott Adds Dates to His Utopia - Circus Maximus Tour.” The FADER, The FADER, 1 Sept. 2023, www.thefader.com/2023/09/01/travis-scott-adds-dates-to-his-utopia--circus-maximus-tour.


“Travis Scott Circus Maximus Tour (Utopia Boston MA).” YouTube, YouTube, 14 Jan. 2024, www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6fveOTsyi0.



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