by MIKE CHAIKEN
Popular music long has been accompanied by a whiff of danger.
Even when youngsters danced the jitterbug to the clarinet musings Glenn Miller in the 1940s, the “respectable” folks of the 1930s reeled back in horror.
The allure of danger shot through the 1950s as Elvis swung his hips to the 1960s when Jim Morrison told us we couldn’t get much “higher” to the 1970s when Johnny Rotten said the queen was no human being and so on.
In 2019, at the Mohegan Sun Arena, rapper A$AP Rocky mined the allure of “danger” throughout the night.
The danger lurked in his tunes.
The danger also was represented by the sound effects of guns being cocked and shots ringing out.
But, A$AP also exhibited danger by flouting the rules for better or worse the conventions of overseeing and structuring a headlining arena show.
What well-known artist, whose face is instantly recognizable to fans, would spend the first portion of an arena show hiding his face beneath a crash test dummy mask?
Or what artist would perform an entire song “L$D” ‑lying on his back on the floor with his physical self being visible only to the first few rows of fans?
And there were several times where A$AP awkwardly halted the flow of the show with costume changes and set changes, offering up silence or darkness rather than a band vamping or dancers dancing.
These are not the actions of someone who blindly follows the rules. This is an artist flirting with show biz danger.
It wasn’t as if A$AP Rocky was afraid of the fan’s attention. Many times throughout the night, he stood triumphantly like a king gazing down at the sold out gathering of his minions.
At one point, however, the danger could have been physical.
There was one moment when A$AP asked, then urged, and finally demanded the crowd on the general admission floor to launch into a mosh pit. When the pit finally began in earnest, a few fans leapt out of their assigned seats and dashed past security to join in. A few interlopers were subsequently tackled by the staff.
A$AP observed the confrontations and told security to let everyone down to the floor. Suddenly, a jubilant and determined mob rushed, stomped, and stumbled down the stairs to floor the floor.
It was mass chaos.
No one seemed to be hurt where I sat but I can’t say the same for the rest of the arena.
It was a dangerous mob moment that could have turned tragic.
A$AP has the tunes. He has the flow. He has the beats. He has the charisma.
He also has the ambition (not many artists would perform atop a car hovering 100 feet above the stage).
And it all stood front and center in the Mohegan Sun Arena on Jan. 18.
There’s no denying A$AP Rocky deserves to be a star. And fans clearly loved the Injured Generation tour. However, right now, his talent for “crafting” a 90 minute show that ebbs and flows (and not in the rap sense) is still a work in progress. A$AP Rock may need another tour or two before he transitions to the showmanship level of a Jay Z, Kanye, or Eminem.
I give A$AP Rocky at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Jan. 18 3 out of 4 stars.