Saturday, Day 2 of the star-studded Rolling Loud California festival, was built on anticipation and surprise. Whisperings about Travis Scott’s return to the U.S. festival circuit filled the Hollywood Park grounds as avid fans camped out to be as close as possible for his set — and any new music from his long-delayed album “Utopia” — while rumors were rife that across the fields, Lil Wayne would bring out Nicki Minaj — which he did, during a set filled with nearly 20 years of hits.
While the festival was packed with A-list talent — Playboi Carti, Future, Lil Baby, Kodak Black, Tippie Redd, Lil Uzi Vert and dozens more — Scott’s set was guaranteed to the the most watched, not just due to his headliner status, but also because it marks his return a major U.S. festival stage for the first time since Astroworld, the Houston festival where, in November 2021, 10 people died and hundreds were injured in a crowd crush as Scott performed his headlining set.
But Scott ended up performing for just half an hour: He took the stage just before 10:30 p.m. (30 minutes) and his sound was cut off abruptly, mid-way through his biggest hit, “Sicko Mode,” at exactly 11 p.m. A rep for Scott tells Variety that the set “ended at the conclusion of the show (11pm), which has been publicized on the Rolling Loud run of show for Saturday since the acts were announced.”
While lights and pyro continued operating, Scott continued rapping, with only the house monitors giving off sound. But then the video screen changed to a goodbye message, wishing all in attendance a good night and safe return home, signaling the official end of the event. The thousands who made it out to Sofi Stadium’s Hollywood Park on a cold night began heading toward the exits.
Organizers say that the performance time was adjusted for the curfew, but the abrupt stop left many in attendance confused, as shared on social media. Even more confusing, a “livestream” of the set, posted to YouTube an hour later, features the two last songs — “Sicko Mode” and “Goosebumps,” performed in their entirety, presumably with sound captured on the stage. In that sense at least, fans watching online did get to see the full performance as Scott intended.
But even with the truncated set time, Scott did manage to make his way through more than 10 songs, including fan favorites “Highest in the Room” and “Stargazing.” The start of “Sicko Mode” had the crowd anxiously peering for a Drake appearance, but that was not in the Rolling Loud cards for this night.
The festival did, however, bring out a bevy of big names throughout the day, including Nicki Minaj, who took the stage with Lil Wayne (and experienced some sound issues of her own), and Justin Bieber, Kali Uchis and James Blake, who joined Don Toliver on “Private Landing” and “4 Me,” respectively.
Lil Baby’s set at the festival felt like a victory lap, walking out to his verse on Drake’s “Wants and Needs,” strutting through a setlist that brought Atlanta to L.A. Against his white shirt and designer jeans, Baby’s diamond-studded jewelry sparkled to the crowd, glistening in sync to the lyrics of songs like “We Paid.” Performing for a little over half of his allotted hour, Lil Baby languidly rapped songs like his recent sensation “Heyy” to “Pure Cocaine” to a Gunna-less, “Drip Too Hard.” Suspicion filled the audience as Lil Baby performed “Yes Indeed” and “Girls Want Girls,” subtly posing the question: Where is Drake?
Lil Wayne, billed on the lineup as a special guest, headlined his own stage at the same time as Scott. Weezy arrived in a Cam’ron-like pink fur coat, reciting the lyrics to “Blunt Blowin” beside a live drummer, with flames and a Young Money-engraved ashtray flashing on the screen. Thanking the audience at the end of every song, Lil Wayne’s performance felt sentimental, spotlighting his closest collaborators after rapping for over 25 years. Tunechi began by bringing out 2 Chainz, who went on-stage right before him, to perform “Rich as Fuck,” “Duffle Bag Boy,” and “Watch Out” together.
Wayne dived into his classics from “Tha Carter” volumes III and IV, including “6 Foot 7 Foot” and “Ms. Officer,” and as he went deeper into his Young Money catalog, Nicki Minaj slowly walked onto the stage to rap her verse on “BedRock.” The crowd roared at this rare appearance as Tunechi announced Nicki as “the Queen of Hip-Hop.” The pair cycled through over a decade’s work of collaborations, from “Truffle Butter” to “High School.” Minaj experienced some technical difficulties, where her earpiece wasn’t synchronized with the speakers (according to an Instagram Live post following the performance, she didn’t intend on rapping over her own vocals). Despite this, Minaj seemed ecstatic to support Weezy, repeatedly describing him as “the greatest rapper alive.”
Along with career-defining tracks, “Lollipop” and “A Milli,” Wayne shuffled through a total of six songs that featured Drake — adding to the sense that, even though the Toronto rapper wasn’t actually performing at the festival, he might as well have been.
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