Travis Scott’s hit “SICKO MODE” from his 2018 album, “ASTROWORLD,” blared through an Instagram post that sucked me into a dimension that spun trippy hues of tropical magentas and flaming reds and yellows. A glimpse of knockout video game franchise Fortnite’s iconic aerial battle bus shot through the screen and landed in the background of Travis Scott’s newest innovation: “Astronomical.” The application of the same font as the one he used in his truly infamous ASTROWORLD music festival, that featured big names like Post Malone and Megan Thee Stallion, hinted at his forthcoming at the grandeur of virtual, other-worldly experience.
Hip hop mastermind, Travis Scott, and Fortnite creator, Epic Games, held the three-day “Astronomical” concert across multiple international time zones from April 23 to April 25. The main attraction was the premiere of Travis Scott and Kid Cudi’s collaboration “THE SCOTTS.” When players completed challenges, they had the chance to unlock some of Travis Scott’s most known outfits, such as his highly sought-after Air Jordan 1 High OG “Cactus Jack” collaboration. Additionally, players were able to snatch in-game items like the ASTROWORLD cyclone glider and two Travis Scott loading screens for free.
The concert commenced on the beaches of Sweaty Sands, complete with giant golden Astro Heads, enormous inflatables modeled after Travis Scott’s likeness that depict him with his mouth wide open as in the artwork for “ASTROWORLD” spread out for the players to bounce on. A few minutes prior to the show, players were instructed to swap their weapons for fiery microphone stands. They paid tribute to the Travis Scott concert picture meme where he is screaming and raising a microphone stand as flames glow behind him. Head-banging emotes flooded the scene in front of the ASTROWORLD Theme Park planet, drawn by the levitating speaker at its core.
Opening strains of Travis Scott’s “SICKO MODE” and fluffs of Drake’s ad-libs kicked into overdrive as Travis Scott rolled up in the form of a gleaming lavender comet that crash-landed on the shore. The explosion had players fly far out from the stage and left a duo chromatic gloss. A spot-on, skyscraper-sized Travis Scott soon dominated the screen.
Digitized Travis Scott spent his time teleporting all over Sweaty Sands and embodied different characters in many visually astonishing environments. After rapping through “STARGAZING,” lightning struck and Travis Scott unveiled his cyborg body.
Players were then blasted off into a laser-filled sanctuary where Travis Scott performed “goosebumps” as a neon skeleton. At the end of the aforementioned fan favorite, Travis Scott plunged the concert underwater for “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM,” where fans swam around the artist now dressed as a deep-sea diver.
Finally came the performance of the long-awaited debut of “THE SCOTTS.” Players were blasted into orbit to spectate its glory. Travis Scott’s colossal avatar sat on the moon from Kid Cudi’s “Man on the Moon: The End of Day.” Suddenly, Kid Cudi’s moon zoomed further away as the ASTROWORLD planet took over the screen. The “Astronomical” concert was brought to a crescendo when the ASTROWORLD planet crumbled like a pastry and detonated itself, launching players light years away into another casual day of Fortnite.
The grandeur of the “Astronomical” concert had more than 12.3 million players tuned into the Travis Scott experience in merely the first night of the five shows. And this does not take into account all of the streaming parties that were held on platforms like Twitch and YouTube.
Travis Scott was scheduled to headline the wickedly famous Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival that typically reels in 250,000 heads in two weekends during this time in April. Attaining the coveted headline slot at Coachella has traditionally been a universal sign that an artist has achieved a high amount of popularity and acclaim in the music industry. However, given the current crisis, Travis Scott was unable to perform at Coachella. But, that didn’t stop him from being able to pull off what could be dubbed the spellbinding event of the year alongside Epic Games.
Epic Games has undoubtedly provided the biggest stage that an artist has ever encountered as well as having obtained the largest live audience in Fortnite history. Travis Scott’s “Astronomical” concert has demanded the attention of all stakeholders within the music and gaming industries alike. This entertainment experience has set a new benchmark for how fans will engage with music, and those who dare repeat the same idea will have some very big shoes to fill. Fortnite and Travis Scott have victoriously executed their concoction of genuine interactivity and striking eye candy in this collaboration. Travis Scott will go down as one of the pioneers that has successfully married fan engagement and pop culture on a large scale.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, May 4, 2020 e-print edition. Email Holly Grace Jamili at [email protected]