A cloud of rebellion and angst billowed through the subway doors of the 7 train leading to CitiField Stadium in Queens, where Rolling Loud was set to take place. Hundreds of kids roared down the subway stairs where they were met by ticket scalpers and lines to show proof of vaccination in exchange for a mint green wristband for a chance to see some of their favorite artists hit the stage live.
Rain, sleet, or snow (and it did rain), the weekend promised performances from some of the hottest bubbling rap acts such as Stunna Gambino, 22Gz, Young Devyn, Griselda, Armani Caesar, City Morgue, and of course, performances from some of the biggest names in the music industry including headliners 50 Cent, J. Cole, and Travis Scott.
The New York edition of Rolling Loud was an illuminating experience that delivered a space for young music enthusiasts to gather with their friends and listen to all the music their parents hate to love. Much like any festival, technical difficulties (A Boogie’s mic not working when 50 Cent brought him out) and artists not showing up to their set (like Chief Keef — who rescheduled for the next day) were par for the course. These are problems that I have learned to accept over the many years of attending festivals, including Rolling Loud.
Most of the performances at Rolling Loud are really about energy and vibes. A majority of these acts don’t really put on full-out shows, instead, it’s more like the artist vibing with the crowd to their own songs. City Girls had a fun set and the crowd was really with them singing along to their hits such as “Act Up” and “Pussy Talk.” Gunna, Lil Yachty, Moneybagg Yo, 42Dugg, and Lil Uzi Vert all put on the type of set that saw the artists mostly vibing with their fans from the stage. The more seasoned acts, such as J. Cole, Rick Ross, and Wale, gave more of a live performance that saw the crowds swelled up to the brim for their wealth of hits. Among the younger artists taking a chance at truly rapping live was Roddy Ricch, who also had a live band with him, but even he wasn’t immune to allowing the audience to vibe with him, especially during “The Box.”
— UPROXX Music (@uproxxmusic) October 30, 2021
When it came to production, performance, and energy, a few acts stood out. Namely, 50 Cent, who put on a head-bopping nostalgic set. Ending the first night of the fest via Queens, Jamaica’s finest was smooth. The rap luminary also brought out A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, A$AP Rocky, and DaBaby, which the crowd seemed to love. Who doesn’t want to see “In Da Club” or “Many Men” live from a living legend?
The following nights, however, the festival itself belonged to Playboi Carti and Travis Scott. They are clearly what Rolling Loud was made for. It is why we attend — to rage and nothing else.
God bless anyone who was front and center of the Carti set because I have been there and you have got to really be with the shits in order to survive that kind of energy. I can only imagine how wild things got when he brought out Uzi for “Shoota.” The flashing white and red lighting cloaked over his black vampiric silhouette was captivating and the rain just added texture to the entire set, while the chaos and madness were orchestrated by his guitarist. It was bewitching to witness in real-time.
Travis Scott’s set was pure insanity. It was as if the entire festival swarmed to the Deleon Stage to catch his performance. I was situated somewhere near the middle-back of the growing crowd and at the stroke of the clock, the curtains came down and intense energy flowed through the crowd placing us all on the same frequency. The only thing to do was let go and go with the wave of the audience, instead of fighting it. Bodies bounced and dropped left to right. “I’m the highest in the room / Hope I make it outta here,” never felt so real.
There’s all this recent talk about how the metaverse is supposed to bring people to live shows without having to be physically present. I would like to see technology accurately replicate the kind of intensity that happens at a Travis or Carti show (throw Rocky, Uzi, and Ski Mask in that category too) because — sheesh!
Overall, Rolling Loud New York provided a huge cathartic release to a sea of kids pent up during the pandemic. Even as the event came to a close, the subway was no match for the hundreds of festivalgoers who filled up the 7 train, exiting Citi Field. That is where the party continued.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.