NEW YORK, NY — Nearly one month after a shooting plagued the inside of Irving Plaza, leaving one dead and several others injured, including rapper Troy Ave, the Manhattan concert hall opened its doors last night (June 23) for the first time since the said incident. Weeks after having been tied to bad press and headlines, the staff at Irving Plaza not only doubled up on precautionary measures for the night’s co-headlining bill by A$AP Ferg and Tory Lanez with added security and handheld metal detectors, but also procured assistance from the NYPD, who surveilled the parameters of the venue.
Although the security measures were upped, the misty energy that was left from last month’s show remained in the air like a linchpin, and for that reason left a thick cloud of uncertainty all the way from outside to inside the venue. Where outside, the venue saw no long lines wrapped around the Irving Plaza radius, inside saw a modest turnout with plenty of desolate space — especially in the VIP section of the balcony.
Still, like the saying goes: Within every dark night is a bright day. So by the time the clock struck 8 p.m., A$AP Ferg and Tory Lanez, who are both on the road for their co-headlining Level Up Tour, blessed New York City with a candlelight through the darkness via a wild, energetic, rollicking extravaganza that ultimately flipped over that aforementioned weird energy. And through that, the duo came out like superheroes rather than entertainers. And the superhero acknowledgement isn’t just because of how they were able to help the crowd escape the negative vibes, but also the entire performance, which came off like a Ryu Vs. Ken, Street Fighter-styled sound clash as Ferg and Lanez went head-to-head with their respective catalogs throughout the hourlong set.
Hitting the stage first was Mr. New Toronto, Tory Lanez, who appeared decked out in a leather jacket emblazoned with several international flags, including one of his native Canada, and immediately shifted into full gear with boisterous crowd favorites “Makaveli” and “Woods.” For those who haven’t been to a Tory Lanez show before, he’s arguably one of the most energetic performers out there. Throughout several occasions in the night, he skipped the typical artist safety protocols, at times opting to perform on top of the crowd — and no, not crowd-surfing but crowd-walking — and at one point exhibited Spider-Man abilities by climbing and performing from the balcony barricade. He’s a rockstar.
And amazingly though, even with all the moving around and energy-draining stunts, the "Say It" singer never lost a beat. After all, he did make make his mission clear earlier in the night, telling the crowd: "We came to do one thing and one thing only and that’s f**k shit up."
For every two songs performed, the duo tagged each other onto the stage for a completive joint set. So after Tory performed his opening two numbers ("Makaveli," "Woods"), A$AP Ferg, wearing a robe in honor of the late A$AP Yams, entered to Trap Lord bangers “Let It Go” and “Dump Dump.” Ensuring why they named the tour "level up," Ferg and Tory set the energy level on a constant incline through the duration of the night. After “Dump Dump,” Lanez hit the stage to R&B-flavored tunes like "Juvenile Freestyle" and "N.A.M.E.," before switching to medley of old school jams like Ginuwine’s "Pony" and Bel Biv Devoe’s "Poison" to showcase his unfuckwitable range. After a trip down memory lane, he then performed "Say It."
Never one to be outdone, A$AP Ferg one-upped Lanez thereafter with back-to-back raucous “Hella Hoes,” “Work” and “Shabba.” Sticking to that aforementioned Street Fighter-theme, this set from Ferg was the equivalent to an ultra combo finisher. If that wasn’t enough, Ferg then brought out fellow A$AP Mob affiliate Marty Baller for “Flex,” which made the house go apeshit. As the night drew to a close, following performances of “Diego,” “Real Addresses,” “Fo Real,” “Yammy Gang” and “Hungary Ham,” Ferg, Baller and Lanez stood center stage, while soaking in the fervid crowd love and frenzy, and concluded the festive evening with “Line Up the Flex.” Aside from the security inside the venue, not one person stood still in the process. After all, it was a party — a party that not only shed a positive light in such trying times, but also one that was long-awaited.
"Y’all know this show almost didn’t happen," said Ferg to the crowd at one point during the night. "Y’all know what happened, but we bringing the positive vibes tonight." Mission accomplished.