A blistering late-minute set from the "pretty motherfucker..."

28 MAY 2018

That was the message A$AP Rocky uploaded to Instagram on Monday, along with instructions to collect tickets from XOYO in Shoreditch.

Twenty minutes of queuing later - and with free ticket in hand - the venue was revealed to be the Village Underground, just a stone’s throw from Shoreditch High Street station, with Rocky scheduled to start at 9pm sharp.

By half past nine 500 restless fans await the arrival of the self-described “Pretty Motherfucker". Tracks like A$AP Ferg’s ‘Plain Jane’ causing mosh pits before the headline has even kicked off.

The excitement is palpable. It’s 10pm Rocky strolls on stage grinning from ear to ear, stage lights making his grills shine. A massive crash test dummy head dominates the background as ‘This is a test’ flashes up on screen in different fonts. And this is not merely aesthetic: only a few days have passed since the release of ‘Testing’, and the jury is still out on how his experimental new LP has been received.

Judging from tonight’s crowd, albeit of hardcore fans, Rocky’s latest collection passes. The entire venue opens up into a sweaty, jumping whirlpool as soon as the Moby-sampling ‘A$AP Forever’ kicks in and doesn’t really let up until the house lights signal it’s time to go home.

Rocky is in his element - crowdsurfing, dancing and generally bringing a ruckus, all the while looking like he’s having the time of his life. Three tracks into the set he welcomes regular collaborator Skepta to the stage for a high energy rendition of ‘Praise The Lord (Da Shine)’, complete with obligatory wheel-up from the DJ.

With only a few minutes left before he has to leave the stage, Rocky hits the crowd with the one-two punch of ‘Tony Tone’ and ‘Cosy Tapes’ single ‘Yamborghini High’ (the only song to appear tonight that isn’t from ‘Testing’).

“We’ve got time for one more song, what do y’all wanna hear?” Rocky asks, surveying the room. 500 voices shout their suggestions, and he does seem to be attempting to listen before taking the front row’s choice of his FKA twigs collar ‘Fukk Sleep’.

One final mosh pit and it’s all over. The lights come up on hundreds of exhausted faces, and Rocky grins one last time: “I’m gonna go and get high and drunk right now, y’all get home safe. A$AP forever!”

The short set - clocking in at just 40 minutes - is a memorable one, and proof enough that A$AP Rocky’s anticipated third studio LP ‘Testing’ can stand with the best of his back catalogue.

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Words: Jake Hawkes
Photo Credit: Juan Ortiz-Arenas

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