One week after Kanye West turned SNL's season premiere into a political fiasco, his long-time protégé and collaborator Travis Scott delivered an SNL set this week that made music the top priority. Despite his mentor's erratic album rollouts this year or Scott's high-profile relationship with Kylie Jenner, the only hype surrounding his LP Astroworld has been strictly about its critical and commercial performance. The release enjoyed the second-largest debut of 2018, bested only by Drake.
It's almost ironic that an album named in honor of a Six Flags theme park gentrified out of existence sounds so futuristic and otherworldly. Part of its musical muscle is owed to the wide-ranging list of contributors and producers corralled by Scott, including John Mayer and Tame Impala, respectively. Both Mayer and Kevin Parker of Tame Impala joined Scott onstage for "Skeletons" and "Astrothunder," the first performance of the night.
Scott still found ways to convey a message through the music. For "Sicko Mode," the second song of the night, he opened with a mural of his hometown hero, deceased Houston icon DJ Screw, as a backdrop before performing the song atop an elevated platform while cameras rotated around him at 360 degrees. Scott then returned to the main stage, awash in laser effects, while he and Mike Dean (producer and collaborator) put on a sonic display. The set ended with a video projection of Screw giving love to Houston in an Astroworld tribute befitting a hip-hop legend.