Travis Scott played a haphazard, last minute set at Voodoo Saturday night.  

travis scott photo for my spilt milk by erika goldring
Travis Scott at Voodoo 2018, by Erika Goldring

Travis Scott is a cultural curator. In the age of Instagram-famous rich kids and Spotify playlists, Scott has consistently identified what will be popular among Millennials. Because of that, it wasn’t surprising when Voodoo goers weren’t disappointed that he was chosen to replace the injured Childish Gambino at the last minute. Scott is as plugged into the moment in one way as Gambino is in another

Scott took the stage with a deejay who was stationed in levitating cube, and his energetic dancing immediately hyped up the crowd. At the same time, his vocals were steeped in heavily AutoTuned harmonies over pre-recorded tracks, and most of those songs were snippets of his features.

Scott just released a full 58-minute album, Astroworld and he mentioned that he was excited for the Astroworld Tour, but it was shocking that he did not perform more of his own music. When he was performing songs off Astroworld, Scott’s primary role as a producer was evident. He only rapped his own verses, causing each song to be shortened to samples. The crowd bounced when each track started, then an airhorn or shotgun sound effect abruptly signaled the end of the track in typical trap fashion. Pyrotechnics made the aesthetic of the airhorns slightly more alluring.

The set revealed Scott's limitations though, starting with the fact that he is not an impressive rapper. His verses lack personality, and his flow takes the form of those who he collaborates with. On “Pick Up The Phone,” he was indiscernible from Young Thug, and on “Skywalker,” he took on Miguel’s mellow sex appeal. At various points in the set, Scott signaled for the deejay to cut the track and proceeded to rap a cappella. These were the most awkward moments of the performance. His vocals were drenched in autotune, and without a beat the audience fell silent in boredom rather than awe.

This is not to say that Scott is not a talented producer or that fans did not enjoy the show. Scott said it best himself while performing “Sicko Mode;” “who put this shit together? I’m the glue.” He is skilled when it comes to bringing genres and people together, and his ability to connect disparate sounds has made him one of the most popular artists of the moment. to bring in vast crowds, And if there’s one thing he does not lack, it’s showmanship. Scott’s enthusiasm was infections. At one point, an audience member jumped the barrier only to be greeted by a disgruntled security guard. Scott told the security guard to let the man go and proceeded to sing to him. The crowd loved Scott’s display of respect for his fans.

Throughout the day at The Altar Stage, Janelle Monae and Lizzo urged their audiences to be more social responsible, respectful of others, and find inspiration in themselves. Aside from small gestures like singing to the fan, Scott's closing set met those impulses with a vague sense of vanity over the stage, perhaps because the Kardashian Industrial Complex affects everything and everyone it touches. Scott’s skill as a producer and exuberant stage presence do not make up for the lack of depth in his music. His allure clearly worked for the audience at Voodoo, but it's hard to see how his shine lasts until he becomes more distinctive and deliberate.