One of the major things that A$AP Ferg and Tory Lanez have in common is that they both have to deal with being compared to their peers and counterparts: Ferg, a member of the A$AP mob, is often held to the high standards set by his team leader, A$AP Rocky, while Tory Lanez has to contend with superstar and fellow Toronto native Drake. This high bar set for these two rising urban artists has forced them both to both raise their game while developing their own flavor of stardom. "The Level Up Tour," which stopped by Marquee Theatre in Tempe last night, acts as the embodiment of that effort. Ferg and Lanez co-headline the tour, and the result felt like both rappers were trying to out-gun each other. The true winners? All of us in the audience.
It seemed that the main focus for both Tory and Ferg was to keep the energy as high as possible through the set. They achieved this by switching off every couple of songs. This is a usually successful strategy for co-headliners. It gives them the opportunity to switch up their set if need be while keeping the audience on their toes. It also turns the performance into a bit of a competition: Each run at the stage seemed to grow more intense each time.
Tory used his sultry voice to entice the young members of the crowd as he tested their knowledge of '80s and '90s songs such as Bell Biv DeVoe's "Poison" and Ginuwine's "Pony." The crowd ate up his hit singles "Say It" and "LA Confidential" as Tory challenged A$AP Ferg to "Level Up" and increase the intensity. While Ferg was able to deliver, Tory was quick to up the ante by taking off his shirt, leaping into the crowd and surfing the fans for extended periods of time.
Not one to back down from a challenge, Ferg hit the crowd with some of his biggest hits, including "Shabba" and "New Level." Ferg didn’t quite have the same intensity as Lanez, but he did do a clean job of delivering his music, especially when compared to Lanez' erratic and energetic delivery. The audience shamelessly sang and bounced along with Ferg as he managed to maintain the level of energy.
All in all, the decision to go back and forth between sets was wise. The idea of making it a sort of a competition between the two artists not only forced the artists to step it up each time out but also allowed for the show to progress without the audience getting fatigued with one artist. Tory’s energy combined with Ferg’s hard-hitting beats can win over anybody that is willing to listen.
Last night: A$AP Ferg and Tory Lanez at Marquee Theatre in Tempe
Overheard: "Tory Lanez is so fucking hot! I love his gold teeth!"
Crowd: While Tory guessed that average age of the audience was "'80s and '90s babies," I would say the crowd consisted of people born closer to 2000, as the all-ages event featured plenty of young faces looking to turn up for the night.
Random Notebook Dump: Young white kids have NO problem singing the "N-Word" when it's blasting through cabinet speakers at high volumes.
Personal Bias: Tory Lanez has a lot of talent, and a great voice. I wish he wouldn't have his vocals on his tracks when he performs; he kind of gets drowned out by them.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.