Review

Fetty Wap brings a messy, crowded 'Zoo' to Hollywood Palladium

Before he wrapped his headlining concert Thursday night at the Hollywood Palladium, Fetty Wap wanted to lead the packed crowd through a singalong.

“I want to do my favorite song,” the New Jersey rapper — real name Willie Maxwell — announced before his DJ fired up “Jugg,” one of the many melodic bangers that filled his self-titled debut.

The crowd couldn’t get lost in the music, though.

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Instead of a bouncy singalong moment, the 100 or so fans that hugged the lip of the stage were forced to part like the Red Sea after a melee erupted. As a group of men punched and stomped each other, the nearby crowd nervously stood still (well, those who didn’t jump in and hurl their limbs toward any and everyone).

Fetty stood onstage, not discouraging the fighting but patiently waiting for it to cease as the track played his vocals in the background.

Sadly, it wasn't the first altercation of the night; we heard multiple accounts of fans seeing a woman bleeding in front of the venue, having been slashed by another concertgoer.

A rowdy fight breaking out at a rap show certainly isn’t revelatory. However, there is certainly something to be said when a brawl is one of the more memorable moments of the night.

That Fetty decided to dub his show the “Welcome to the Zoo” tour grew with irony as the night went on -- although it would have been more apt to give the show a circus theme. 

And like any great circus, it was the side acts that were worth watching. And goodness, were there many on Thursday.

Almost immediately it became clear the night was going to be a bit of a mess. When I arrived to the Palladium there were two young ladies in hysterics.

"One of our friends is in the hospital for being too passionate and now we all have to go to Cedars-Sinai," one of the girls slurred into her cellphone. The other was unsuccessfully pleading with security to be allowed back in to find their friends, who ditched them when security tossed their friend out. 

Drunk teenagers and college kids were to be expected of a show that featured Fetty Wap and main opening act Post Malone -- two rappers whose entire existence wouldn't be possible without social media, YouTube and Soundcloud. 

At 24, Fetty is one of the hottest rising rappers out there right now -- almost exclusively off the strength of his viral smash “Trap Queen.” The ballad from a drug dealer to a lady who cooks product with him became the most unlikely pop hit in ages thanks to its minimal, synth-heavy trap beat, catchy melody and his wobbly, digitally enhanced singing.

And he stuck tightly to the winning formula of “Trap Queen” for his 2015 debut, which kept him from the pits of one-hit-wonder-dom.

His set at the Hollywood Palladium should have been a victory lap, given the show came on the day his debut was officially certified platinum, an almost unheard--of feat for artists whose name doesn’t begin with Adele or end with Swift.

While Fetty is a charismatic, albeit unpolished, performer, his decision to surround himself with such a messy setting turned those blemishes into distractions. 

While it’s commendable he brought along artists from his own RGF Productions imprint, subjecting the crowd to a near-parade of equally unpolished artists performing along to tracks felt cruel to everyone involved.

And when Fetty finally emerged, sometime after 11 p.m. after hours of forgettable openers -- it’s worth noting the show had an exceptionally high volume of woozy underage fans (it made the bar line short, though, since they pre-gamed before they got in) -- he shared the stage with more than a dozen hype men.

The crowd didn’t seem to care that Fetty wasn’t the star of his own tour as they sang every line back to him.

But what a zoo the evening was.

One side of the stage was overpopulated by so many hangers-on that a chunk of it was covered with black draping. Losing that kind of real estate would have limited the production, had there actually been one.

But it didn’t matter, though, as the stage was literally crammed with people who served no purpose other than to be seen.

His hypemen worked overtime to suck away attention from him, jumping about onstage, tossing water on the crowd, running back and forth around the rapper while adding approximately nothing to the music -- which came from prerecorded tracks spun by a DJ.

How the DJ focused as a trio of beauties in matching white furs slinked and twerked around him is remarkable in itself.

Fetty spent the set cycling through his hits and album tracks without much engagement. But why did he need to do the heavy lifting, when there were so many people on the stage willing to boost his presence with theirs?  

Closing with “Trap Queen” offered Fetty one true moment at being the real ringmaster to the circus he created. It’s just too bad the animals had already stunk up the place.

gerrick.kennedy@latimes.com

For more music news follow me on Twitter: @gerrickkennedy

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