By James Olson
November 10, 2015
VANCOUVER — I was disappointed to see Vince Staples wrapping up his set as I was finding my seat at Rogers Arena for arguably the biggest rap show of the year. The final verse of the rumbling “Blue Suede” concluded just as I was settling in, but another concert goer who I will call Randy assured me that Vince’s set was “dope shit.” I was eager to see what the night would bring, especially with a lineup of such variety and calibre.
I will give credit to Danny Brown — the man does know how to work a stage. The “Smokin & Drinkin” wordsmith had energy to spare, leaping around like a cocaine-addled kangaroo. His set was the victim of a poor live mix, as his barking vocals were pretty much incomprehensible. The indefatigable Mr. Brown was a perfectly suitable warm up act, but had certain technical problems been resolved, his performance could have amounted to something much more impactful.
Tyler, the Creator had a lot going for him, he was possibly the best performer of the night. For one, Odd Future’s mischievous leader treated the crowd at Rogers Arena with a full-hour set loaded with only the best material from his polarizing yet surprisingly diverse discography. With Jasper Dolphin at his side, Tyler managed to suitably energize the audience throughout the set. Tyler himself was commanding yet willfully immature at times, humping the odd stage monitor and crudely remarking on a female fan’s well developed mammaries on more than one occasion. Some minor mixing issues on the opener “Deathcamp” were thankfully quickly resolved by the time Tyler and Jasper Dolphin got to the meat of their set. “Domo23” and “Tamale” were undeniable highlights as Tyler and Dolphin worked together to split the crowd and engage every audience member in a stadium-sized singalong. As with Danny Brown, Tyler’s performance was want for any sort of stage show with the exception of mandatory lighting cues. Would it have been so hard to drape a “GOLF” banner behind him? Tyler, The Creator of all people is not known for being restrained when it comes to visual flair.
As the headliner, Harlem hip-hop heavyweight A$AP Rocky benefited from the most visually engaging stage show of the evening. An over-the-top three-storey set of platforms gave A$AP and his crew plenty of room to work with. A$AP showed why he’s one of the hottest rappers on the planet as he plowed through a set laden with bangers which raised the intensity level in Rogers Arena to the point of critical mass. That being said, it felt like A$AP just wanted to rush through “L$D” and “Excuse Me” in favour of his more upbeat material. I can understand that A$AP and company wouldn’t want to drain the energy from the venue, but in a way, skipping those two tracks entirely would have been preferred to his pretty mediocre delivery of two of his best songs off of At.Long.Last.ASAP. A$AP’s set was woefully short, clocking in at a paltry 30 minutes. When songs like “Everyday,” “Canal St.” and most noticeably “Fukin’ Problems” are left out of the set, the benefits of brevity come into serious question. While it was nice to see A$AP bring out Tyler, The Creator and Vince Staples to lend him a hand with “Wild for the Night,” the lack of an encore and overall lacklustre proceedings lent a feeling of dissatisfaction to the whole evening as the house lights went up.A$AP Rocky, BC, British Columbia, Danny Brown, Rogers Arena, Tyler The Creator, Vince Staples