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Vince Staples at Vogue Theatre

Monday 14th, March 2016 / 12:17
By Galen Robinson-Exo
Vince Staples at Vogue Theatre. Photo:

Vince Staples at Vogue Theatre.
Photo: Galen Robinson-Exo

March 1, 2016

VANCOUVER — The first striking fact about the crowd at The Vogue Theatre on this particular Tuesday was their age (or lack thereof). This was, unbeknownst to this reviewer, an all-ages show, and the high school crowd was out in full force. By the time Vince Staples took the stage, intoxicated teenage throngs were doing their best to crush one another in the standing room, while the seats remained more or less empty, save for a smattering of fans over 25 who were satisfied with a distanced but more comfortable view of the stage.

The performance was energetic and engaging from the start, and crowd participation was a constant. Staples commanded the young crowd from the minute he stepped on stage, to their utter delight. All hands went up whenever he demanded, and the crowd responded to the persistent question of “Are you tired yet??” with resounding denial. Other effective, if cliché, tactics included a request that the crowd hold up their iPhones (the new lighter) followed by a bizarre rant about how fans that had any other brand of cell phone could go fuck themselves. A brief anti-police monologue was also met with wild applause, a moment in which the contrast between the performers and the mostly privileged, white crowd became very apparent. This dichotomy was echoed during the performance of “Hang N’ Bang,” when hundreds of rich, white teenagers emphatically sang the hook to an anthem about gangbanging and selling dope.

The setlist was comprised mostly of tracks from Staples’ most recent album, Summertime ’06, although there were a few songs from older albums, to which the crowd overwhelmingly knew all the words. Staples’ mastery of crowd control, coupled with the obvious dedication of his young fan base made for a successful formula in terms of a live performance, a tall order for any solo hip-hop artist.

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