While the concert may be too for recent me to say this, Vince Staples may have played the most impressive hip hop live show I have ever attended. The entirety of his show, from the first opening act until the moment the house lights came on, was precisely designed and poignantly performed. As for Staples himself, he is a gifted emcee and capable actor. Staples powerfully communicates his own memories and lived experiences through his music, but he also has a gift for adopting personas in his rhymes.
Pasadena, Calif. rapper Katori Walker took the stage first. Walker, although his music was largely unknown by the crowd, managed to captivate the audience through songs about gang violence and advocacy for peace.
Jpegmafia — or as the crowd called him, Peggy — followed Katori Walker, whose set was short but, nevertheless, impactful. Entering the stage, Peggy was clearly a little out of it. But he quickly reassured the audience that he was alright, and that he “took a bunch of edibles” right before entering the stage. Peggy DJ’ed for himself, simply playing his songs off Spotify in the background. Rarely have I seen the energy he brought to the audience matched. Peggy’s performance of his critically acclaimed “Baby I’m Bleeding” stood out as the most exciting moment of the entire concert. It didn’t take long into the song before I took an elbow to the face and cut my eye; but hey, every good concert leaves a few scars.
Staples, finally emerged a few hours into the night, opening his set with the opening track from his recent album FM!, “Feels Like Summer.” He performed a majority the songs off of this album. For songs off of FM! and Summertime ’06, the set was composed of several cracked TV screens displaying a combination of pornagraphy and live views of the audience and Staples himself. During performances of songs from his second album Big Fish Theory, the ambience shifted quite a bit as Staples adopted a crooner persona. The standout moment of the set was clearly his performance of “745.”
The final 15 minutes of his set were not performed by Staples. Instead, he yielded the stage to his late collaborator Mac Miller. In a loving tribute to Miller’s life and musical legacy, his NPR Tiny Desk concert was projected onto the screen. The video closed with the text “Rest in Peace Mac Miller.” The tribute was incredibly moving and left several audience members in tears.
The production value of the show was incredible, and the tech crews behind the Staples’ tour deserve much of the credit as to why this show was so memorable. The supporting acts shone through on their own, yet they didn’t overshadow Staples. However, if there’s one thing that is certain, it is that Staples is a talented storyteller and master showman. His music and performance left a mark on concert goers, and it is certain that DSP Shows should bring more artists like Staples to Ithaca.
Peter Buonanno is sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He currently serves as the arts and entertainment editor on The Sun’s editorial board. He can be reached at [email protected]