The Vogue Theatre saw a full house on Tuesday night as rapper Vince Staples came through with his Summertime ‘06 tour. Staples’ gritty street narrative delivered through high-energy exposition was well received by the Vancouver crowd.
The show featured a surprise opening set by Portland artist Grace Mitchell. Her pop-panache was an unexpected, but not unwelcome, change up before the main act. Mitchell was meant to open for St. Lucia across the street but was moved due to unforeseen circumstances. She delivered a few great songs to a surprisingly receptive crowd considering how at odds they were from Staples’ style and content.
Next up was fellow west coaster Jay Worthy. Worthy’s sonic scheme made me question what year we were in, as his flow and production are taken straight outta Compton circa ‘95. He was quick to flash his colours (he’s a producer for Bompton) and throw up signs that probably meant very little to the all-ages Vancouver audience. Apart from his throwback shtick, his set was frankly quite forgettable.
This show was in support of Vince Staples’ full-length debut Summertime ’06; an album rich in autobiographical accounts of a harsh upbringing and “stolen youth” – as Staples would call it – in Long Beach, California. Take any snippet from the album and learn very quickly about a young man who has been both victim and perpetrator to acts most people are fortunate to only hear about on the news: crack addicts in the family, a drug-dealing father, and a not-so-brief stint as a gang member.
“I ain’t never ran from nothin’ but the police/ From the city where the skinny carry strong heat/ Norfside, Long Beach, Norfside, Long Beach” – from Norf Norf
Despite the serious nature of the lyrics, his music can be just as catchy and repeatable as your favourite pop-rapper.
Vince took to the stage with Lift Me Up, running side-to-side, getting everyone in The Vogue on his level. His energy was infectious and set the tone for the entire evening. Staples lead the crowd in hit after hit from his most recent release as well as older tracks from his previous tapes Hell Can Wait and Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2. Highlights of the night would include Nate, Norf Norf, and his encore Blue Suede; these tracks had the biggest reaction from the crowd and fuelled Vince’s charisma. His onstage persona seemed honest, comfortable, and extremely witty – check out his “Over/Under” to get the idea – as he joked with his entourage and the audience.
The one-hour runtime of his set seemed conducive to maintaining the audiences interest; I’ve been to shows recently where quantity was chosen over quality with detrimental results. The only downfall was skipping over some of his earlier music. Staples is only 22-years old but has had 5 mixtapes/EP’s leading up this release that showcase his immense development as an artist. I guess it is best to strike while the iron is hot by focusing on the new material.
While it’s clear that his music is inspired by an upbringing not all can directly relate to, his ability to transcend race and socio-economic background enables Staples to flourish amongst any demographic. Vince Staples will be touring music festivals over the following months so with any luck, Vancouver will have an opportunity to experience Summertime all over again.