By Conner Jensen
Vince Staples is a rapper hailing from Long Beach, California who has been taking the rap scene by storm after the release of his first studio album Summertime ’06. While many people are just now starting to notice him, he’s been an integral part of the hip hop game for some time now. Vince has been on tour before and has even had shown in Phoenix, but this was his first tour where he was the headlining act. I arrived at the Crescent Ballroom on May 13th almost an hour before the doors opened and saw a line stretching far past the venue, which was nothing unusual for a sold out show; but it did add to my anticipation. After waiting for a considerable amount of time, Injury Reserve took the stage. Injury Reserve is a rap group from the valley who have managed to create a fairly large fanbase and some successful mixtapes; however, their set was relatively disappointing even for their fans. Given the circumstances, the enthusiasm they brought to the stage certainly hyped up the crowd for the main performance.
Before Staples took the stage, his DJ came on and remixed a few popular club songs to really get the crowd moving. The DJ played three songs, each fading into the next, before playing the introductory song to Summertime ’06, “Ramona Park Legend Pt. 1” as Staples took the stage. As the song played, the lights of the venue flickered to the beat of the music, making his entrance a very exciting and crowd-pleasing entrance. He first introduced himself by saying “I’m Vince Staples and I’m from Long Beach California,” then immediately went into “Lift Me Up.” As the song built up to the first verse, Staples told the crowd to jump, and from then on the energy continued to skyrocket. After a high energy start, he slowed it down, addressed the crowd off a little bit, then sang the hook for “Jump off the Roof” a capella before the beat quickly cut in and he began to spit out the verses. Staples was clearly holding no punches while performing, sweating profusely and quickly having to take off the long sleeve sweater he wore onto the stage. Following this song, he performed “Dopeman,” which the audience ate up as they sang every word to the chorus.
Staples soon began to stray away from Summertime ’06, but first he took a break to talk to the audience a little bit, which is arguably the highlight of his sets because of his intellect and sense of humor. After prefacing the song, he began to perform his part on Flume’s recent single “Smoke and Retribution.” The crowd went wild as soon as he said the opening lines of his verse, as a lot of the audience members were looking forward to hearing this song in particular. Staples proceeded to perform one more of his recent electronic songs, “Ghost,” which was originally recorded by With You but recently remixed by Major Lazer. While this remix is a quality electronic song, especially with Staples’ accompaniment, the drop on the song is relatively anticlimactic and made it hard to really lose yourself to. After performing it, he apologized for “having us sit through that” and from there picked the energy back up. He took another brief break before going back to the final songs from his most recent album.
He promptly began “3230,” quickly getting the crowd back up to the energy it was at before the previous song. The crowd clearly knew all the words and shouted them out along with him, which became fairly standard closer to the end of the set. “Senorita” followed shortly after and the energy ceased to drop. The crowd shouted the chorus in unison with Staples, and he even let the crowd do the work for him occasionally. The venue was hot and was only getting hotter by the minute, so it’s understandable that he was just as exhausted as the audience members, but he didn’t let that stop him from continuing his set. He took another breather and talked to the crowd and to his DJ to provide a break and comic relief for the audience as well. Once he caught his breath, he asked the audience to repeat “Wanna hang, wanna bang, wanna slang,” the chorus of “Hang n’ Bang.” He had the crowd scream that getting progressively louder every time, and once the crowd had said it as many times as the chorus had, the song began. The crowd went crazy, as this song has the most repetition in the verses and the chorus, making it excellent for audience participation. After that song, Staples decided to close out with some of his older songs.
“Fire,” from his studio EP Hell Can Wait, has an aggressive feel and really fed into the crowd’s energy, as a mosh began; and those who weren’t moshing were jumping up and down to the music. After that, he asked the audience how many of them knew his old stuff, made a few jokes, then proceeded to perform “Nate” from Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2, a mixtape from a few years back which he released prior to his studio EP. This song is a personal favorite and was a highlight of my night, and I’m sure it was for many other long-time fans of the rapper. This song was bittersweet, however, because it was becoming quite obvious that the show was reaching an end. It became even more apparent when the beat for “Norf Norf” came on as that was the one song everyone was waiting to hear. The crowd went wild, jumping up and down and being shoved back and forth by the wild fans rallied into the cage at the front. Once the song was over, Staples said goodnight and walked off stage, but the crowd wasn’t ready for it to be over. A chant for him began, and soon enough the DJ began to play the beat for “Blue Suede” as Staples rushed back on stage for one final song. He made sure to go out with a bang, coming in with every last drop of his stamina to finish out an incredible performance with an even more enticing encore.
Vince Staples has been making waves, and is sure to continue to for the next few years. The Circa ’06 tour was an unforgettable set, and for the pricing of the tickets you’d have been a fool not to have bought them. However, Vince is sure to be back again, and next time, make sure you’re there because it will be a show not to miss.