Arts & CultureMusicNightlife

Vince Staples wows crowd with stunning visuals at the Roseland Theater Wednesday night

Last week, when the Emerald spoke with Long Beach rapper Vince Staples, he hinted that his upcoming performance at the Roseland Theater will be a not-to-miss event and boy was he not kidding.

New wave female vocalist/rapper Kilo Kish — who is touring with Staples for the entirety of his 26-city North American “Life Aquatic” tour — opened the show Wednesday night in Portland. Wearing a designer business suit, Kish used a red analog telephone and a briefcase full of random clothing as props during her performance.

While some audience members ignored Kish’s performance to engage in their own side conversations, others were utterly enamored by her synth-driven alternative rap that seemed more like a piece of performance art than a standard music show.

After Kish finished her 30 minute set, the audience was forced to wait for another 30 minutes before Staples began his performance. After the house lights dimmed, the distinct intro to the title track from his most recent album, “Prima Donna,” began playing, sending the crowd into a frenzy of excitement. Staples walked onto the stage just as the beat dropped and began his verse, singing, “Kick cack ce cool, watch a n**** get it.”

The mysterious backdrop that was indiscernible during Kish’s performance lit up and blinded audience members who had adapted to the dark room, putting an exclamation point on Staples’ grand entrance. Once everyone’s eyes had adjusted they could finally make sense of this mysterious backdrop. A concave wall of 12-foot high LED screens surrounded the Long Beach rapper, showing images of oceanic life, trippy animations and flashes of blinding color throughout the show.

View the Emerald’s photo coverage of Vince Staples’ Portland show here. 

Just as the crowd was getting used to this incredible visual display, lights mounted on top of the massive screens created a wall of rotating light over the crowd. Staples had won over the audience just three songs into his set. As the light show continued to dazzle the audience, Staples confidently rapped the lyrics to his song “Smile,” asking, “How you feeling everybody? Hope you had a nice day.”

It was obvious that Staples was feeding on his fans’ energy. Staples was rushing through his songs at an impossible pace. Only 22 minutes into his set, he had already played eight songs, including some of his older and deeper tracks like “Fire” and “Lift Me Up.”

Although crowds at the Roseland Theater are often known for getting kind of rowdy and even a little out of hand at times — especially for rap concerts — this show seemed to have more energy and excitement than most. About halfway through his set, Staples took time to perform songs he has been featured on as a guest rapper, such as Flume’s “Smoke and Retribution” and With You’s “Ghost.” As he was performing GTA’s “Little bit of this,” a sizable mosh pit broke out in the center of the venue.

As he finished his initial set with “Blue Suede,” many audience members — acting as if this were the first concert they’d been to — chanted in despair for the song they had all come to hear, which still hadn’t been played. But just as quickly as Staples had exited stage, he triumphantly returned singing the lyrics to his most famous song, “Norf Norf.”

While Staples has always had an energetic sound to his music, his live performances have always lacked the same energy from him. He will often stand in one place on stage for minutes at a time or pace in the same monotonous fashion. The addition of a half-dome of LED screens and a laser light show that was better than some EDM concerts helped push Staples often stoic physical performance from being a good live performer to a great one.

Follow Zach Price on Twitter: @zach_price24

Like the Emerald’s coverage of hip-hop music? Check out our review of Future’s recently released album “HNDRXX” here.

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Zach Price

Zach Price

Zach Price is the Editor in Chief of the Emerald. He likes to write about music and watch Trail Blazer games.

Reach Zach at [email protected]