Review: Vince Staples locked down Toronto with the Life Aquatic Tour

(By: Sorcha Beirne)

Vince Staples may have stumbled into his role as a rapper, but his talent and focus creates an undeniably magnetic stage presence. Staples never disappoints, and such was clear at this weekend’s Toronto stop of his The Life Aquatic Tour.

As the crowd began to pile into the venue, The Phoenix Concert Theatre, on Friday night (Mar. 24), they were met with clips of Wes Anderson’s film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou playing in reverse on three split screens that backdropped the stage. As one fan remarked in the crowd, “Now I know Vince Staples has gone weird.”

At 9 p.m. sharp, rapper-singer Kilo Kish walked out in a suit and took over the stage for one hell of an opening act. Over her half-hour set, Kish showed off solo tracks as she danced – or, rather, flailed? – erratically across the stage, toying with various props including a briefcase that she demolished, and ending her act by dropping to the ground. Between the tempo of her tracks and her bizarre choreography, it almost felt like watching a musical theatre performance strung along by a heavy bass. Though the crowd initially appeared wildly confused by the act, most seemed to become captivated by Kish’s strange presence and rewarded her with an emphatic round of applause that felt more than genuine.

After Kish’s set-up was cleared from the stage, fans waited another 30 minutes to see Staples. At 10 p.m. sharp, the house lights dimmed and Staples took to the stage as the beat dropped for “Prima Donna,” his first and title-track from his most recent album. His stage lights shone out over the crowd while the split-screen backdrop lit up with ocean visuals of swimming fish and sharks.

In typical Staples fashion, he spoke few words and took no breaks in between songs. Instead, the rapper’s energy was incredibly focused as he ripped through his setlist, delivering over 20 tracks by the end of the night.

The energy in the room was electric with fans reciting entire verses back to Staples as he made use of every inch of the stage. Staples performed tracks from both of his albums, ‘Summertime 06’ and ‘Prima Donna,’ and his setlist even included remixes of Flume’s “Smoke & Retribution” and With You’s “Ghost,” both songs of which he was featured on. The crowd seemed to know every lyric to every song, including the features. When Staples played his latest single, “BagBak,” off his up-and-coming next album, the whole room seemed to be chanting along as he rapped, “Tell the president to suck a dick/Because we on now”.

Staples finished his set with one of his most recognizable tracks, “Blue Suede,” only to be loudly summoned back out for an encore.

After performing his most famous track for the first song of his encore, “Norf Norf”, Staples cooled off the crowd with his slow, crooning track “Summertime,” before sending the youth of Toronto back home for the night.

The lightshow, stellar delivery, and the hit setlist made for a set that had no low point – in which Vince Staples smashed every expectation from the crowd.

(All photos of Staples’ set courtesy of Sorcha Beirne/RUtv News)

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