Vince Staples / Kilo Kish Vogue Theatre, Vancouver BC, February 28

Vince Staples / Kilo Kish Vogue Theatre, Vancouver BC, February 28
Photo: Joshua Peter Grafstein
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The lights in Vancouver's Vogue Theatre dimmed at 9 p.m. sharp last night (February 28), signalling opener Kilo Kish's arrival. The chanteuse dazzled onstage. Dressed in a black suit and white collared shirt that lengthened her lanky frame, Kish sang songs from her solo catalogue as her arms flailed, her body vibrated and, more than once, she ended up convulsing on the ground. The pairing of her sultry voice with her quirky image was unusual and entertaining.
 
Exactly an hour after Kish appeared, Vince Staples broke out onto the stage to the opening notes of "Prima Donna" primed the crowd.  The rapper's talent was apparent from the get-go, as Staples used up every corner of the stage.
 
"Vancouver, how the fuck you feeling tonight?" Staples asked on multiple occasions, each time receiving a louder, more energetic cheer than the last. Staples played singles from Prima Donna and Summertime '06, and even rapped songs from his first official EP, Hell Can Wait. A catchy, bass-heavy trap remix of "Ghost," a With You. song featuring Staples, was also included in the set list.
 
While Staples moved around the stage, images evoking the aquatic motif floated on screens behind him. During "War Ready," for example, a swarm of hammerhead sharks swam in aggressive circles, and the performance of "Loco" was made even crazier by the appearance of a great white shark. Wave sounds filled every prolonged break between songs to drive the marine theme of "The Life Aquatic Tour" home.
 
Staples' performance of his latest single "BagBak" was the highlight of the show. In addition to the song's spot-on, hyped-up production, the political undertones of the track were deliberately accented. The reel behind Staples included old clips about the United States' use of the atomic bomb in World War II, from images of newspaper headlines about the bomb to the blast itself, and the American flag waved across the screens as Staples rapped, "Tell the government to suck a dick, because we on now." An equally sensational moment occurred when Staples incorporated the meme of the infamous Christian mom who expressed distress over his "Norf Norf" lyrics into his visuals while rapping the track.
 
The evening's only disappointment was Kish's absence while Staples played their songs "Loco" and "Surf"; audience members were dissatisfied after the tracks had passed and Kish remained backstage. And yet, it didn't detract from the concert as a whole. Staples' verbal dexterity, matched with his unwavering focus and fire set list, led to an unforgettable show.
 
He ended the night with "Summertime," from Summertime '06. The MC's gentle crooning provided his fans with a much-needed cool-down after the frenetic show, but as the lights darkened and Staples prepared to exit the stage, the crowd's energy picked right back up. Staples tore up the stage, and no one in the audience was ready for the night to end.