Sage Francis Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver BC May 31

Sage Francis Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver BC May 31
Sage Francis has come a long way since self-releasing albums on his Strange Famous Records label. He recorded the seminal indie rap record Personal Journals on Anticon, was the first rap artist signed to the mostly punk Epitaph Records, and has won several MC championships. So half a dozen albums into his career and more popular than ever, you would figure that Sage would be on the top of his game.

Sadly, despite the sold-out crowd for his first appearance in Vancouver, he seemed a little tired. A Sage Francis show in the mid-2000s came packing a monstrous stage presence - the MC running back and forth across the stage, literally spitting his rhymes, all while owning and mesmerizing the crowd for the entire night.

However, none of these antics or charisma were present at the Biltmore. Instead, he seemed as if on auto-pilot, lacking any of the heart-on-sleeve passion that he's become synonymous with and half-heartedly spinning his rhymes. Even his backing band the Free Moral Agents (featuring Isaiah Owens of the Mars Volta), employed especially for this tour, couldn't provide the missing spark.

The jubilant and sold-out crowd couldn't have cared less, though, with the majority eating up Sage's words and rhyming half of them back, hands in the air, yup, like they just didn't care. Unfortunately, the Biltmore is not designed for a sold-out show. The poor sound quality due to low ceilings, combined with a short stage limiting visibility to all but the front row, certainly dampened more than a few spirits.

Sage recently stated that he will be taking a long break from hip-hop, and after witnessing this mediocre show, it looks as if he might need it.