By 10 PM on Friday the 31st, the 9:30 Club was already packed. The night’s opener Kilo Kish had already given a fantastic performance an hour earlier, and fans were loudly clamoring, drinking and dancing as they waited for main act Vince Staples to come onstage. Suddenly, the lights cut off and the background music went silent. A giant trifold electronic screen in the back of the stage lit up with a video clip of a magnified goldfish, and the man himself stepped onto the stage. As the crowd screamed and cheered, Vince Staples launched into the first track on his setlist, “Prima Donna”, from his latest album of the same name. After the first song, Staples stopped for a break with a formal greeting to the audience, which was received loudly and eagerly.
For the remainder of the hour and half set, Staples gave us an eclectic performance, at times animatedly jumping around stage spitting out lyrics, other times standing still and pausing mid-song, letting his enthusiastic fans fill in the words. Staples played a variety of selections from Prima Donna, Summertime ’06, and his earliest EP, Hell Can Wait, as well as several previously unreleased tracks. While the crowd cheered when Staples’ biggest hits like “Señorita” and “Blue Suede” came on, they took his lesser known tracks with just as much energy. As always, Staples was an amazing performer alone, but the creative visuals of his show were just as incredible: the performance in front of the giant LED screen that projected alternating tranquil underwater scenes, film clips, and colorful cartoon illustrations, along with the smoke and lights shooting out into the audience, made the show unforgettable.
The most memorable part of the night came after Staples wrapped up his setlist and stepped offstage. As the crowd chanted “One more song!”, he jumped back onto the stage with full vigor to perform his best-known hit “Norf Norf,” after which came the final song of the night, “Summertime,” a slower ballad piece which made for a strong contrast with the fast-paced energy of the previous song. In the midst of the applause following the encore performance, Staples suddenly shushed the crowd to give a serious, more somber farewell speech in reference to the recent string of child abductions throughout DC. “There have been black and brown girls going missing in this city … take the time to help find those kids. Don’t be a sh*thead. Thank you.”
Overall, the performance, visuals and messages present in Vince Staples’ show were wonderful and meaningful. An extremely talented (if unpredictable) artist, Staples’ performance made a deep impression long after he left the stage.