Categories: Concert Reviews

Vince Staples at Tattoo Toronto

The name Vince Staples might not be familiar to you but soon enough he will be.  Armed with his riveting debut album, the double disc Summertime ’06, Staples Is responsible for one of this year’s best discs.  Following support slots on some high profile tours, Staples headlined his own show at Tattoo Rock Parlor last night

The Long Beach, California rapper exudes a wisdom that defies his young age and Summertime ’06 is full of impressive moments guaranteed to crack a smile at least.  It is also one irresistible booty shaker with substance for thought.

My first time for a gig at Tattoo would also be my first chance to catch the man before he rightfully plays larger rooms.  Somehow the original Early Show turned into a much later affair which really shouldn’t be shocking.  But I did miss the first bit of the show as it did start earlier than the last posted set time.

The opening must have been something as the musty heat permeated my nose upon entry to the packed club, indicating a very involved affair.  By the time I found my ideal vantage point and was settled with a beer, I was ready for “Dopeman”, a short hypnotic track with a pulsing bass that won me over both on the album and in a live setting.  

Staples’ set up was simple – himself and a DJ/hype man in front of a screen that largely featured Summertime’s cover.  Staples didn’t need anything else as he fed off a frenzied crowd and delivered an intense and intensely enjoyable set, attacking the mic and stage like a manic conductor.

As a showman, Staples is clearly comfortable in his skin, his banter obviously not rehearsed and impressive in his back and forth with members of the audience, including an issue with a water bottle that I couldn’t make out enough to recall.  He gave a shout out to Toronto city councilor Norm Kelly and managed to get the crowd to sing parts of Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and I’m not sure how but the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way”.

The crowd was also a highlight of the night, abandoning posturing and attitude for a good hedonistic time, bouncing or throwing their heads up in the air.  Even for earlier tracks predating Summertime were met with a wild reception.

Tattoo’s low ceilings led to a basement party vibe that worked, unless you were in the back where a clear sightline of the stage would be virtually impossible.  The sound held up for the most part as the bass did its best to test the limits.  Aside from a couple of points where sound got a bit muddles, almost overwhelming the PA, everything was perfect for a thrilling hip hop show.

At just under an hour, the crowd and I would have happily offered up ourselves to continue the party and based on the smile on Staples’ face he would have kept it going too.

Mike Gallagher

Concert reviewer at Live in Limbo.

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