If you want to start your week off with a little Monday motivation, it may not land you at an NF concert given the dark and sad tones of NF’s entire discography, but over a thousand people piled in the sold out Vogue Theatre to catch a glimpse of the 26 year-old Christian rapper. And when I say glimpse, I really mean only a glimpse. There were zero spotlights to illuminate the rapper’s face while he kept the brim of his hat covering his face keeping a mysterious undertone to the entire performance. The only time his face was shown was either during the bright flash of a strobe light or a video of him playing on screen.
The show started with NF sitting on a cot and jail cell that was set on stage resembling the same on that appears on the cover of his new album Perception. It was sure a dramatic entrance to the stage but it just left me wondering how long he was sitting in there underneath the curtain that one of his roadies pulled back right before the initial drop of the opening song “Outcast.” To add to the drama of the show, NF decided to climb on top of the cell for the last choruses and verse of the song, and it was the first and only time that he was on top of the cell.
The show was very raw and emotional, and the images that played on the screen behind him were quite personal and uncensored. Clearly family issues are a big influence behind NF’s music as he showed actors portraying a younger version of himself with slit wrists sitting at the end of the bed with his parents engaging in a screaming match leading to domestic violence looming over him. These images were to match songs like “10 Feet Down,” and “My Life.”
NF did not speak a word to the audience the entire night outside of the songs with the only exceptions being a half-hearted, “How you feelin’ Vancouver?” and after encouraging the crowd to get low and jump at the drop, he said, “Get low means squat!” Outside the lyrics of the song, those were the only two occasions we heard his voice through the microphone. The lack of interaction with the audience didn’t damage the show, it just made it a lot shorter than it could’ve been, but the upside to the no-talking tactic was that the content of NF music’s is so emotional and personal that dialogue on top of that would not have a huge affect on the audience.
One of the most personal moments of the concert was the performance of “Let You Down” as the entire crowd belted out the emotional chorus as a video portraying NF’s parents looking seemingly unhappy with him, and showing the death of him with a burning car and at the end NF’s father buries him with the last image being his face lying in a casket. Despite the personalness of this song, it seemed to connect with audience unlike any other song that was played that night.
As NF left stage without a word, it was unclear whether he would return for an encore. Sure enough, he did a closed out his set with newest single, “NO NAME,” which brought out four crowd surfers that all started from the same place and ended in the same spot which visibly irritated the people who had to carry four consecutive people. The initial drop of the final song saw the use of smoke cannons located at the front of the stage. He exited the stage leaving the last line of “NO NAME” flickering on the screen that read “I leave it all on the stage,” and in a very NF-like fashion, not a word was said as he left and the house lights turned back on. This was NF’s first stop in Vancouver of 2018 as he makes his return in July opening up for Logic at the PNE Amphitheatre, so if you missed him this time around, you have one more chance this year.