A fight broke out near me in the back of the crowd at Xfinity Center while we were waiting for co-headliner Vince Staples to take the stage.
Student opener Wallz Baba had just performed, and the Art Attack XXXV crowd was a lot rowdier than I had expected. But what surprised me even more was that end-of-semester angst seemed to have the crowd more excited for the aggressively positive Lil Yachty than the abrasive Vince Staples.
Staples came out to his recent song “Get The Fuck Off My Dick,” which he released in March following criticism from fans that his live performances were lacking in quality.
— Vince Staples (@vincestaples) March 7, 2018
Big Fish Theory, Vince’s latest album, unsurprisingly got the most love out of any of his projects during his set, which included “745,” the Kendrick-featured “Yeah Right,” “Party People,” “BagBak” and “Rain Come Down,” featuring last year’s Art Attack flaker Ty Dolla $ign.
He also scattered in some hits from Summertime ’06 (“Lift Me Up,” his breakout hit “Norf Norf” and “Señorita” with its killer Future hook) and Hell Can Wait EP (“Blue Suede”) and performed his verses from Gorillaz’s “Ascension” and Black Panther: The Album‘s “Opps” (nothing from Shyne Coldchain, Vol II, unfortunately).
Vince isn’t just a studio rapper, and he’s more than capable of rapping on stage without relying on a backing track. But when he takes the stage, all he does is stand there and rap over “robot video game beats” silhouetted against various aquatic-themed backdrops. While this strategy works well when the crowd is into it — like when he performed “Norf Norf” (the irony was not lost on me that on this Pepsi campus, I could not grab a Sprite like Vince told me to despite being a thirsty bitch) — it drags on when most people aren’t rapping along with him.
One of the only moments of crowd interaction during his set was when Vince performed “Blue Suede.” He told the crowd to go crazy when the beat dropped and the first verse started, but we didn’t. So he ran the song back and made us do it again. I’m not sure if we followed directions the second time around, or he was just tired of trying to get the crowd of lazy college students into it.
Between songs, Vince would ask the crowd how we were doing and tell us to avoid illicit drugs and do our homework. If you think this is out of character for the West Coast rapper, you don’t know Vince (and I suggest you get to know him ASAP).
The crowd got more hype for the DJ set in between Vince and Yachty’s performances than we ever did for Vince, which was kind of sad. But the DJ played Yung Gleesh’s “Water,” which is the best song of all time, so I can’t complain.
When Yachty did come on the stage, the crowd went wild. His visuals were mostly cartoons of himself running across the screen in ways related to the song playing at the time, which was cute and kept eyes up on stage.
The set started off with some of Yachty’s more recent songs like “Ice Tray,” “Peek a Boo” and “iSpy,” but he threw in some songs like “Wanna Be Us” from his debut mixtape Lil Boat as well. It was fairly back-heavy, with a lot of his big hits — “Broccoli,” “Mase in ’97” and “One Night” — toward the end of the concert.
Lil Yachty also incorporated a ton of audience interaction into his set, and it worked every time. A few times, he demanded the crowd open up a mosh pit, and every time, we obliged. The biggest mosh pit was for his breakout hit “Minnesota,” which less-dedicated fans might recognize from his Sprite-themed remix. He dedicated “Broccoli” — the one Yachty song everyone knows — to all the weed smokers in the crowd.
Toward the end of the set, he held the “Boat Test,” which was supposed to determine if this crowd was the most lit. He passed out water bottles to the Jeopardy! theme song and then had the crowd have a water fight to “Mase in ’97” — you know, that one song that someone will tell you to listen to if you say Yachty isn’t a good rapper.
Yachty’s stage presence impressed, too. He was able to spit most of “Mase in ’97” without a backing track, which is an accomplishment even when not performing at a concert. He did tend to perform the last few bars of a song a cappella too much, which is standard fare at rap shows but still a little annoying.
After the set was over, Lil Yachty stuck around and played some other artists’ songs, just to party some. He played BlocBoy JB’s “Shoot,” Drake’s “God’s Plan,” Kendrick’s “m.A.A.d city” and XXXTENTACION’s “Look at Me!” — which thankfully the crowd here wasn’t very into.
Yachty said he had a bad headache during the set, but can a guy who’s voicing Green Lantern in the upcoming Teen Titans Go! movie ever have a bad time?
It seems like Vince also enjoyed himself and got along with Lil Yachty (what I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall for that conversation).
Today Lil Broat asked me why don’t I travel with security and I eloquently responded with “Because, Crip Gang”. — Vince Staples (@vincestaples) May 5, 2018