Vince Staples is "War Ready" at House of Blues

February 28, 2019 | By Christian Kwok

Vince Staples—a name synonymous with aggressive lyrical mastery and the Los Angeles-based city of “Norfside,” Long Beach—graced the stage at the House of Blues on Feb. 25. His tour, “Smile, You’re on Camera,” showcased songs from widely-proclaimed studio albums, “Big Fish Theory” and “FM!,” as well as his debut double album, “Summertime ‘06.”


Photo Courtesy of Ben Stas

Donning a black FM! tour hoodie and taut black jeans, Staples ran onstage to the developing melodic progressions of “Feels Like Summer!,” the lead single off of studio album “FM!.” The audience was at  Staples’ fingertips. “Feels Like Summer!” served well as Staples’ opening song, given its swift, engaging production. The track allowed for Staples to perfectly transition into both “Don’t Get Chipped,” and the cryptically-enchanting “Lift Me Up,” from “Summertime ‘06.” As he shouted to his audience in between verses, Staples received a lot of love from the anxious Boston crowd, who waited in brisk, piercing winds outside of the venue for the performer. 

Staples’ verses connect with his predominantly college-based fans. With his signature production that is unique from other rappers in this generation, fans found themselves entranced in Staples’ concert performance.

Staples pranced around the stage, parading his professionalism; the composure he placed in himself was seen and heard through his cocky, yet perfectly rehearsed pronunciation. With this same demeanor, Staples claimed his ownership of the venue—you can tell he was right at home. 

Staples performed a well-flowing mix of his more popular songs from “FM!,” including “War Ready,” “Relay,” and “FUN!,” as well as songs that established Staples’ reputation as a rapper—“Señorita,” “745,” and “Big Fish,” to name a few. 

For the duration of the twenty-song performance, Staples was in control of the audience, while still seeming to understand that the crowd’s high energy would have to conclude at some point. 

At the end of his performance, smoke and darkness encompassed the stage, while the droning introductions to one of Staples’ most popular songs, “Norf Norf” received a heavy roar of buzz from the audience. With the audience’s full attention, Staples served up verses alongside the crowd’s commotion, their energy fully restored and at the forefront.

As “Norf Norf” concluded, the crowd was still ready for one final instance of fervor. The stage dimmed, but no introduction was needed for this final song. Staples rapped into the mic, his lips closer to the mic’s metal dome than during the rest of the performance.

Staples: “Boy yeah right, yeah right, yeah right.” 

Audience: “Boy yeah right, yeah right, yeah right.” 

Staples [louder]: “Boy yeah right, yeah right, yeah right.” 

Audience [louder]: “Boy yeah right, yeah right, yeah right.” 

Staples rapped “Yeah Right,” a song off of 2017’s “Big Fish Theory,” with a studio-quality performance, never missing a beat. The crowd huddled in close, enjoying the last seconds of Staples’ banger, all singing in unison.


As the final verse of “Yeah Right” concluded, the visual screen illuminated to Mac Miller’s Tiny Desk concert at NPR, concluding his show with a tribute to the late rapper—an honest, yet perfectly executed way for Vince Staples to finish his undoubtedly veteran performance.


Simmie Sims III, known professionally as Buddy, opened for Staples with three singles from his 2018 album, “Harlan & Alondra,” which included features from Ty Dolla $ign, Khalid, and A$AP Ferg. Another Long Beach-based rapper, Buddy has worked with many prominent artists from an early age, including Pharrell Williams, Kendrick Lamar, and A$AP Rocky, amongst others. Buddy ran an uptempo opening act, his unwavering pursuit of performance not allowing the crowd to slow down. 

Philadelphia-based rapper Armani White also served as an opening act for Staples, and will join Staples for two upcoming concerts in New Haven and Montreal before headlining his own shows in mid-summer. White performed several of his new songs, including his latest single, “Onederful.” White tossed fun-sized bags of Fruit Snacks to the audience, carrying his act outside during the fire alarm, before returning back to the stage, bodysurfing with his accompanying producer.