How youth-oriented were the last couple acts on the big stage for the Austin City Limits Music Festival on Sunday? Before Vince Staples’ 6 p.m. set, the chair zone, often an impassable maze, was a barren wasteland scattered with blankets and just a handful of camp chairs. Meanwhile a steady stream of young people, many rocking Travis Scott tees, raced across the field toward the stage.
Staples doesn't play hype man. Dry sarcasm is his calling card. “For the next 50 minutes, as my contract says, we're stuck with each other,” he said at the top of his set before launching into his unprintable hit, “Get the (expletive) Off My (expletive).”
He's the opposite of a mumble rapper, and as he prowled the stage, his sharp flow painted a stark picture of a dystopian reality faced by young black men in America. He spits aggressively over sparse and moody beats that split the difference between trap and EDM. Dark party tracks like “Big Fish” and the Major Lazer-assisted “Ghost” resonated with a young audience who pushed forward to see him.
“You having a good time, Austin?” the 25-year-old Long Beach rapper asked the audience halfway through the set. “Cool that was sweet of you. That was polite,” he deadpanned as they cheered.
Pogo jumping and mosh pits have become requisite elements in modern hip-hop and late in his set, Staples informed the audience we had hit the “part of the show where you move around and hit somebody.”
“But don't hurt nobody. Protect the women,” he said.
Then he kicked into one of his breakthrough tracks, “Blue Suede,” chased by another early banger, “Norf Norf.”
He took the set out on a high note with “Yeah Right,” closing by telling the audience he hoped they enjoyed the show, but letting them know he wasn’t particularly concerned either way.
“If you didn't, I'm sorry," he said. "I don't know what to tell you.”
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