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Vic Mensa Concert Review

Vic Mensa
October 8th, 2015
Lied Center - Lawrence, KS

Vic Mensa went bodeine brazy in LFK
As time for doors approached and a line of students formed outside, the sun moved behind some eerie-looking clouds, creating a mysterious, exciting mood that would match up well with the two acts performing. An older security guard with a lisp made his way through the line announcing the rules and joked with my friend, telling him that he had a "funny looking cigarette" (one that he had just rolled himself). The doors opened and many fans hurriedly darted towards the front of the stage in the venue that was a bit big for an event this size.

Father was the only opening act, having been added to the show only a week before, much to the delight of a handful of fans. The Atlanta rapper specializes in dark and very sexual hip-hop. His new album "Who's Gonna Get Fucked First?" and many of the tracks on it should make that clear enough. He let loose a pretty evil cackle over the PA before finally emerging onstage. The first track was "Look At Wrist," one he shares with fellow Atlanta stars Key! and ILoveMakonnen. Although he only performed the portion he was on (that lasted about a minute), it was a good primer for the set. Father paced back and forth across the large stage for most of his performance, often swinging his body around when he reached one end.

While Father delivered an exceptional set, he could have worked a bit harder to connect with the many audience members who were not familiar with him. He could have shouted and jumped around more than he did, or utilized the stage lights (which may not have been up to him), but those are the only real gripes I had. Father is fun to watch though; his slurred, slow delivery mixed with his sneering, sarcastic tone in addition to multiple witty choruses are enough to make most hip-hop fans interested. After thirty minutes or so, Father whipped out his newest single "Everybody In The Club Gettin Shot," (his most energetic track of the evening) and then quietly left the stage.

Vic Mensa emerged as a part of Chicago's reinvigorated hip-hop scene in 2010. He was a member of the group Kids These Days that played a show I saw at The Bottleneck in early 2012 (which Vic mentioned being the last time he was in Kansas). Since then he has released a solo EP and a mixtape and is currently prepping for his first LP that will be released on Jay-Z's Roc Nation label. Since its announcement Vic has been dropping singles and touring his ass off.

All of the theater's lights went dark besides a set of bright red ones provided by the tour. Mensa's two touring musicians (equipped with a guitar, some drum machines, and some keyboards that I never really could hear) got set up and got the crowd excited while Kanye West's "All Day" played over the PA. After a couple minutes, Mensa strutted on out and proceeded to waste zero minutes of his hour long set. Mensa and his fans in front of the stage were immediately hopping up and down with bass rumbling the floor and stage lights and strobes set ablaze.

Mensa was smart in organizing his setlist if he did it on purpose. His first two songs were the worst of the evening. I'm not saying they're bad songs, but all of his other ones are better. The sheer excitement people had over him being there and the loud music and lights were a good cover for sneaking those in there so he could move on to the real crowd pleasers. Mensa's third song was Chance The Rapper's hit "Cocoa Butter Kisses" which Mensa was featured on. My brother later joked that he now didn't have to pay $40 to see Chance perform it next week. After that came the chilled out "Orange Soda" off of his mixtape Innanetape which was preceded by an on-screen clip of Kel from Kenan & Kel professing his love for the drink.

One of the moments that summed up the energy of the night was "No Chill," a recent Mensa single produced by "[his] n**** Skrillex." Mensa would wave his arms and shout "Practice?" with the crowd emphatically shouting back, "What the fuck is practice?" as the bass roared and the lights flashed. Another electric moment was a mid-set break to blast "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and jump around for no apparent reason. Vic is a real '90's baby.

You think Jay had him join the Illuminati?
"No Chill" was followed by all of the night's slower songs which included a somber reworking of Future's "Codeine Crazy," his Kanye collab "Wolves," and the very reflective "Holy Holy." Mensa's venture into bouncy dance-club pop "Down On My Luck" translated excellently into the live setting and improved my initially-low opinion of the song. Vic ended his night with his balls-to-the-walls banger "U Mad," which features a menacing horn loop and line after line of braggadocio and violence.

It was very pleasing as a rap fan to see two rappers from two enormous rap towns who have truly unique takes on what their cities are creating performing on the same bill. Father may not ever have a top 40 hit due to his crass nature, but will assuredly remain a semi-underground winner, and Vic Mensa only seems to keep rising on his way to being a household name. This one-off date was a thrill for all true Kansan hip-hop heads.

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