Vince Staples, Kodie Shane perform at sold-out A&O Ball


Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Vince Staples performs at A&O Ball. The rapper, who was voted the top choice for the event, performed for a full house.

Wilson Chapman, Reporter

Mounting a stage lit with LED lights, rapper Vince Staples performed at A&O Ball 2019 to a venue full of screaming audience members Friday night.

Staples was the winner of a poll A&O Productions sent to Northwestern students asking what musicians they wanted to see perform at Ball this year. Over half of the respondents requested the artist headline the show at Metro Chicago theater. The California-based rapper has been releasing music since 2011, and his three full length albums — “Summertime ’06,” “Big Fish Theory,” and “FM!,” — all received critical acclaim and appeared on numerous year-end lists of best albums.

A&O co-chair Isabella Soto told The Daily the concert sold out, and interest was so high that when A&O put unclaimed tickets back on sale, all of them were taken. Soto said it was a big accomplishment to get the most requested artist on the poll, and A&O was excited to have that opportunity.

“It’s pretty rare that we get to bring the artist that tops the poll, so that felt especially good, to be able to have someone who students really wanted to see,” Soto said.

Kodie Shane performs on Friday.

During Staples’ hourlong set, the rapper performed in front of a live feed of himself and the audience, and used disco and strobe lights for a visually dynamic performance. The rapper encouraged audience participation several times; near the beginning of his set, he told the audience to “give it up” for the opening act, and during one song instructed everyone to clap with their hands in the air, resulting in a full minute of nearly every person in the theater clapping along to the beat.

After Staples’ set, the show concluded with footage of late rapper Mac Miller performing as a tribute to him. Staples was friends with Miller, who died last year, and the two collaborated on a mixtape, “Stolen Youth,” in 2013.

Atlanta-based artist Kodie Shane performed the opening set. A 20-year old rapper, Shane released her debut song “Sad,” in 2016, and in 2018 released her first full-length album, “Young HeartThrob.” Soto told the Daily a lot of A&O members were fans of Shane and were excited to have her perform.

“Getting to support a Black, LGBTQ+ identifying woman artist is something we were thrilled to be able to do with the lineup,” Soto said.

During her hourlong set, Shane improvised many times, such as calling out to audience members who were just arriving and holding hands with a fan during one song. Near the end of her set, she stopped shortly after beginning a song and told the audience they needed to take out their phones, turn on the flashlight and wave them in the air. She then called out people on the balcony level of the theater for not doing it, saying they weren’t “special” and that she wanted everyone to join in.

When the song was over, she said this audience might be her favorite ever, because no audience before had kept waving their phones for the entire song.

“A lot of you didn’t know who the f–k I was when I walked on stage,” Shane said. “But this turned out to be so much fun.”

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer
The audience cheers during the performance.

Earlier in her set, Shane handed out red flowers to audience members in the front row during two of her songs. McCormick first-year Mathias Reweta was one of the audience members who received a flower from Shane, though he told The Daily it got trampled by the dancing audience members during the show.

Reweta said he was a fan of Staples before the show, and even though he didn’t know Shane’s music, he was going to start listening to her because he was so impressed by her set. Reweta said the show approached the quality of concerts he had paid to attend.

“It was amazing,” Reweta said. “I cannot believe I came here for free.”

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