A full moon adorned the sky above Storke Tower Saturday as UCSB students lined up to witness Vic Mensa take the stage. As all full moons foreshadow, the night began a tad weird as Community Service Officers (CSOs) allowed eager students to sprint to the unoccupied stage before being forced back into the line for an additional 30 minutes. As if that false alarm was not irritating enough, a serious nerve was struck with the ladies and gentlemen occupying the first places in line. A mere two minutes before entry, CSOs declared absolutely no bags were allowed in spite of the advertisement reading “no large bags.” After disputing with CSOs and later police, UCSB students darted to the stage with their backpacks and purses in tow to see the rising star.
Fittingly, the “Welcome Back” concert’s opening DJ introduced himself as a UCSB alum before jumping into set. The crowd welcomed him with flinging arms and bodily thrusts from the waist up. Diplo’s “Express Yourself” spurred a sea of hip-winding and hand-clapping. Not to be outdone, however, a remix to Kendrick Lamar’s “Backstreet Freestyle” and A$AP Ferg’s “Work” won cheers and instantaneous jumping. In spite of such reactions, faces of relief exchanged glances as the opener was notified of his two-minute mark. The student body replaced the DJ’s presence by “Mensa” chants and raised hands as Kanye West’s “All Day” blared through the speakers.
The Chicago native donned perfect denim and a nude distressed t-shirt that read “DEAD” as he took his place on the stage to the bouncy beat of his hit, “Feel That.” The feel good tune earned sudden shouts as its title popped up on a screen in red writing and was quickly accompanied by the rapper. Not yet an entire song into his set, and an infatuated concertgoer maneuvered her way to the stage, where she would later return. More entertained than annoyed, Mensa continued to wonder the crowd. As the bass dropped, his knee to chest jumps encouraged the crowd to get off of their feet.
As “Feel That” came to a close, the Roc Nation signee’s hit “U Mad” dropped, igniting fights for the front row. In an instant, the track stopped and was met by Mensa announcing, “it’s too early for that” with a sweet smirk before transitioning into a more mellow tune. Afterwards, bodies rocked back and forth as Chance the Rapper’s “Cocoa Butter Kisses” soared throughout Storke Tower. Keeping with the relaxed theme, the rapper broke into the fun yet soothing track “Orange Soda” from his mixtape titled “Innanetape.” In spite of the beat’s tranquil vibes, it did not stop the rowdy onlookers from forcing the stage barrier a few inches forward.
Mensa proved he is more than a rapper as his set unfolded ballads, rock and roll influences and autotune. Traffic signs adorned the stage as the lyricist grasped the microphone stand with both hands to perform “Codeine Crazy” by Future with dimmed lights. Showing no chill, as he performed his song by the same name, UCSB students anchored themselves in palm trees for an improved view of the young artist.
To the pleasure of second-year Starr Sanford, who revealed she had high hopes for a performance of Mensa’s single, “Holy Holy,” the rapper dimmed the lights for the best segment of the night. The 21-year-old’s eyes paced the crowd as the lyrics to “Holy Holy” rolled off of his tongue. The sadness and self-reflection conveyed by his blank gaze into the crowd calmed the spectators. The somber yet honest record summoned closed eyes and peaceful sways in an unexpected moment of paralysis.
Not one to leave his fans in a somber mood, Mensa ended the show on a much more exciting note with his hit single, “U Mad.” The shirtless star leaped on and off the stage in true rock star fashion while the bass rattled the ears of the attendees before bidding farewell.
The Daily Nexus caught up with Sanford to hear her reaction to the show and the performance of her favorite song, “Honestly, I can’t even describe what I felt. At first, it was shock and then it felt like I was on a body high; it was exhilarating.
To hear more from the rising star, check Vic Mensa out on Soundcloud and download his most recent mixtape, Innanetape.