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April 29, 2014

North Side Weekly

Last Tuesday, I dropped a few dead presidents on one of the most exciting shows I’ve ever been to. I was in Wrigleyville, which is usually a neighborhood I can’t stand because it’s the Chicago equivalent of a frat party 24/7, which sounds (and is) absolutely miserable. However, Metro, a concert venue off North Clark Street, is completely different—and way better. ScHoolboy Q’s Oxymoron tour with supporting acts Isaiah Rashad and Vince Staples had finally rolled into town to promote the headliner’s new chart-topping, goofy-yet-gangster album Oxymoron. The lineup struck a perfect balance between drug-fueled party songs via Q and the more introspective wordplay of Rashad.

The show started at 8 p.m., so we rolled in at 8:30 p.m. because parking is hard and it’s at least a little cool to show up late to a sold-out gig. The haze and distinct aroma of hundreds of blunts hit me first, then the music. Vince Staples was halfway through his set, which is alright because I don’t know much of his work beyond some great features on Earl Sweatshirt’s Doris. The pit was getting packed and there were more bucket hats than your grandpa’s last retirement home–sponsored fishing trip. We’re all rhythmically bobbing to the beat with the kind of bass that rumbles in your stomach and convinces you that mankind is so close to discovering and musically incorporating the brown note. Following Staples we moved further into the pit, in time for the incredibly talented Isaiah Rashad, who murdered his set, getting the crowd to go absolutely insane with songs like “R.I.P. Kevin Miller” and “Shot U Down.” Rashad’s stage presence was on point, complete with crowd surfing, stage diving, water spraying, and high-quality moshing. The audience didn’t need much more encouragement to get fully turnt up, fragrant with l’eau de weed et sweat. Jean Deux came out to perform her feature on “Menthol,” a track with a beat more buttery than Paula Dean’s pound cake. Rashad wrapped up his set by playing tunes aimed at sustaining the excitement for the headliner, including Kendrick Lamar’s “Backseat Freestyle,” Yeezy’s “Blood on the Leaves,” and the gangsta anthem “I Don’t Like” by the allegedly-airwaves polluting South Side native Chief Keef. When the bass dropped on the latter, people were bumpin’ hard and there wasn’t even anyone on the stage save for a DJ busily rolling a joint.

Q stepped out in a black hoodie and a textured leopard-print bucket hat, and if that’s not the pinnacle of patterned men’s headwear, I don’t know what is. The last time I saw someone famous wear a bucket hat might’ve been on that show *Deadliest Catch* but those dudes got nothin’ on the Q. He was accompanied by a Kimbo Slice doppelgänger who was a looming mountain of muscle that didn’t blink during the entire set and just looked tough as hell for 90 minutes.

Q opened with “What They Want,” which features a 2 Chainz verse that is straight fire and got the crowd to instantly go off. He followed it up with ‘Hell of a Night’ and ‘The Purge,’ which includes a menacing hook by Tyler, The Creator tucked between the sound of approaching sirens and later the attire-appropriate lyric “bucket hat with my shades on, my wardrobe look awesome/ Now nah, I ain’t on no dolphin, fuck rhyming, I’m Cripping.” This is my first column where while reporting I was stone-cold sober for the entire time, although I had a $12 beer at Avec earlier that day which was embarrassing for everyone involved. Despite sobriety, the rest of the show is a haze of tracks off of Oxymoron and his older stuff. I will say that when Q started blasting “m.A.A.d City” the King Kendrick stalkan in me came out hard and I thought he might cameo, but, alas, it was not meant to be. He took a minute to genuinely thank the fans, stating, “Hip hop didn’t save my life, my fans saved my life” before ending with his debauchery-laden smash hit and absolute banger “Man of the Year.” By this time, I was dehydrated, sweaty, and slightly bruised.

If you’re going to Wrigleyville, avoid the plethora of bad bars, but definitely check out the intense bars and beats at Metro, a fantastic venue which is both small enough to feel personal and large enough for everyone to vibe in (but bring your own water because otherwise it’ll run you three greenbacks).

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