I Went to a Pusha T and Vince Staples Concert with My Mom and Dad
“I’m not sure the hearing loss I’ve experienced is worth it.”
This past weekend, Pusha T and Vince Staples played a concert in Brooklyn at the House of Vans, a warehouse space in Williamsburg. Also this past weekend, my mom and dad visited New York City. Because Pusha T is one of my favorite rappers of all time and Vince Staples is one of my favorite rappers right now, I decided to bring my parents to the rap show.
Some background on the evening’s performance: The concert was one of the better rap shows I’ve been to in awhile. Vince, on the cusp of the release of his debut record Summertime ’06, bounced around the stage full of energy, playing a bunch of new shit that the crowd didn’t really know but still vibed to. Pusha T played the same set he’s been playing for the past two years, but it’s banger after banger after banger, so who cares and I was left satisfied (I still would like to see him do “Hold On” for the Kanye yelps, but whatever.)
Some background on my parents: They’re in their late 50s and have been married for over 30 years. My father worked as a portrait photographer for over 30 years and my mom was the manager of the studio. Originally from Iowa, they have since retired to Colorado. Out the window of their beautiful house in the mountains is a very large red cliff and a very cold river. The only way to describe it is to say it’s like a photo you’d find inside a National Geographic. They are cycling enthusiasts, and my mom spends her days teaching yoga and my dad spends his days working on his deck (I also saw him once take a nap at 11:30 in the morning on a Tuesday, which to me is the definition of retirement). They live the best life anyone can live. I love them very much.
They’re also music enthusiasts. On a shelf in my apartment sits a stack of vinyl I stole from my dad when I moved to New York. He’s the one who taught me about all the music your dad teaches you about when you grow up—the Beatles, the Bob Dylans, the Allman Brothers, the Neil Youngs, etc. When I told him I interviewed Robert Plant, he told all of his friends and I became famous in a small social circle in Colorado. My mom also loves music—when I visit them she’s always proudly bringing me to outdoor concerts and places where we can see dudes play guitars. (Last year, we caught Grand Funk Railroad in Aspen.) In July, they both plan to attend the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. And, yes, they will be camping.
It also might go without saying that they aren’t really into rap music. Not out of complete ignorance—I’ve definitely played them some Kanye before—but just because they determined it’s not for them. And that’s cool! I don’t really know anybody who’s over the age of 50 who’s super into Odd Future. Generations exist for a reason, and that’s why I thought it’d be fun to bring them to a rap concert.
Here are some select notes I took during the performance. I’m not going to credit them to either my mom or dad because I don’t remember who said what. It should be noted that there was a lot of free booze involved.
“I have a question about fashion. Is side boob the new cleavage?”
“I heard there was free booze. What happens?”
“Why do I feel like I’m at prom?”
“I’m not sure the hearing loss I’ve experienced is worth it.”
“Did he ask if we don’t fuck with the police?”
Pusha T. Photo by Laura June Kirsch
It’s also worth noting that when Vince Staples ordered the crowd to put their hands up if they “don’t fuck with the police,” my father put his hands up. I was a bit surprised by this action because my dad (who also volunteered as a firefighter in small town Iowa for 30 years) typically supports rescue workers fervently. Confused, I asked him why he put his hands up. “I don’t fuck with the police,” he told me, simply. I then explained to him that to “not fuck with something” was slang for not agreeing with it. He laughed, realized his mistake, and put his hands down.
My parents, being the great sports that they are, let me interview them about the concert the next day over brunch. This is what they had to say.
What were your overall impressions of the concert?
Mom: I thought it was good. It was the first rap concert I’ve ever been to and it was in New York and it felt very New York to me.
So you’ve never been to a rap concert before?
Dad: Not intentionally.
Mom: It felt like something I’d see on TV that I was apart of, which was fun and different and I always to explore new things so it was fun.
Dad: Doing what I did for a living, I had the opportunity to attend a lot of high school proms, so aside from the language and the message, I kind of felt like I was at high school prom. Lots of music. Lots of screaming. Lots of hands in the air.
Did you like Pusha T or Vince Staples more?
Mom: Pusha T.
Dad: What was the difference? [Laughs.]
Why did you like Pusha T more?
Mom: I thought he gave a better show, had more energy. I don’t know. I still would prefer to have more of a beat to dance to because I didn’t really feel like that was created there. You know? A lot of it is just talking, and giving a message and I understand that’s important, but I also like to dance. I’d prefer to have more of a dance beat. I don’t know if all rap is like that concert.
Vince Staples. Photo by Laura June Kirsch
No, not all rap is like that. Those two guys are definitely focused on the message of their lyrics versus club bangers.
Mom: Yeah, so I had a hard time understanding what he was saying. Maybe it’s a generational thing. I’m assuming the kids that were there in their 20s and 30s could understand what he was saying.
Dad: I think so too, because he would say something that I couldn’t understand and the crowd goes nuts.
Mom: It’s kind of like a different language—it’s like learning a new language, you know?
Dad: I think I said this to you last night, but here are the parts I understood: “blah, blah, blah, blah, mother fucker, blah blah, fuck, fuck, blah, blah, blah.” That’s what I understood. [Editor’s Note: To be fair, the venue was quite loud and even I didn’t understand what they were saying, so if you don’t know the lyrics to the songs, it’s probably pretty difficult.]
Yeah, that makes sense.
Mom: I’m really glad we went and experienced it, though.
Dad: Oh yeah.
Mom: It was something new.
What did you think it was going to be like going into it?
Mom: Like it was.
Dad: Exactly what it was. Loud thumping and rapping into the microphone. In the back of my mind, I was maybe expecting a dissing of the police or authority in general, and that’s fine. I’m not saying everyone has to agree with my opinion. If you’re trying to make peace with people in the world, with the people, with the police, maybe don’t do it that way. But I'm open to different opinions. I’m trying to not be my dad and my mom. I’m trying to keep an open mind about all of this. That’s probably the last rap concert I’ll ever go to. I don’t like the music. I come from the 60s and 70s and 80s. Classic rock. That’s my thing. Go forth and have your fun, kids. Me and the other geezers will crank up the Cat Stevens, the Bob Dylans, the Peter, Paul, and Mary.
Eric Sundermann loves Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, Pusha T, and Vince Staples. Follow him on Twitter.