Video via someone else’s instagram, ioeno.
Last night the great Baton Rouge, LA rapper Kevin Gates performed to a sold out crowd at the New Parish in Oakland, CA. I’m going to try and write down the things I saw as quickly as possible because I can’t sleep. And because Gates’ moved through his set at a similar pace. It was like a stealth mission. He barreled onto the stage directly from the depths of the audience with a small posse in tow  and proceeded to run down eighteen of his songs – or at least recognizable enough fragments thereof – in under an hour.
He rocked over a mixture of pure instrumentals and prerecorded vocal tracks, the latter of which is typically a death knell for a rap performance but Gates rarely used them as a crutch. His natural voice sounded even raspier than usual and the layering effect created a sort of terrifying type of modulation that only served to amplify his gut wrenching demon styles. The room was small and loud (but not too loud) which suited the performance but also revealed the sameness of most of his beats. Or maybe it was that his DJ seemed to be cosntantly retriggering that damn one 1– / 1-2 slow thump kick pattern as a quasi-accapella prod for Gates to ratchet up the intensity. And ratchet it up he did and he continued to do so it was frequently magnificent.
Gates has a reputation for a particularly maudlin type of street rap – if his studio read of where was you when I was slumped over, gums hurting from an old bullet in front of the toilet while hunched over? didn’t already seem powerful enough imagine hearing those same words shouted back by a hundred or so die hard fans  – and on stage he is all of that. But he also proved capable of showing a looser side that maybe isn’t as obvious on record.
He’s a rapping-ass-rapper but also a performing-ass-performer, to an almost theatrical extent. His face telegraphs his emotions and only seems capable of forming shapes in cartoonish extremes – all broad grimaces and passionate gazes. He’s a full on heartthrob too and a legitimately hilarious comedian (as opposed to just rapper-funny), often at the same time. And the smallish but aggressive contingent of female fans were more than willing to to accommodate these impulses. When one reached on stage to try and touch his abs he launched into a whole routine about how he doesn’t have muscles, only pillows. This escalated to the logical punchline/taunt: “He strong as a motherfucker… but can he bench press a bullet?” And when another fan pushed her way to the stage to sing along with “Stop Lyin’” he passed her the mic before leaning out into the crowd and kissing her squarely on the lips.
After that the show didn’t so much end as dissolve. Gates first jumped into the crowd to half-rap his way though “IDGAF,” which is a song about not giving a fuck, then the DJ dropped the “Cut Her Off” freestyle while Gates used the smokescreen of the pack to slide directly out the venue’s side exit as his vocals still ran. I didn’t see where he went but I did overhear one woman’s lament: “Kevin outta line, getting in the Benz truck like that.” (Again!)
There are still a several dates left on the tour and you should go to all of them.
Setlist: “MYB” f/ Starlito / “Arm & Hammer” / “Narco Trafficante” / “Die Bout It”/ “4:30 AM” / “Strokin’” / “Go Hard” / “Would You Mind” / “Posed To be In Love” / “Thinkin’ With My Dick” / “Get Up On My Level” / “Smiling Faces” / “Stop Lyin’” (hook only) / “Again” (hook only) / “Don’t Know” / “Satellites” / “IDGAF” / “Cut Her Off (Freestyle)”
 Nestled in that entourage was none other than Starlito, who knocked out his “MYB” verse early then spent the rest of the show at the back of the stage staring into a double cup while looking paranoid and exhausted or just very high. If you’ve been paying attention to the themes in his recent music this will sound about right but it was still hard to not be a little disappointed that he didn’t do any solo shit. Check Lito’s Instagram for an accurate Wolfenstein type first person account of this non-performance.
Also in the building and not performing (to my knowledge): Eazle and Mistah Fab, who is everywhere. Wiz Khalifa bag boy Chevy Woods was on the underbill and I think I heard him open and close with “We Dem Boyz.” I can’t say for sure though as I decided to hide in the courtyard with the smokers for the duration of his set. Apparently I am not dem boy. Or is the smoking section precisely where dem boyz would and should be?
 As far as I can tell die hard Kevin Gates fans are the only Kevin Gates fans.