Orange County isn’t Los Angeles, but kinda, sorta. There’s no clear distinction when you leave the sprawl of Los Angeles County and hit the roads of Orange County, besides any street signs and, well, Disneyland. Further south, leaving Orange County for San Diego County needs no signs, considering there’s about 15 miles of undeveloped land, most of which is used for military training, separating the two.
So when ScHoolboy Q kicked off the first of two sold-out headlining gigs in Santa Ana on Tuesday night, home of the Orange County courts, jail, and other county-wide municipalities, we all knew what he meant when he said he was pretty much in L.A. and felt like a homecoming. And surely Schoolboy Q knew why we boo’d in response.
While Orange County residents may privately acknowledge that they’re just living in outer Los Angeles, publicly we have some pride when needed. Los Angeles already reclaimed our baseball team, but we’ll be damned if they just claim the entire county as part of theirs. Maybe this introduction led to the audience not being significantly “turnt up” enough for Q’s liking throughout the night, or maybe Q just tells every audience they’re quiet and need to jump more. Either way, it wasn’t necessarily a mistake to start the show in this manner, but just a very “L.A” thing to do. Usually a comment like this is followed by complaining the entire time one is in Orange County, and in that sense, Q actually toned it down.
This of course is a homecoming; after all, Q’s playing L.A. following these dates. He’s returned from the road with a triumphant No. 1 LP, a fact he touted within the opening minutes, and his celebrity is growing faster than any artist in recent memory — that includes his Top Dawg Entertainment label-mate, Kendrick Lamar. Currently, there’s a business aspect to his show that’s a little weird. TDE logos are commonplace and the bill’s quite expansive, including an unbilled female rapper that was quite good and Isaiah Rashad, who played the only set of significant length besides Q, showcasing some of the brand’s upcoming possibilities, besides the inevitable rises of Ab-Soul and Jay Rock.
With three LPs, Schoolboy Q has already a significant catalog of material to draw from, and though he is just coming into the general public’s attention, his performance felt like a greatest hits set, anchored by the strong Oxymoron material. “Hands of the Wheel” coming second inspired everyone to jump wildly along with Q, while a mid-set rendition of “Collard Greens” was easily the most exuberant moment of the night, leading to the eventual big finish with hit “Man of the Year” and the latest release’s title track. In the end, Schoolboy Q probably realized he wasn’t quite home yet by the audience’s relatively reserved response, and if not, the 40-minute drive home had to. Either way, it’s doubtful he makes the same comment to the audience tonight.