21 June 2012

The Weeknd, Live in Pittsburgh

posted by: Andy Live Reviews | Reviews

Everything that happened on June 19th was pretty fitting:

  1. Some of my friends finding themselves on stage pre-show because f**k rules.
  2. Opening DJ playing pre-recorded mixes and pressing buttons on his DJ-doohickey that didn’t actually do anything.
  3. A guy that may or may not have been my friend passing out because he may or may not have been doing something that may or may not be illegal to do.

I know what you’re asking yourself. “Does this have anything to do with the show you’re reviewing?” And my answer to you is, “Shut up. I’m writing the review, I ask the questions around here.”  But in all seriousness, they have everything to do with the show, because I had no idea what to expect coming into this performance. I did not expect any of those things to happen, and I certainly didn’t expect it to end up being the best live show I’ve ever seen.

Abel Tesfaye, dubbed the Songbird of Our Generation by a guy I talked to once, is one mysterious dude. We know he’s 22 years old and that he’s tight with Drake, but that’s about it. Wiki says he’s signed to Cash Money, but I doubt that that is true. His three critically acclaimed mixtapes (House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence) include a whole lot of sex, drugs, and RnB. And a little bit more sex and drugs. All three of his projects are great, but if you’ve listened to his music you realize why I had a hard time figuring out how the hell he was going to create a performance that would be anything but forgettable. His recorded music is just about anything but exciting, leaving me skeptical that he would be able to pull off that good of a live show.

Like I noted earlier, the opener was laughably bad. A hipster-DJ wearing a beret and cargos was not something I expected to witness in the flesh in my life, but #YOLO right? Wrong. He played mixes that he obviously made beforehand, including a track from Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album and the edited version of Wiz Khalifa’s “Say Yeah.” So you could say that I wasn’t in the highest of spirits immediately before Abel’s set.

It didn’t take long for me to get excited, though. The Weeknd’s live band strutted out to their instruments, and as soon as they started “High For This” the energy in the theater exploded. I was extremely impressed with the way that Abel was able to interact with the crowd without connecting with them too much, being consistent with his ruse of anonymity. He came strolling out onto the stage with an ear-to-ear grin on his face, getting crazy close to the fans but not close enough for the crazy white girls up front, as you can see in the video I took, below.

Speaking of the white girls, I’m not sure you can fathom the amount of thirst in that theater. Every single female that was their was ready and willing to poke a hole in a condom, from the 45 year old black woman next to me to the high school-age white girls in their homemade XO shirts in the front row. There were baby momma’s mommas in attendance that were ready to get down at the drop of a proverbial hat. Did I mention that the stereotype of white girls yelling the n-word during The Weeknd’s performance of “Crew Love” is absolutely true? None of them seemed to have a problem with it. But I digress.

That energy and excitement was consistent for the rest of the concert. The band and lightshow remained phenomenal throughout the show, exponentially adding to the energy of the show. Abel barely stayed still, hitting his falsettos and dampening women with a mere look. His voice was just as immaculate as I’d been skeptical that it was; it was really hard for me to believe that his vocals on The Trilogy weren’t adjusted in some way, but trust me they are not. His voice was near-perfect, and I only say “near” because calling it perfect is going to turn my ass to grass because someone will have a problem with that.

TL;DR? Fine. Just know that you don’t have to listen to The Weeknd to go to his concert and have a great time. The atmosphere that he creates makes it impossible to not enjoy yourself at least a little bit. Let me know how yours goes.

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