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Concert Review: The Weeknd, ScHoolboy Q & Jhene Aiko – 9/21/14

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Concert Review: The Weeknd, ScHoolboy Q & Jhene Aiko – 9/21/14

weekndcoverWith only four stops to complete the brief King of The Fall tour, the anticipation from fans to see The Weeknd take the stage had exceeded new marks since the tour was first announced. As a long time fan who had never seen the artist perform live, I finally had the pleasure of hearing the hypnotic vocals from the Canada-born singer in Toronto. To accompany The Weeknd on the tour, Jhene Aiko opened the show with TDE rapper, ScHoolboy Q, following after. The combination of vibes from each artist and the energy of the crowd at the Molson Ampitheatre made for an unforgettable experience.

As I heard the distinctive vocals of singer, Jhene Aiko, emerge into the bathroom, I couldn’t help but grow excited behind a bathroom stall. With my friend and I choosing to urinate at the incorrect time, I had the pleasure of hearing the opening song of the show while on a toilet. The singer chose to perform the single “Love and Let Die” from her recently released album Souled Out. The rest of her performance was a mixture of hits from Sail Out and Sailed Out. A favorite moment for the entire crowd and myself was the singer performing a solo version of the well-admired song, “From Time.” Other favorites included “Stay Ready (What A Lie)” where the crowd got to hear the singer channel her inner rapper and perform Kendrick’s verses as well. Comparing to past performances (although I haven’t witnessed it live) Jhene Aiko has improved greatly. It was clear she made it a point to bring more energy to the stage due to past comments claiming that the singer veers toward boring performances. She even hopped in circles at one point making fans question if she did cocaine in the back with The Weeknd and the XO crew. All jokes aside, her naturalness on the stage was enjoyable. Vocally, though, the singer lacked for me. Her pitch was noticeably lower which was slightly disappointing. While I’m no Dr. Oz, I will say that her speaking voice was also comparably lower which leads me to believe she may have just been sick or nervous. Overall, the performance was a nice opener to warm up the crowd for the following performances.

With a huge switch in energy and pace, ScHoolboy Q then took the stage after Jhene Aiko. His performance was a major transition from the soothing vibes of Jhene Aiko, but in a very enjoyable manner. The decision to include the singer and rapper was a smart one as it would mirror both the energies The Weeknd would end up bringing himself. Additionally, I made a huge transition myself during the performance. As I tried to sneak to a lower level, I kept trying to body-check a fan who wouldn’t move out of the way. Eventually I realized this was not a fan, but, instead an employee checking for tickets of guests who wanted to take their seat. As you can imagine, it was very unfortunate for me to try and turn into The Undertaker on a staff member. Fortunately, I wasn’t kicked out. As a second attempt, I eventually slid through as the woman checked someone else’s tickets. This allowed me to see ScHoolboy Q’s and The Weeknd’s performances at a nicer range. Anyway, his setlist not only included the obvious selections from Oxymoron, but also even went back to Setbacks for the die-hard fans. As a major fan of ScHoolboy Q myself, I still have to say my favorite moments included the popular hits being played. The energy from the crowd and rapper during bangers like “Man of The Year” and “Collard Greens” will be very memorable. What makes ScHoolboy Q such an admirable artist is he puts his heart on the stage and gives his all during each song. No matter what the content of the song is, the TDE rapper puts forth the energy to perform each song in the most pleasing manner for the crowd.

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The stage was rid of lighting, and the vocals of the alternative R&B singer began to project from the speakers in complete darkness. The performance was opened with the song “Enemy.” Before entering the stage, The Weeknd continued on singing to further the anxiousness among the crowd. The set was beautifully crafted with projected images and clips being continually displayed as the background for the stage. When the images were off, the live band was revealed. They sat elevated at a significantly higher height. I have to remark that the band needs to be accredited for contributing to such a great show because the guitarist and drummer electrified every song. Hearing live instrumentals compares to nothing; especially with songs from The Weeknd, whose music is heavy on unique drum patterns and guitar riffs.  The performance transitioned into “What You Need” which was a major crowd pleaser. The high notes of the hook were hit remarkably. Bouncing from projects, the popular tune “Professional” from Kissland followed. Throughout the show, The Weeknd transitioned continually through every project but primarily stayed within the realms of The Trilogy. This is obvious, as the three mixtapes contain more songs than the last released album. One of the most memorable moments includes the singer performing “Crew Love.” This radio hit, which is rightfully one, turned the crowd up dramatically. The Weeknd also even danced somewhat crazily as he performed this hit, which was refreshing coming from an otherwise seemingly relaxed performer.

Two major songs that stood out were “Wanderlust” and “The Birds (Part 1)” due to the fact that the live band was able to shine through more dramatically with the instrumentals being so focused. “The Knowing”, which I had been ridiculously anxious to hear performed, was finally performed about midway through the show. This was a monumental performance for me, as it is the one of the song Abel blatantly states his emotions in the lyricism. The emotion that was evoked through his voice was everything it could’ve been.  It felt as if the singer was releasing his vulnerability and letting the pain take the stage. My other favorites included “Twenty Eight” and “Loft Music.” The song that the crowd assumed would close the show was “Wicked Games.” Before performing this, Abel asked that everyone stick their lighters in the air. Since not everyone was a stoner, other fans lifted their phones in the air as the singer had also asked for. Thousands of lighters and phones took the air and lit up the dark venue as The Weeknd performed the haunting vocals of the classic tune. During those minutes the venue felt significantly more intimate and the vibes were incomparable. With the song ending and darkness taking the stage, the crowd began to chant “Often” in unison. Alas, The Weeknd came out to perform an encore song. He selected “Or Nah (Remix)” which obviously teased the crowd. Ridding anybody of disappointment, he still performed “Often” right after which arguably pleased the crowd the most.

Overall, I was very pleased with the show put on. The set, stage production and live band all in conjunction with The Weeknd’s performance was amazing. I do wish that “Valerie” and “Echoes of Silence” were performed as both songs showcase Abel’s raw vocals and controlled melodies more clearly. Aside from that minor discrepancy, this show was one I was very content with. What made The Weeknd’s performance such a great experience was his energy and passion for each song. He made it a point to interject between songs to acknowledge the fans, especially those seated further back. The singing mirrored his voice on studio versions of the projects which is, unfortunately, not always promised by artists. His comfort with performing and overall stage presence showcased genuineness confidence. It is always satisfying to know that such a major artist can remain humble even at the point of his career. The crowd had the pleasure of hearing more than just words and sounds. They got to hear and see emotion and art on the stage.

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