The Club Paradise Tour, as it’s been named, also touted two of the hottest artists in the game as openers. A$AP Rocky has garnered acclaim with his track “Peso” and the mixtape Live.Love.A$AP. His style is equal parts Harlem and Houston, so I was surprised by how few people seemed as excited as I was to hear him. But by the time he was done, purple swag had washed over the venue — bass-heavy, syrupy-thick beats, and rhymes about drugs and liquor. I’m sure they know who he is now.
Next up was Kendrick Lamar, another young gun who’s projected to hit it big real soon. He kicked off his set with a track he did for Drake’s latest album — a wise choice, as it allowed the droves of Drake fans to experience the epiphany of “Oh, Kendrick Lamar does this song? This is my jam!” Lamar blasted through his set, snarling lyrics from behind the mic. At least 40 percent of his set was a cappella, a feat that few MC’s can aptly pull off, and one that Lamar executed with old-school swagger and new-school determination.
A six-piece ensemble backed him: a headphone-wielding DJ at a booth, two separate synth/key stations, a bassist, drum kit, and the ever-popular dreadlocked guitarist churning out cheesy, overblown riffs. The live instrumentation added a different layer to many of the tracks. The fluidity of some slightly improvised bass licks made for some great moments during tracks like “Over.”
As “Miss Me” ended, Drake turned the lights on the audience and spent a good 10 minutes pointing out different people in the crowd, complimenting their clothes, commenting on their age. Once, he just shouted, “I see you back there in the white shirt under the Price Chopper sign!”
He finished out the night with two of his biggest tracks, “The Motto” and the unbelievably pompous “Headlines.” But when Drake is unbelievably pompous, it's not without reason. The crowd Thursday night was living, breathing, writhing proof of that.
I’m on One
Take a Shot for Me
I’m Goin In
We’ll Be Fine
Round of Applause
Good Ones Go
Look What You’ve Done
Make Me Proud