“Would You Like a Tour?” Apparently, the answer is a resounding yes. Pittsburgh became party central on October 18, 2013 as Drake began his tour in the Steel City amidst a crowd starving for a good time. As the second major act to open a big tour here in one week (the other being Pearl Jam), Pittsburgh is starting to feel like a launching point for big acts to get their traveling circuses on the road. But this night was unlike anything this reporter has ever seen.
Coming out from the photographers holding area I was immediately amazed by the party atmosphere that was happening all around. It’s not the stereotypes of marijuana and alcohol, because that happens at plenty of shows. It was more the setup of Consol Energy Center that night and the amount of people with a drink in their hand and actually feeling like you were at a party. On the sides of the stage was an area that was standing room only that seemed like a backstage soiree. Everyone was on their feet, mingling, talking, dancing, and that was before Drake even came on.Behind the soundboard was a platform for a VIP section as well which had it’s own celebration happening. Of course the seats in every direction were filled with a very diverse crowd ready to let loose. Opener Miguel got the throng going with his brand of R & B with huge enthusiasm from Pittsburgh. But of course they all came to see Drake. With a very open stage, with a futuristic centered circular clam-like structure with varying levels and bottom lit, along with a huge backscreen, the curtain withdrew and the anticipation was palpable.
From the depths of the stage Drake rose and the event truly began. The bass was so booming that the ground underneath your feet literally was moving, almost forcing you to move. The ganja was in high gear as was the alcohol at full flow for the work weary crowd. The party was peaking at the perfect moment and all hands went up as legs and hips moved about in abandon. Drake sang in a silhouetted type state as the backscreen projected an extremely bright melange of pinks and blues. Opening up with “Tuscan Leather,” Headlines” and “Crew Love” he moved like a snake ready to strike, poisonous and dangerous, but beautiful at the same time.
The known guest highlight of the evening almost did not happen. Just before the tour, Atlanta rapper Future, made some remarks regarding Drake’s new album prompting Drake to throw him off the tour and reportedly having Future readying a $1.5 million dollar lawsuit in return for lost wages. All seemed to be patched up though as Drake introduced Future as “his brother”. And then it was on. The crowd went nuts and Future got it amped up just a bit more, including what seemed like his biggest fan, Drake. “Same Damn Time” was a massive sing and dance-a-thon as the thumping shook the rafters.
What is most striking about Drake’s fans is that they hang on and know every word of every song. Drake is particularly known for his lyricism, prompting Lil Wayne to say, “I can tell, you know, I don’t know nothing else out there that can touch it, including my stuff. That kid is on another planet.” Some of those tunes he belted out were (surprisingly) a cover of A$AP Rocky’s “[Expletive Problems]”, his own “HYFR, “The Motion”, duets with Jhene Aiko for “Come Thru” and “From Time” , “Hold On”, “We’re Going Home” and “Connect.”
But the huge highlight of the evening, at least for a hometown Pittsburgh crowd, was the appearance of the beloved Wiz Khalifa as he came out for “Black and Yellow” with Drake. Talk about everyone going nuts. Maybe Drake heard Pearl Jam brought Jason Grilli on stage last week and wanted to one up them?
All photos ©2013 AWeldingphoto and Pittsburgh Music Magazine (shot from the soundboard, first 2 songs only)