Last year, when Drake hit the road to support Take Care, he ended up headlining the highest grossing rap tour of 2012. The critically revered Club Paradise tour earned $42 million worldwide and included guest appearances from Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Meek Mill and 2 Chainz. It will likely be remembered as a strongly influential moment in rap culture, the way that today's old heads wax nostalgic about the '99 Roc-a-fella Records Hard Knock Life tour or the first Rock The Bells concert.
So the now 27-year-old Canadian rapper faced some high expectations for his 2013 follow-up road show. With what is easily the most cheeky and adorable tour name in the history of music- Would You Like A Tour? is currently chugging Drake, Miguel and Future along on a 54 city run. It hasn't been without its bumps along the way, but the show made a fairly grandiose stop in Dallas last night.
Future made do with a sliver of the front stage, he and his DJ performing directly in front of black tarps draped over Miguel's full band setup. The packed house at American Airlines Center didn't seem to mind one bit as they threw their arms and elbows to hits like "Turn on the Lights", "Looove Song" and "Honest." After seeing Future headline Fader Fort at SXSW this year, it was disheartening to seem him given as little space to perform. The amount of stage he was given to work was comparable to what local radio or club deejays are usually allotted at these big arena shows. Nonetheless, his live set continues to impress. On the brink of his next album, Future really seems to be on an upswing both creatively and as a performer.
After seeing what Miguel's stage set up look like all fired up, one had to wonder if Future's meager accommodations were out of spite. A flashing technicolor platform complete with a trap door through which Miguel rose from beneath the stage seemed more akin to the pomp and circumstance you'd expect from a tour that has a question mark in its title.
His four piece backing band was a high point of the evening, interpolating Pharoahe Monch's "Simon Sez" in "How Many Drinks?" Miguel himself even showed his chops when he grabbed the guitar for a song. He's got a few great records in his repertoire, and there's no denying his talent. But for the most part, he exhibited zero percent chill for the entire set. He wore a leather jacket with a black feather seam down the side of the sleeves so that his silhouette resembled some kind of overtly sexual bird-man. He told "all the beautiful women" in the audience that he hoped when they went home that night "alone in [their] beds," that they would masturbate and think of him. What girl hasn't had that leaping, aggressive, avian-incubus fantasy?
Despite taking the stage about 25 minute late, Drake's set went off without a hitch. The curtain fell on a huge circular white and mirrored stage, the opening bars of "Tuscan Leather" started up, and the crowd went wild. After rattling through a few off the new album, Drake advised us that the party would officially start before going into his verse off French Montana's "Pop That", while a visuals of red, black, and white old-timey cartoon lady butts wagged on a panoramic jumbotron- pyrotechnic flames burst from upstage. A few songs later, he announced that, since he was in Texas, he wanted to keep it real Cash Money. The words "Cash Money takin' over for the 99 and the 2000s" were uttered, and Juvenile walked out onstage to bless the crowd with the seminal southern rap ass shaking anthem "Back That Azz Up."
Juvenile wouldn't be the only guest, either. Future came back out and performed "Same Damn Time" while Drake jumped around, for some reason. The incredibly babely and angel-voiced Jhene Aiko took the stage to assist for a couple of songs, including the absolutely gorgeous "From Time." At the end of "Hold On We're Going Home", Drake brought out an Australian contest winner who had won tickets to see him anywhere in the world and chose Dallas. He serenaded the wistful blonde intimately, and kissed her twice on the forehead.
The audience last night was largely made up of women, and this was a prime example why. In a world of social media, free porn tubes, and Grand Theft Auto 5, what young women tend to crave most from men these days is actual, real attention in an engulfing sea of instant gratification.
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To many, the way Drake writes about women can seem condescending and disingenuous, but he embodies two extremes of what women ultimately want in a man. He's the guy who wants show you a good time and be the life of the party, but then take you home and stay up all night talking and connecting deeply on an emotional level before he bangs your brains out in the morning. That's a hell of a lot less psychosexual terror than the weird bird sex that Miguel is trying to sell to your spank bank, ladies.
Drake wants to get to know you as a person so badly, in fact, that he's had a floating circular terrace built into his tour so that he can spend about 15 minutes of his set walking over different sections of the arena pointing you out. It started off endearing and probably thrilling for "you in the glasses and the pink looking all fine", or "you in the OVO shirt looking out", or "Miley Cyrus over there twerking on a handstand, I swear to god I can't take you nowhere Miley Cyrus!" But grew pretty annoying after about five minutes.
To close out the night, Drake performed "Started From the Bottom" to a video package montaging various moments leading up to this ostentatious stage show. Everything from clips of him getting brought out on stage by Lil Wayne to Degrassi footage of Jimmy (pre-wheelchair) getting all palsy-walsy with child star castmates. Even the viral .gif of young Aubrey doing the catdaddy as a toddler made the cut. It was a nice ending note, and a nice "fuck you" to anyone who doesn't think this guy knows exactly what he's doing up there.