Vancouver gets a little Weeknd before the weekend

The Weeknd with NAV & French Montana at Rogers Arena, 10/5/17

Photo by TImothy Nguyen

Toronto’s Abel Tesefaye—aka The Weeknd—brought his Starboy: Legend of the Fall tour to Vancouver’s Rogers Arena pre-Thanksgiving weekend (Oct. 5), and yes, he sounded good. The crowd was extremely enthusiastic, after getting plenty amped up by openers NAV and French Montana. A packed stadium filled with adoring, liquored-up fans meant more than a little applause throughout the span of the evening. But from an ultimate entertainment stand-point, The Weeknd wasn’t so ultimate.  

The show—stage setup-wise—was big stuff. Big lights, big stage, big effects. A neon triangular apparatus that descended from the ceiling can definitely be described as Star Trek-y. But sometimes having that much going on can make an artist underperform. The Weeknd sounded great, but there was barely any back-and-forth with concertgoers, and he didn’t do much besides walk back and forth across that epic stage while smoke blasted excitedly behind him. When he did speak to the crowd, it was mostly to exclaim “Vancoouuuuver!” Given his intense fame right now, the performer does not need to do much in his shows but sing those hits that made him such a beloved Top 40 superstar.  

The Weeknd @ Rogers
Photo by Timothy Nguyen

Donning white leather high-tops and an over-sized jean jacket, the hit maker opened up with “Starboy” after rising from a trapdoor in the middle of the runway, bathed in an electric blue spotlight. Very alien-chic. Very Starboy. As The Weeknd blasted through “Party Monster”, “Sidewalks”, “Often”, Ty Dolla $ign cover “Or Nah”, “Wicked Games” and the like, buzzed concertgoers ate it up and danced tirelessly. The Weeknd’s performance of “Earned It” could have been sexier, but he approached it like he did with all the other songs that night, with tight vocals but little soul.

The backup trio was great, giving The Weeknd’s songs that disco funk edge we love about his work. NAV returned to the stage for a “Some Way” duet with The Weeknd, and French Montana took that long runway for a duet of “Unforgettable”. Rogers Arena reacted just like the tour planners no doubt hoped they would—at one point an enraptured fan even threw a pink bra at The Weeknd.

There wasn’t really an encore, but rather four of the artist’s most famous and beloved tracks one after another: “Secret”, “Can’t Fell My Face”, “I Feel It Coming (sans Daft Punk) and “The Hills”. Every time he yelled out “Vancouver!!!” the crowd screamed back with glee. And if the Starboy keeps these great albums and collaborations coming, he might be able to keep delivering these kinds of shows to easily-entertained crowds. Building fan-rapport, however, is always a smart idea, no matter how high you’re riding.

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