In 2016, one of the best hip-hop concerts that I have ever attended was Drake and Future’s summer sixteen concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City. About four shows were scheduled to be held at the larger Manhattan area in New York and this concert was the first of these shows. Many hip-hop lovers filled the garden with their customized ‘OVO’ branded clothing. A long hip hop DJ set that lasted for about two hours started this concert. The DJ played many hip songs including Changes by Tupac Shakur, a song from the 90s and modern songs from young artists like ‘best friend’ by young thug. At first, the crowd was excited and people sang along to most of the songs but after some time, they grew impatient clearly yearning for the live performances to start.
The first artist hit the stage at around 9 p.m. New York time. His name is Roywood, an upcoming artist signed under Drakes ‘OVO’ music label. He performed a new song from his upcoming mix tape. The crowd was mostly quiet during this and the next three performances, also by new artist signed under the label’ mostly because both the artists and the songs they performed were new to them. At around 10p.m. the long wait was over. Drake stormed the stage to the amusement of the crowd. His entrance song was ‘coming home’, the second single from his third studio album ‘Nothing was the same’.
After the performance, Drake paused for a moment to address the crowd. He started by talking ill about Hot 97, one of the biggest hip hop radio stations in New York city. He also emphasized that he would only go for an interview if the station fired Funk master Flex, a producer with the station. To calm the temperatures down, he concluded the by praising New York as the best city in the whole world.
Drake then performed ‘Controlla’ and later on wowed the fans with one of his biggest afro fusion songs ‘One dance’ featuring Africa’s mega star Wizkid. The crowd was ecstatic and hyped. He then performed ‘Still here’ followed by ‘Child’s play’ which are all singles from his hit album ‘Views’. The most memorable moment throughout the show was when he performed the acapella version of ‘hotline bling’ pausing strategically as the crowd sang along. It marked the end of the first part of Drake’s performance.
Future, also one of the most celebrated hip hop artist in the United States, took to the stage immediately Drake left. He opened his performance by performing ‘New Level’ featuring Asap Ferg, a rapper from Harlem. True to the lyrics of the song, this performance was on a new level. At the end of the performance, Future threw his baseball cap to the crowd and Asap Ferge silently walked out of the stage.
It was possible to see the drops of sweat on Future’s face on the screens from across the garden. Before everyone could get a chance to cool down, the beats to one of his greatest hits ‘March Madness’ started playing. What followed was yet another memorable performance which made the crowd jump up and down although in sync with the rhythm. Those who couldn’t jump fist thumped in the air in perfect harmony. With that performance, Future walked off stage and before long, Drake was back.
Drake concluded the night with performances of some of the biggest songs from his hit album ‘If you are reading this, it’s too late’. ‘Legend’ was the last song he performed and in typical rap fashion he ended the show by stating that if he was to die on that day, he would die a legend.
As a diehard hip hop fan, I enjoyed the show. The sound was clear, the performers hit the stage on time, and last and but not least, the fans were amazing. Drake’s performance of ‘hotline bling’, the acapella version, was however the most memorable performance of the night.
Sia’s ‘Nostalgic for the Future’ Concert at the Barclays Center in 2016
Sia’s performance at the Barclays Center in Brookline was different from all the other shows that I have ever been to. Unlike in other music concerts where musicians sing and dance throughout the night, Sia decided to put up more of a theatrical performance for her fans.
The concert began with Aluna George’s electro jams. The first song of the night was ‘Kaleido scope love’, a single from her 2013 album ‘Body Music’. It was followed by ‘my blood’ and ‘heartbreak Horizon’, tracks from her other album ‘I remember’ which was released in 2016. As the songs played, fans trickled into the arena and before long, it was fully packed.
There was nothing unusual about the stage setting, apart from the two high definition mega screens on both sides of the stage. The lighting was perfect. There were no props except large speakers a microphone located at the far left end of the stage. The DJ perfectly blended Aluna’s songs for the next one hour or so to the amusement of the crowd. However, at some point, the crowd got anxious and remained sitted.
RnB singer Miguel was the first artist on stage. He was dressed in all white from head to toe including a white t-shirt, white pair of trousers and white sneakers. Even the feathers on either side of his leather jacket were white. He was greeted by screams and cheers from the ladies in the crowd who form a major part of his fan base. The first song he performed was ‘sure thing’ as he danced along seductively. The fans were delighted.
Miguel’s performance took an interesting turn when he paused the music and started weighing in on the current political environment. He narrated how tough growing up as a half Latino half black kid was in Las Vegas. He then led the crowd in cursing Donald Trump his divisive policies. The chants came to an end when the beats of the song ‘Leaves” started playing. He immediately went back to singing and the crowd back to screaming and singing along.
Throughout his performances, Miguel remained stationed behind his mic until his single ‘waves’ came on. He left his station and performed the rest of the song moving from one end of the stage to the other. At one point, he did some acrobatic moves to the delight of the crowd. Miguel then ended his performance by performing his smash hit ‘Adorn’, a single from his ‘Kaleidoscope Dream’ album. The lights then went dim and he walked off the stage.
When the lights came back on, the fans cheered and roared with excitement. Finally the person they had come to see was on stage. Sia was standing behind her mic at the far left part of the stage. She was dressed in a grey long dress and her signature black and blond wig which covered her face. The only thing the wig revealed was the red lipstick on her lips. She remained silent for about a minute as the crowd screamed and whistled round the arena. Finally she greeted the crowd and went on to perform ‘Titanium’ which she wrote but was sung by Rihanna.
Throughout the night, Sia remained stationery. The only people moving on stage were actors acting out her songs on stage. Her singing was more like background music in a movie. As the actors acted, there were videos playing on the two huge screens and the amazing thing was how in sync the actors, the videos and Sia were. It was more of a theatrical performance than an artist singing in a concert.
The highlight of the night was when Sia’s now famous fourteen year old dancer, Maddie Ziegler hit the stage. Ziegler became famous after appearing in ‘Chandelier’ and ‘Elastic heart’ music videos performed by Sia. Sia performed all her greatest hits including ‘chandelier’, ‘elastic heart’, ‘she wolf’ and ‘Big girls cry’.
I generally enjoyed the show even though it was rather short lasting only one hour and thirty minutes. The sound was very clear and the theatrical performances were well choreographed. Although Sia remained stationery hidden behind her wig, the crowd got value for their money.
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