So when Drake says that Phoenix might be one of the most energetic crowds of his career you just might have to take his word for it. It was clear that Drake was aiming to please the restless phoenix congregation, as he refused to pull any punches. Pyrotechnics, dancing balloons that dropped from the sky and an airlift all accompanied the Canadian emcee as he ran through his numerous hits. Drake also used a mega-sized visual screen and ascending and descending platforms as he hypnotized the audience with cryptic flashing visuals. With people young and old singing some of Drake’s biggest hits at the top of their lungs, Drake showcased his ability to control a crowd and have them eating out of the palm of his hand.
One thing is clear: Drake knows how to put together a stage show. Accompanied by a live drummer and keyboardist, as well as the occasional backup dancer, Drake hit the ground running as he started his set with the popular track "Summer Sixteen." Drake’s voice boomed loud over the instrumental as the giant visuals in the background flashed various images and shapes in a rapid fashion. The images on the screen felt almost cult-like as spirals and various other odd shapes and images flew across the stage. Illuminati hypnotism be damned, the entire experience was impressive as the combination of pyrotechnics, lights and smoke induced a mesmerizing state on the youthful crowd.
Drake has seen a total of 75 songs to grace the Billboard charts since the start of career. It almost seems as if he challenged himself to fit as many into his set as possible. Two separate times throughout his set, Drake fired off the chorus to some of the numerous hits in his catalog. During one of the runs, Drake managed to squeeze about 14 of some his biggest hits into a four-minute span. Much to the crowd's delight, Drake was probably able to squeeze in a piece of everyone’s favorite song at some point, even if it was just a 10-second snippet. After the first run of songs, Drake slowed the pace down and hit the crowd with his somber new strip club-inspired song, “Child’s Play,” from his album Views From The Six, praising the attractiveness of the Phoenix women in the audience in the process.
Acting as an intermission to his set, Drake brought out Future, who ran through the majority of his hits in rapid succession. Future went through the motions, and he and DJ Esco did their best to maintain the crowd’s energy. Future’s use of the giant visual screen was much more “conventional” as his music videos played in the background interspersed with random images like slow-motion flying open boxes of baking soda and vast blue oceans.
After running through a couple of songs from What a Time to Be Alive, the mixtape the two rappers released, Drake retook command of the stage and ran through more of his many hit singles. The crowd was waiting to hear one song in particular, Drake’s only number one single, “One Dance.” Once the song hit the speakers, Drake let the crowd do a lot of the heavy work as he belted out the words to the dancehall-inspired tune. After that, Drake finished the night with “Back to Back” and “Know Yourself,” the latter was accompanied with a ridiculous amount of smoke and explosions.
At the end of the night, Drake’s use of special effects, excellent crowd control, and brainwashing visuals made this show hard not to enjoy. Drake seemed to have a good time himself as he describes the lively Phoenix crowd as one of the best he'd ever seen. Whether that is true or not, it is clear that Drake has the hits, the budget, and the passion to continue to put on some of the best shows that hip-hop has to offer right now.
Last night: Drake at Talking Stick Arena in Phoenix
Overheard: “He looks so happy!”
Random Notebook Dump: "Explosions and fire will improve any live concert."
Crowd Control: The audience was in such a trance like state that Drake could have told them to jump and they would have yelled “How high?”