The Weeknd Proves His Live Chops At Lincoln Hall
By Jake Guidry in Arts & Entertainment on May 4, 2012 8:20PM
It's yet another exceedingly trendy buzzword being uttered by today's adventurous youth, and it's splayed across the snapback of Abel Tesfaye, known primarily as indie R&B phenom The Weeknd. The meme-ish word seems to parallel The Weeknd's sudden prominence in the overall indie consciousness. Surely, though, "Treated" will dissipate and lose relevance, and the question becomes, will this happen to The Weeknd? Less than one song into his set at Lincoln Hall last night, Tesfaye proceeded to answer that question with ferocity.
Leading up to The Weeknd's first tour, there were questions about translating his drippy, codeine-tripped-out sound to the live setting. Tesfaye could have just as well brought a DJ on tour to cue up tracks, and it probably would have been quite fine. He opted, however, for a full band, and while there are hi-fi elements lost in acoustic recreation of primarily-electronic music, the transition was impressive and, at times, great. Tesfaye's voice crooned powerfully over destroyed guitars and deep drums, accomplishing supreme intimacy with the sellout crowd (was that ever a concern?). The band gracefully shifted between the aesthetic differences of The Weeknd's two mixtapes, at times creating sensual, hazy vibes, and quickly switching gears into overdriven guitar solos. In this respect, the live band is utterly crucial to The Weeknd's live modus operandi: make you weep for your girl (or boy), say fuck it, and pump your fist in the air.
Highlights of the show paralleled the highlights of The Weeknd's limited discography. "High For This", "Wicked Games" and "Loft Music" were particular highlights, as was Drake's "Crew Love" (which, by the way, ain't a fuckin' singalong, even though everyone thought it was), but the absence of "What You Need" was odd and left us a little disappointed. Overall, though, it's clear The Weeknd has the live thing down, so as long as the production is there, Tesfaye should be treated to a long career.