AU ABROAD

Live Review: Drake + 2 Chainz + P Reign + One Day DJs - Allphones Arena, Sydney (25.02.15)


Photo Credit: Nathan Atkins for the AU review

When Drake was announced as the headliner for this year's Future Music Festival we all knew that there just had to be some sideshows. It's his first time down in Australia, and demand for Drake is only getting higher. The length we waited for him to perform in Australia was rewarded with extra effort on everyone's behalf, and a set list that is far better (and longer) than the recent ones he has been performing. But first, let's start at the beginning.

One Day DJs - Raph Dixon (Jackie Onassis), Adit (Horrorshow), and Joyride - scored a big one as the only Aussies to share the stage with Drake, 2 Chainz, and Canadian up-and-comer P Reign, and they weren't about to waste it by sticking to the standards. The setting made it such that trendy turn ups had to take up most of the set, but the trio pulled out some good old surprises like Aaliyah's "Rock The Boat" and fellow inner-west champs Sticky Fingers, the latter augmented with Raph's bass-heavy tweaks and turns to fit it into the set. With Joyride playing hypeman, Adit and Raph pumped out party tracks by the likes of Meek Mill, O.T Genesis, and T.I before making their exit. A job well done if all those hands in the air and loud sing-a-longs are anything to go by.

Canadian rapper P Reign doesn't even have a debut album out, and yet there he was on the stage in one of Australia's biggest arenas, courting screams and applause from an all-ages Drake crowd. The up and coming emcee smartly broke his own material up with a party-minded DJ set, hyping the crowd to tracks like "I Don't Fuck With You", "Recognize", and "No Type" in between showcasing his own strong material. The beats sometimes get the best of him (or his mic wasn't loud enough), but his confidence and stage presence save Reign when times get tough. He knows how to work a crowd, and while he takes you through tracks like "We Them Ni**as", "Realest in the City", and fan favourite "DnF" there's that prophetic sense that we are witnessing a young rapper who has a very bright path ahead of him; someone who will be headlining his own shows across the globe soon enough.

If you told Tauheed "2 Chainz" Epps 10 years ago that there would be a point in time where he would be more in-demand than his former boss Ludacris I think even he would laugh. Fast forward to now and the dominant, highly animated rapper has carved out a lane that is uniquely his, perfecting a style that has caught on so well that he has become as ubiquitous as more conventional talents like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and J Cole. The artist formerly known as Tity Boi has guested on various tracks because everyone knows that he can lively up even the dullest atmosphere (example, the otherwise terrible "Beez in the Trap"); as such, there's plenty of guest verses he can pull out for his set, and he did exactly that. Starting with a slightly tweaked "Mercy" and cruising through "Cut Her Off", and the aforementioned "Beez in the Trap", the Atlanta emcee began his explosive set in a big way; turning the energy up to a level he seemed satisfied with before getting into his own "I Luv Dem Strippers" (which he dedicated to Atlanta's famous Magic City) and continuing into the hype "Bandz a Make Her Dance"

Obviously still fond of his days as a relatively unknown (outside of the U.S) part of Playaz Circle, he dug up an excerpt from the group's only hit "Duffle Bag Boys" and made it fit well the set. His best song, "Spend It", seemed to fall on deaf ears, but "Riot" and it's electro-dubstep remix picked fans back up and had the entire arena jumping. Closing with hits "I'm Different" and "No Lie", 2 Chainz stood basking in the bright spotlight and soaking up the huge ovation. He may not be the most lyrically impressive emcee, and he may often sound like he's reading from an R-Rated nursery rhyme book, but his sharp bars and catchy refrains, mixed with lively beats, make for one hell of a party live.

2 Chainz Set List

Mercy
Cut Her Off
Beez in the Trap
I Luv Dem Strippers
Bandz A Make Her Dance
Crack
Duffle Bag Boy
Spent It
Riot/Remix
Turn Down For What
Talk Dirty
Birthday Song
I'm Different
No Lie

I often wonder if Drake's profile could get any bigger than it already is. He is undoubtedly the most bankable artist in hip hop right now, and has been for a few years. From the incredible melodies he works into his songs to his talent for emotionally-charged emceeing, the Canadian wonder is all but crowned the king of contemporary music. So it makes sense to celebrate along with him when you hear the loud horns of "Trophies" echoing throughout the arena, signalling an explosion of light as Drake rushes out and runs around stage rapping the stadium-minded rap anthem before his DJ - Future the Prince - shortens it so they can fit in the faux machine-gun breakdown, and so the production team can make full use of those deep blue strobes. It's an epic entrance that leads well into another horn-drive track, Drake's version of the jumpy "We Made It".

"I'm not asking to change your life, I'm just trying to be a part of it", Drake tells the crowd in his gravely voice before the unmistakable beat for "Headlines" kicks in and the track is given a half-full performance, the fans staying bar-for-bar with Drake. He can't help but look overwhelmed, even if he is used to the attention. It's about this time that the first of many bras is thrown at him.

Drake's debut LP, Thank Me Later, gets some love with a quick medley blending the hooks of "Over" and "Show Me a Good Time" before his first real big hit "Best I Ever Had" is delivered to a ravenous crowd eager to eat up anything Drake has in store.

The hook for "Successful" was mixed in with one of the verses from If You're Reading This It's Too Late stand-out "Star 67". It seemed a full, precise performance of Drake's most popular tracks wasn't in the cards for this tour, but Drake certainly made up for it with his entertaining banter between songs, and a promise to give the crowd all the energy he can possibly give while his small band, a keyboardist, a drummer and a DJ, help translate these hits.

The Weeknd's voice rang out for "Crew Love" before the crowd exploded to "Fuckin Problems", turning things up even more and turning Allphones Arena into a stadium for the night.

Drake's childhood friend OB Brien was given some shine with his version of Tinashe's "2 On". Though Brien didn't quite have the breath control needed to spit continuously over the fast-paced DJ Mustard beat, he was entertaining on stage and it was nice to see Drake and one of his closest friends celebrate success in front of us.

Things were only picking up as the set got more ferocious, Drake rapping with purpose through the hypnotic bounce of "Motto" and then his verse from Nicki Minaj's "Truffle Butter". ILoveMakonnen's divisive hit "Tuesday" was up next, with the swirling effects and low key basslines helping the sing-song track fill out the arena.

A fired up "6 God" dropped out of nowhere, the frantic Donkey Kong sample as intense live as it is on record. This was followed by the very loud club hit "Pop That" and then toned back down for the artful "Blessed" by Big Sean.

Drake dropped the mic and just stared at it, looking up and giving us a wide grin before picking it back up and launching into the anthemic anti-social ode "Worst Behaviour".

It was at this point Drake, who was on stage in a purple sports jacket, left to take a quick breather while Future The Prince continued testing the crowd by delving further and further back into Drake's early days. A medley of almost all Thank Me Later tracks brought Drizzy back for a quick burst of "I'm on One" before the mood changed to something a little bit less party-focused and the rapper-singer focused on his singing chops. "Karaoke" was up first, and then "Come Thru", both picked up and dropped off at halfway points before Drake's big hit, "Find Your Love", came out.

"Find Your Love" was interesting, as the live version is much more minimal than on record, giving the show over to his keyboardist and drummer who both worked together to bring a new dimension to the classic song. Sadly, much of this didn't work until the instrumental surprisingly turned into a contemporary reggae beat and Drake delivered a cover of the little known "Serious Times" by reggae artist Gyptian.

Cue in a strange segment where Drake steps onto to a trapeze and then is lifted up over fans' heads, landing safely on a smaller stage set up about halfway across the floor so everyone up the back got a fair view of Drake. The smaller stage, lit up in a green smoke, saw Drake perform two of his biggest hits. First was the sweet, poignant "Marvin's Room" - a hook that feels awkward sung by thousands of fans - followed by "Hold On, We're Going Home" obviously fan favourites judging from the amount of noise made, cheering as he sang throug the hits. The latter was drowned out and drawn out by an overly exciting crowd who rushed to get as close to possible to Drake.

Just when we were getting too comfortable with rap love songs, Drake switched things back into party mode, albeit a bit more aggressive and braggadocios with tracks like set highlight "0 to 100", "HYFR", and 2 Chainz-collaboration "All Me" - which featured the man himself running out onto the stage with Drake.

Sydney was treated to something special towards the end, as Drake went into both of his most recent album's best tracks "Energy" and "Know Yourself", mixing the two to show off the new, darker sound of the stealth release.

Closing with the insanely fun "Started from the Bottom", Drake decided to get a bit emotional on stage, reminiscing on his career to date and letting us know how truly grateful he was. Judging by the ovation, the crowd was just as grateful (and emotional - I saw some tears when the camera panned the front row) for having Drake perform for almost two hours. While the majority of the set was done in the dreaded medley style, Drake's performance was tight and well rehearsed, with his small band - a keyboardist, a drummer, and a DJ - serving him well as he strut around stage with the same equal measure of bravado and modesty that he portrays on record, while pyro, fire, and mood lighting helped him bring his work to life.

Drake Set List

Trophies
We Made It
Headlines
Over/Show Me a Good Time
Best I Ever Had
Successful (Hook)/Star 67 (Verse)
Crew Love
Fucking Problems
2 On (Featuring OB O'Brien)
Motto
Truffle Butter
Tuesday
6 God
Pop That
Blessed
Worst Behaviour
--
Future The Prince's Drake Medley:
Forever
The Language
Uptown
Up All Night
Miss Me
Fancy
Believe Me
No New Friends
--
I'm On One
Karaoke
Come Thru
Find Your Love/Serious Times (Gyptian Cover)
Take Care
--
Marvin's Room
Hold On We're Going Home
--

0 to 100
All Me
HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)
Energy/Know Yourself
Started From the Bottom

--

Drake Australian Tour 2015

MELBOURNE | ROD LAVER ARENA | FRI 27 FEB | SOLD OUT
SYDNEY | FUTURE MUSIC FEST | SAT 28 FEB | TIX AVAILABLE FROM http://www.futuremusicfestival.com.au /
PERTH | FUTURE MUSIC FEST | SUN 1 MAR | TIX AVAILABLE FROM http://www.futuremusicfestival.com.au/
PERTH | PERTH ARENA | TUE 3 MAR | TIX AVAILABLE FROM ticketek.com.au
BRISBANE | ENT CENTRE | THU 5 MAR | TIX AVAILABLE FROM ticketek.com.au
BRISBANE|FUTURE MUSIC FEST | SAT 7 MAR | TIX AVAILABLE FROM http://www.futuremusicfestival.com.au/

Drake will also be hosting a special Future Music Festival afterparty for Sydney at Marquee Sydney (at The Star) on Saturday 28th February. Visit www.marqueesydney.com for details