Drake At The Landmark Music Festival. Image Courtesy of Fuse
Despite the medley of differing views the following four of us share about Drake, we could all agree that blowing off the pop star’s Landmark performance seemed like a foolish thing to do. Therefore- to best process our post-drizzy feelings- we’ve outlined our opinions below, hoping to get as close as possible to the bedazzled truth about our 2nd favorite Degrassi Star (J.T remains the greatest, RIP).
Anyone who knows me well enough is quite aware of my feelings towards the 6ix God. I, like many others out there, am a huge Drake fan and treat each new release of his as cause for celebration. (I may or may not have been at a show when IYRTITL dropped, and promptly left the show to go listen to it. It’s that bad.) His music has spoken to me on so many levels, so it’s only natural that I would want to seem him perform live and in the flesh. Luckily, that day came, and I was able to see him in all his glory, only a few short days before my birthday. To say that his performance was life-changing might be a bit of a stretch, but it was honestly one of the best performances I had seen in a long while. Objectively speaking, Drake is a damn good, even great, performer. His set was the perfect mix of hype, drama, and even ended with a rad fireworks display. He managed to play most of the songs I would want to hear, and it was a good mix of older and newer songs from his discography. He seemed genuinely excited to be playing for us in DC, and the crowd seemed equally excited that he was there.
I recognized two of the songs Drake played, and only one by name (“Started From The Bottom”). The other- which was the tune about holding on and going home- came on during the middle of his set, and woke me up to the fact that I was seeing Drake and not some bulked-up dreidel primed to spin around the stage anytime the audience got restless and acknowledged the six god’s celebrity. In fact Drake spent such a large portion of the show bouncing around to mentions of his professional triumph, the six, and Meek Mill’s failures that I generally felt I was somewhere between the physical incarnation of Black People Twitter and Drake’s own attempt at having the crowd bring him to orgasm (he changed clothes so much that maybe we did). Needless to say I wasn’t surprised when I caught him checking out his own telepromptered imaged during a break in the music, as he fingered that weird little side shave he has going on with his haircut; I think it might have been his most genuine moment of the night.
However even more annoying than Drake’s newfound ego was his ‘playful’, in-between song banter, which I found to truly corrupt the performance’s integrity. It’s well known that his crowd comments are scripted and without any sort of contextual merit, but hearing them in person invokes an entirely new meaning of self-aggrandizement. Listen Drake, I know that this D.C. crowd is not the best you’ve seen all 2015, and I know that you’d never pick D.C. as your home over Toronto; you really need to figure out the difference between flattering the locals and shamelessly cooing at them through some shit eating grin. I mean, jesus, I would’ve appreciated one of those overwrought Washington Monument- Penis comparisons to any of your holier-than-though love declarations to D.C. I’m not some lonely soul asking to get picked up at a bar Drake, don’t make me feel cheap.
How does it feel to witness a public spectacle that, for so long, you fought tooth and nail to avoid, ignore, hide from? On Saturday night I attended Landmark Festival on the National Mall and, with 20k other college students, converged on the Jefferson Stage at 8:30 to see the venerable demigod himself: Drake.
I’ve never actively listened to the artist that many are calling the most famous man in hip-hop right now – but his music, especially in a collegiate setting, is impossible to avoid. From dorm parties to sports games to late night pizza counters, Drizzy’s beats and his sad, soulful voice echo constantly in a vacuum, never farther away then the nearest fraternity or sad boy drinking alone.
Still, I was excited to see the man in the flesh – if for no other reason than to watch my fellow concertgoers stick their hands in the air, rap every word, grind up against the person in front of them, and Instagram it for everyone else at home.
The energy when Drake came on stage, of course, was ecstatic, exciting, and he kept it that way for most of his set. What amazed me most, besides Drizzy’s ability to get people to slobber all over each other, was how many songs I recognized that I had just never known were his. Crowd pleaser after crowd pleaser, he peaked at his biggest hit, Started From The Bottom, and began his lengthy denouement with Know Yourself, waving goodbye to all his new DC woes that he kept claiming were his best crowd of 2015. A spectacle to be sure – but that’s kind of the point right? To see the one of the biggest pop stars of the year in their prime, on a mild night in September, as the drugs wear off.
DRAKE. DRAKE DRAKE DRAKE.
Ok, so I’ve made no effort to conceal how excited I have been for this performance. I had to change the settings on my Spotify account because one of my friends from back home started shit-talking how much I listen to “Headlines,” I guess everyone misses the old Connor (girl, don’t tempt me). I travelled two hundred miles in one day so that I could witness this performance, and as a consequence I really only got to see Band of Horses and Drizzy on the first day. I cursed the Pope for backing up traffic in Philadelphia for Christ’s sake, I am not messing around here.
Visually, you really can’t deny that this was a very tight show (at first). Drake’s image is very cultivated and represents the weird, semi-bougey aesthetic that he and the rest of YMCMB have sought over the years. Plus the way Mr. Graham utilizes the “If You’re Reading This” font is even somewhat tongue in cheek, like why else would he repurpose it in a live setting to say “If You’re Reading This We Made It” if Drake himself wasn’t somewhat in on the joke?
Drake’s energy is all kinetic, stemming just as a much from onstage pyrotechnics as it does from him doing a lap previous to grabbing the microphone and belting out the lyrics of “Know Yourself,” a performance for which words fail me (but the fire emoji does not). As his set waned and he began to rely on deeper cuts and older tracks though, his onstage aesthetic morphed into this weird retrofuture 80s vibe that seemed kind of phoned in, but Drizzy kept his energy 100 (emoji).
Besides showmanship and production value (which was lacking in no aspect), I would you like to suggest Drake’s stage banter be reincorporated into an inspirational spoken word album. Despite a lot of erstwhile melancholia (especially for someone who someone who was ‘25 sitting on 25 mil’ three years ago), Drake definitely loves himself in a way that inspires me to not hate myself, and he tries to imbue this sentiment at his performances. His whole set was lit AF, anyone who says otherwise is a blasphemer. I’m glad that he got another chance to headline in the city where he threw down a couple stacks after leaving a Northeast strip club.
Man, what a time to be alive.