The allure of The Weeknd has nothing to do with any one hit song (nor does the weirdly misspelled name of his act). The Canadian performer Abel Tesfaye is a trendsetter in a style nicknamed PBR&B — quasi-indie soul and hip-hop distinguished by experimental song structures, smooth vocals and atmospheric effects.
It’s a formula that was in full effect last Thursday night at the Straz. The young Canadian mood-master won over a mostly 18-25-ish crowd, which we don’t see often at the room headlined by the Florida Orchestra and Broadway touring productions. Trip-hop-pop songstress Banks opened the show and did the whole shebang justice with her violet-drenched set. [Words by Julie, Photos by Daniel.]
The show’s sexy nocturnal theatrics made for a full-bodied entertainment experience. The room reverberated with lush synths, loops, samples and industrial effects that enhanced Tesfaye’s Prince/Michael Jackson-esque vocal stylings. Like Prince, he even launched into raunchy ad-libbing, claiming he was going to “get Tampa off three times … four times” at one point.
Tesfaye, who gained a following as a mystery artist on Facebook, infused his tour setup with more of his expert self-promotion. The motif for his new "Trilogy Kiss Land Tour" highlighted a things-that-go-hump-in-the-night presentation — neon-green anime creatures and video game-style graphics among them. Silhouettes of Tokyo prostitutes in rows of Red Light District windows and videos of Asian girl-on-girl action added to the mix. The darkly enchanting showcase was seedy and sometimes humorous, providing eye candy that appealed to the 2,000-plus young, hormonal adults and some over-the-hill fans, too. The free condoms with The Weeknd’s trademark XO logo likely came in handy after the show.
An over-30 minority didn’t completely feel left out. Throwbacks to bygone pop eras popped up throughout the evening. The 23-year-old Canadian performer conjured the ‘80s with samples of The Police’s “Bring on the Night” and Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Happy House.” Beach House and other indie bands were also sampled — and all part of an early fall performance that showcased why The Weeknd and other pop stars like Miguel and Drake (a frequent collaborator) have become mainstream successes.
Love in the Sky
Belong To the World
The Town What You Need/Professional
House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls
The Party & The After Party
Pretty High For This
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