March 6th, 2012, 6:56 pm · · posted by KELLI SKYE FADROSKI, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
It would have been wrong to have gone into Drake’s near-knockout performance Monday night in Los Angeles anticipating visionary spectacle on the scale of Kanye West’s recent powerhouse productions. Not only is the rapidly advancing Canadian sensation still a few steps behind West in terms of output and variety, but his Club Paradise Tour, by its very name and nature, suggests he isn’t aiming for anything too grand just yet.
“I fought for this tour,” he told MTV recently. “I fought really hard for this tour because, of course, they want me to go get the big bucks, go into the stadiums and cash out.” He’s right, of course. Had Monday’s gig at USC’s dwarf arena the Galen Center been shifted instead to Staples Center, it would have sold out just as fast and probably led to multiple nights.
Drake will get to that point soon enough – probably by fall, I’d guess, once his pretty staggering second album, October’s Take Care, spins off a few more smash singles. For now, he’s keeping bonds tight with his core demographic by playing smaller (but not too small) venues at colleges and universities coast to coast, including another sold-out show March 11 at San Diego State’s Viejas Arena.
By its very name and nature, the Club Paradise outing tips Drake’s hand that he isn’t aiming for anything grander than a bare-bones experience, maybe with just a hint of gloss: slo-mo images of women knocking ’em back during “Shot for Me,” say, or a parade of honeys wiggling their behinds for “Practice.” And definitely save the special guests for L.A.: Meek Mill turned up for the aggressively horny “I’ma Boss” halfway in, just after Drake bust it bust it bust it on the Waka Flocka Flame track “Round of Applause” – but J. Cole easily bested that by barking through “Can’t Get Enough,” stunning the crowd.
Not that sharing the spotlight took anything away from the smoldering headliner, whose relatively slow-rising career, like so many overnight sensations before him (Kanye especially), now seems positively meteoric. In a highly compelling performance principally focused on Take Care (15 of 18 tracks) and only touched thrice on his debut disc Thank Me Later, the 25-year-old was fully in command of both the room’s heaving energy and the pace of the six-man band egging him on. He gave all, leaping about the stage, painstakingly pointing out fans during an extended “Miss Me” (à la Jay-Z when he goes off on one of his “I see you, I appreciate you” jags) and proving beyond doubt that his verbal skills are as top-tier on the mic as they are in the studio.
Photos by Armando Brown, for the Orange County Register.
More O.C. Nightlife:
- Video: On the red carpet at the 2012 OC Music Awards
- Video: Behind-the-scenes at Musink
- Slideshow: 4th Annual Pechanga Wine Festival
- Micah Brown hosts March Monday residency at the Constellation Room
- Review: Alkaline Trio, Against Me! finish off Musink Festival with rousing sets
- Video: Drop the Lime at King’s Inn at Memphis Cafe in Costa Mesa
- AfterWork: Incahoots in Fullerton
- Review: Musink fans get crazy for Yellowcard, New Found Glory
- Review: Cypress Hill Smokeout in San Bernardino
- O.C.’s Aquabats go from stage to screen
- Music News: 2012 OC Music Awards winners