Drake at Wells Fargo Theatre, 11/02/10
11.02.10 | Wells Fargo Theatre
It seems Tyga -- last night's opener -- got the memo that donning a puffy vest in Colorado makes you automatically likable. We have braved decades of trends in those things, and nothing makes you look native quite like sleeveless body armor made out of sleeping-bag material. Unfortunately, the familiar apparel choice was the only comforting thing about Tyga's performance. Clocking in at just under thirty minutes, the resident Young Money skinny man's set was dry, abrasive and boring.
Dropping his verses from "Loyalty" and playing a portion of "Steady Mobbin'," Tyga offered a set that sputtered with an unfinished showmanship, his tiny figure hunching across the stage in that overwhelming jacket. His backing tracks suffered from leveling issues -- no conceivable balance between the high and low end was ever achieved, leading to blown-out bass and soggy samples -- leaving even the classic, fail-safe "It Takes Two," by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock, sounding like it was coming out of a gurgling telephone receiver.
New track "Really Raw" had some lyrically humorous appeal, but even it was quickly sideswiped by Tyga's offensive use of twenty seconds of R. Kelly's "Bump and Grind" and Usher's "Nice & Slow" -- off-putting mostly because the rapper did nothing to the songs, appeasing fans in some capacity just by letting the tracks play. Tyga's performance wasn't horrible as much as it was blasé and patronizing, particularly when he decided to make an exit to Dr. Dre's "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang," without so much as a pretend sing-along.
Drake appeared around 9:10 p.m., hidden behind sunglasses, his ego jumping out from a cool stance and filling the dark amphitheatre as it warmed with a purplish glow. He set off the show with "9AM in Dallas" as tufts of fruit-infused weed smoke mixed with maddening screams bubbling up from women at every angle of the stage. "Forever" moved the handsome gentleman to remove his eyewear and jean jacket as "Up All Night" rolled right into "Show Me a Good Time."
With little time left before Young Money Records' head honcho Lil Wayne is released from prison, the "Free Weezy" theme was on the tips of both performers' tongues during the show. Drake took several opportunities to share phone conversations and personal stories with his attentive audience, getting humble (if only for a few moments) about Lil Wayne's impact on his career.
Drizzy's flow was flawless, with songs like "The Resistance," "Karaoke" and "Successful" showing a maturity since his last time around -- not rushed or pushed out, but instead timely and cadenced. The only looming annoyance, exemplified in "Fireworks," was the ratio of rapping to crooning: There wasn't nearly enough of Drake's smoldering vocals shared throughout the show. But his verses on the Young Jeezy track "Lose My Mind" made this fact forgettable, followed succinctly by Birdman's "Money to Blow" and a snippet of Weezy's growl from "I'm Goin' In."