NEW Weeknd for the upcoming soundtrack to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. This one's an instantly engaging record that could have easily fit on Kiss Land. I can see myself putting this one in the late night rotation — another must-add from Weeknd.
Joke's on you — this looks like it's the first ever release from the unknown singer (it looks like his Twitter account was just created today) so no one yet knows about him. Just that this first release sounds great and it's bolstered by a feature from The Weeknd (no stranger to mystery). Naturally, this one's called "Secrets" and also features a killer production, with poignant strings dropping in nicely at the end.
One other clue: a tweet from Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, who worked on this song (but not revealed to what capacity)...
Nonetheless, we have an instant *Tibs Fav. above and a fun mystery to uncover with hopefully more new music releases (and you know, photos, birthplace, those sorts of things too.)
Any Weeknd fans on the East Coast? I think so. Soon after it was announced that an OVOXO Tour is happening with Drake, today it's revealed that The Weeknd will be opening up for Justin Timberlake's upcoming tour on six select dates. If you're a lucky concert-goer in these cities, be sure to get to the venue right on time.
The Weeknd, bloodied by the lights, at Chicago Theatre 10.14.13
Since his release of House of Balloons in 2011, The Weeknd has become one of my favorite R&B singers and most-played artists. His mix of piercing productions with a soft, high voice that can reach MJ pitches sets him apart from the game, and doubles as great working music for the late night grind.
Last night was night two of two in Weeknd's back-to-back run at the Chicago Theatre for the Kiss Land Tour — a testament to the growth the Toronto singer has seen in the past two and a half years. I was looking forward to checking out The Weeknd for the first time live, at one of my favorite venues nonetheless, to primarily hear how the monumental sound he, DannyBoyStyles, and Jason "DaHeala" Quenneville have developed would translate with their three-piece band. I had no doubt it would be a powerful experience — and indeed it was.
The Weeknd kicked off his set with "Adaptation", one of his most engaging lyrical records off Kiss Land, which was then a smooth blend into "Love In The Sky". Both were great appetizers to the first "wow" moment of the aforementioned monumental sound live: "Belong To The World". After the chilling thunderstorm intro, the Portishead-sampled drums pulsated at max. volume and combined with the reveal of The Weeknd's set — a series of over a handful of video screens that displayed neon signs in Japanese akin to the packaging of Kiss Land. I instantly felt the stage was now a city, especially as the signs popped up throughout the show and animated like video advertisements would in Tokyo (I'd imagine) or certainly Times Square.
My favorite part of the beat in "The Town" — just a sense of its big sound live.
After another "wow" moment of the breakdown in "The Town" (one of my favorite productions, in general, this year), The Weeknd kicked off the middle third of his set with classic cuts from House of Balloons. My favorite of those — the title track — featured its own twist on the transition to "Glass Table Girls" and had that same lively jump I was searching for in experiencing the music live. Shortly thereafter, however, is where I'd tab the one critique I had of the show. With the magnificent visuals from the video screens (and a curtain/silhouette draped over Weeknd for "Adaptation" that I failed to mention earlier) setting the tone, seeing The Weeknd perform these fan favorites lost a little luster with little to no visuals behind him and the band. Given the grainy, black and white theme of that project, some changes to the lights (all greyscale) and visuals similar to his music videos could have matched the monumental feel set prior.
Weeknd quickly quelled any disappointment I had in the visual presentation with a first: performing in front of a lesbian sex scene. As the "Kiss Land" title track progressed and kicked off the latter third of new hits, Weeknd simply sang at center stage as two asian girls made love to each other on the multiple video screens behind him. There was certainly an aura of shock and awe amongst the crowd mixed in with the continued vibe to the record. No doubt it was positively received and no doubt many of us were watching the video screens, rather than The Weeknd. Ha!
The set wound down on a high note, literally, as the crowd matched Weeknd's high notes on "Crew Love". No extra visuals needed for that one; there was just The Weeknd, the crowd, and the chills in the air. Next, Weeknd dedicated "Pretty" to Chicago (in the same talking voice as MJ, no less #Analysis) and drove that home by projecting himself singing it on the big screens behind him. After a fiery performance of "Wanderlust", Weeknd exited stage right, but no one in the crowd moved. In fact, the crowd started a college-style chant "We want more!" and The Weeknd and his band emerged from the darkness for an encore performance of "Wicked Games".
Things I've learned:
- The Weeknd's sound translates even more powerful than you'd expect live.
- His vocals too, he can hit the high notes like you hear on the tracks.
- The Weeknd is unabashedly pushing the envelope and his cutting-edge brand forward with a live presentation perfect for big venues. Up next: stadiums.
- In hindsight, especially knowing the artist and his attention to presentation in this case, I'm happy this was my first live experience of The Weeknd, in a venue as quality and large as the Chicago Theatre. His smaller show, without the visuals, at his previous stops in the Chi at Lincoln Hall and the LQ audio at the Congress Theater would not have done justice to the progressive sound The Weeknd continues to build on. I'll be riding out Kiss Land for some time as The Weeknd will undoubtedly build on the music and the tour. Given the detail and precise set last night, we'll definitely be in for something new next time.
The scene moments after The Weeknd outside the Chicago Theatre | Photos by: Sgt. Tibs
Here's a fresh collab off the upcoming soundtrack to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as Sia links up with The Weeknd & Diplo. Really like Sia's vocals, which are then contrasted by Weeknd. The ending is the track's climax too, which works really well. Give it a listen!