All words: m.m. zonoozy
I was only half as swooned for The Weeknd as the rest of the sold out 9:30 Club Thursday night. A girl in the front did faint just to be warded off à la burlap sack – that sort of excitement is hard to beat. That’s like me as a 13-year-old girl at my first Britney concert. Sorry, I ramble. I’m a 25-year-old man now, I should write better.
Abel Tesfaye, better known by the creatively spelled moniker, is traveling on a much-anticipated North American tour in support of a hat trick of mixtapes, including his latest “Echoes of Silence.” The DC leg sold out in just a few hours, with resale listings topping $200 per general admission. Admitted, I wouldn’t have paid 50+ Doritos Locos Tacos for this humble of a performance, but it was a solid listening party nonetheless.
Tesfaye made up for a casual hour of tardiness Thursday by opening with the infectious knock of “High for This.” By first chorus, it became evident that everyone at the concert was going sing-along, which is wildly impressive for an artist without an LP. Tesfaye transitioned into his acclaimed rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana” before breezing through a little over an hour of etherealness. His stage-presence wasn’t much, but evidently didn’t need to be (see fainting girl). You could see some attitude in the occasional head flair during “The Party & The After Party.” At other times, the lack of choreography complimented the murkiness of his sound, almost darkening the already haunting vocals on “The Knowing.”
The allure of The Weeknd is rooted heavily in Tesfaye’s mysterey. By not pushing PR, live appearances, or YouTube videos, he’s kept a basement vibe despite all the Internet hype. People still think he’s their little secret, and it seems as though the camera shy Canadian crooner wouldn’t mind keeping it that way.
And perhaps secrecy is what this show missed. The crowd was a little too familiar – a little too comfortable. Given the only-in-the-night type shit Tesfaye sings about, the lights could’ve been dimmed and the band’s eyes a bit smokier. I wanted his mic to be louder, his falsettos more controlled and deliberate. I wanted them to paint that sinful picture before going spotlight-crazy on a Stratocaster solo.
But maybe I’m asking for too much. The Weeknd obviously isn’t my little secret anymore.