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You Review: Drake … and my review too

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Near the end of Thursday night’s jam-packed show at Save Mart Center, Drake stopped to tell Fresno that the show was one of the best nights of his professional career. The crowd, of course, went nuts.

Drake probably says that to all the cities, but it doesn’t really matter. The scene goes to illustrate the most overwhelming fact about Drake’s Fresno debut — he had the crowd eating out of his hand at every turn.

That’s why I almost hesitate to ask this, because I’m sure I already know the answer: Fresno, what did you think of Drake? Judging by the reactions from the crowd, I’m thinking you loved him. But, how about telling us more? What did you love about the show? What did you think of the setlist? About Drake’s demeanor on stage? 

Chime in on those and anything else you like. While you think about it, read over my thoughts below and peruse a few more pics from The Bee’s Craig Kohlruss (above and the next two) and some pics and vids from me.

UPDATE: Added some videos below. You can also now download a Drake wallpaper from fresnobee.com. Finally, anybody fuming mad about Drake not showing up for a supposed afterparty at Rome Nightclub?

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DRAKE
It’s been said before that Drake could be the next Jay-Z. He’s got a cool confidence about him and a knack for producing hit after hit after hit while still keeping some credibility with more hard-nosed hip-hop fans. The comparison stuck with me Thursday night during Drake’s feverish, jam-packed Fresno debut at Save Mart Center.

The show, in a number of ways, was almost like a junior version of Jay-Z’s 2009 stop at Save Mart Center. Both were packed with music — Drake fit a lot of hits into his 90 minutes set. Both rappers were backed by a live band — Drake’s five-piece was an impressive surprise. Both rappers were adored by fans — though Drake definitely edged out Hov in the squealing-women category.

Drake even spent a portion of the show calling out audience members and saying things like “I see you” or thanking them for coming. Jay-Z did the same thing. He just didn’t waste as much time doing it.

Which gets us to the meat of all this: Drake’s show, while certainly good, could use some tightening. He spent far too long shouting out sections of the audience and pointing out fans. That’s just my take, of course. Given the response, I think the screaming, predominantly-female crowd would have been happy if Drake just talked to them for an hour about their clothes and their signs adorned by his catchphrases. Music be damned.

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There was another moment where Drake stopped what he was doing and rapped over a song by his boss Lil Wayne. It seemed an amateur moment for a non-amateur guy, a guy who happens to be sitting on top of the rap world right now and whose current sold-out-almost-everywhere tour is a testament to his status as a budding rap king.

It’s rare that we get an artist in Fresno at the pinnacle of their career — and Drake is probably the biggest star in music right now not named Adele. 

Thus the crowd reacted accordingly. People rapped along to every word, even the album cuts and new songs that are only on the Internet. Women shouted out that they loved him. One even threw her bra (with her phone number written on it) right into his hand.

When Drake played the Cool Guy role, he was at his best. The start of the show, for instance, was electrifying. He was full of energy, bouncing around stage, relentlessly cycling through five songs in about 10 minutes. Later, he would coo at the crowd in between songs, showing off that ever-present swagger that’s elevated him to heartthrob status.

The big question for me heading into Thursday’s night show was whether Drake had the charisma and charm in person that he has on his records, and also if he had that intangible star power that so many hip-hop artists seem to lack. Jay-Z has it. Drake, well, he’s almost there. But for a 25-year-old, with only two albums under his belt, he’s getting mighty close.


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OPENING ACTS: A$AP ROCKY AND KENDRICK LAMAR

To be 100% honest, I was most excited and most curious about A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar heading into Thursday’s show. Both are on-the-rise rap stars, both aren’t on-the-radio-all-the-time guys like Drake is. And both aren’t who you expect to see in a big arena.

Being the opening act at an arena show is tough. Especially for rappers. It’s hard to make the performance anything except for squashed and sterile.

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Rocky (above) found a way to bring a lot of energy to his brief performance. The rattling bass of his songs didn’t hurt. He reminded of an early ’90s gangster rapper in his dress, but his demeanor was different. He was quite thankful for the big crowd.

Kendrick Lamar — who just signed with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label — didn’t fare as well. He got lost a little bit on the big stage. He had some good songs, but I couldn’t help but think he’d be great to see in a place like Fulton 55 where he could build a better rapport with the crowd.



YOUR TURN
Sounds off in the comments about Drake, A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar. Go!

Responses to "You Review: Drake … and my review too"

Tommy says:

Rome must be thrilled to finally have a full crowd on a Thursday night since new management has taken over…can’t believe they are trying to launch country Wednesdays there too..lol.Anyways…was it a completely sold out show?

Mike Oz says:

Looked like it. What’s Club Rome have to do with this?

Tommy says:

Um…the after-party?Or are you playing coy…lol

Mike Oz says:

The post is about the concert. An after-party is tiddlywinks.

Tommy says:

Well thanks for asking cause my connection between Rome & the concert was rather vague…but now it’s clear.

Mike Oz says:

Do you get $10 every time you mention Rome or something? Geez.

Tommy says:

I like turtles.

Tommy says:

Soemone else just mentioned the after hour party on your own facebook page.Not sure what direction with my post you are trying to take…lol

Stephen says:

I didn’t go, I don’t care.

However, Craig’s photos are amazing! Maybe cuz the lighting an Drake’s poses were equally so.

Mike Oz says:

I just sense you have an ulterior motive, Tommy. Consider what was said about you in the Drake post from this morning.

Tommy says:

I didn’t catch anything said about me…lol…was it funny at least?

John Dinsdale says:

Mike,

I’m sorry, I have to comment on this. I am a big hip hop fan, from the very beginning to the present. I don’t know every rap song but I am acceptably knowlegeable, as I know you are, too, if not more. I, however, have yet to catch on to the Drak hype.

I think he’s talented & I’ve heard him spit some incredible verses/hooks. But I feel like every single he’s released sounds exactly the same just different words. “The Motto” is the only song I could differentiate from his other popular singles since “Forever.”

I did not see Jay-Z in Fresno, unfortunately, but I have seen him in concert. I’ve also seen Eminem & LL Cool J. Some of the greatest. I think Drake would have put on a great show & I was considering purchasing a ticket but not for $95.

I suppose my question is what makes you/others a fan? I just can’t seem to get it, lol.

Tommy says:

Why so on edge?Didn’t see you accuse the other guy on your page for mentioning Rome on your facebook.He’s a known promoter too…lol…forgive me for failing to get your motives concerning me.

Mike Oz says:

First off, I wouldn’t consider myself a Drake fan. I was kinda expecting to hate the show. He surprised me. Why do others like him? The sing/rap combo thing, the catchy songs, the bravado and confidence, but he also shows vulnerability. And, really, a lot of women just think he’s hot.

Mike Oz says:

I don’t have motives, Tommy. But I think you do. I’ve seen you bad-mouthing Rome all over Facebook, which is your right. But if you do it on my blog and I think it’s fishy, I’m going to call you on it.

John Dinsdale says:

Okay, that makes me feel better.

Tommy says:

LOL…You’ve seen nothing of the sort other than people tagging stuff on my personal profile and the channel 47 video story that I dropped links to that does the actual talking,not me.Once again your distrust is astounding and funny.

Jeremy Ayala says:

Man, I didnt get to catch this show but I have seen em in concert at UCSB wher he killed it. That was 3 years ago before alot of the hype. His music has only gotten better and better in my opinion. His lyrics and delivery are what makes him stand out. Not to mention his rnb side which pretty ill if I may say so..I know having weezy as his right hand man probly helped him a bit. But drizzy is at the top. Hands down the best Artist out next to wiz k. Drake is a game changer.

Jeremy Ayala says:

A$AP is goin hard right now too. Would’ve loved to seen em in concert. Guess I have to wait til 4/20 when him and khalifa man perform in SF. Gotta bring them back to the back to the 559!!

Will Jones says:

Drake….
Nothing special. He just made the ladies come out. I mean his music is nothing special. A $100 to see the watered down version of Phonte Coleman (The Foreign Exchange) who came to Fresno last summer & killed it….for under $60 a ticket. Not a Drake fan but as long as my nieces liked it that was cool & you right the opening acts are for Fulton 55 or Starline not that big stage but all i just heard was the smaller light skinned swagga jacka of Phonte impress the ladies. Hes no JayZ in my book & as a true school older hiphop head this act is like a young LL Cool J. Few fellas like him but the ladies like him but if you wanna hear where he STOLE his style from & his idol which he has admitted many of times go pick up a Little Brother, The Foreign Exchange, or Phonte’s own class “Charity Starts at Home”.
Did i mention all the ladies at the concert??!!!

jaurique says:

opening acts didnt impress me and i would have rather seen local openers instead…….. drake gave an amazing performance. only thing i thought was the crowd shout outs was too long. its rare to see an artist so into his performance and give his all like drake did. i took my sons age 11 and 12, we sat 2nd row center .they told me was one of best times they had ever. overall 1 of best performances have ever been to

Howard says:

Look at all the little girls, homemade signs, and auto tune.

I did not know American Idol stopped by last night.

manny phresh says:

I personally am a fan of hip hop but as far as a great show it was aite. I went to see eminem in 2010 sept at epicenter and that was thee first hip hop artist ive seen and it was amazing nothing compared to drake. He lacked keeping the crowd pumped. The slow song almost put me to sleep. He needs more strong hits not these girly songs they keep puttin in front of him hova is one of thee best. You cNt really compare the two at all. If drake can some how find a way to stop making such sappy feel sorry for me my hearts broken bullish and make some howd jay z put it cajones made songs he would be great till then work on ur shows drake, needs more music less interlude ;)

Marc M. says:

A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar: BIG fans of both, and I agree with Mike’s sentiment that if they did a show together at a smaller venue like Fulton 55, you’d feel their energy a helluva lot more. I’m pretty sure I was the only one in my section reciting the lyrics to A$AP’s “Peso” or Kendrick’s “Hol’ Up”. To make another comparison with the Jay-Z show, the crowd during their performances was eerily similar to the crowd J. Cole had when he opened up for Jay-Z. Here’s hoping that both of them are able to follow-up with the same success in the years to come.

Drake: As a hip-hop music fan, I’ve always been back and forth about Drake’s output, but he gained a lot more respect from me in that he recognizes the “girl” songs he does and owns up to it. That level of honesty is something that I really, really, REALLY hope isn’t contrived. The shout-outs to every numbered section of the Save Mart Center dragged, and there was one slow song where me and my friend decided to take our sit break, but otherwise his live show exceeded my expectations.

Damian says:

Drake is cool but to compare him to Phonte is an insult…. to Phonte, stop it.
To everybody else, March has some great offerings in the small venue hip hop scene in Fresno
The Knux at Audie’s, Wu Tang Tribute night at Fulton 55, and the highlight Black Milk on the 21st at the Fulton 55

Anon says:

Tommy you’re pathetic. You spend everyday of your miserable life finding any posting about Club Rome on Facebook and finding a way to bash the club. Get over it already.

Tommy says:

Really “Anon”? LOL you just accused me of starting the Drake got the flu rumor on another Beehive story…you got a hard-on for me buddy?You a promoter?Just curious.Sounds like Fresno Partypeople from FB talking right here…or maybe I’m just seeking attention and I am “ANON” too…lol…

Ayden says:

Wow such expensive tickets for a 90(!) minute show and some underground at best acts?
Glad I dont like this fake hip hop type of music.

Jess says:

I saw Drake about 2 years ago in San Jose. I must say that the vibe in San Jose was much better. The crowd in Fresno is just rough. His performance was much better here than in San Jose which shows that he is improving and growing as an artist. I will not see him again in Fresno but will travel to San Jose to see him. I also think that because his opening acts in San Jose were Far East Movement and Bruno Mars it made it much better where his opening acts in Fresno were nothing impressive.

Sarah says:

The concert was exactly what I thought it would be- amazing! He played most of his new tracks from Take Care but also threw in some past hits which I loved.. The lighting, backdrop, and live instruments was dope.. I loved when he stopped and talked to the audience as well; I’ve never seen another artist or band do that before. I only got to see Kendrick Lamar, wasn’t too thrilled on his performance but I liked his songs. Bummed I didn’t get to see A$AP Rocky though. All-in-all, I’m glad Drake made a stop in Fresno and I had the chance to go! :)

Mr. Incognito says:

Well, out of the depths I return. I’d like to think that I’m a “hip hop” junkie myself, however, I can be completely honest by saying that I’ve only heard maybe three or four of Drakes songs EVER, I’m talkin’ like EVER!

I found myself waking up yesterday morning and thinking, “What am I going to do today”; no sooner had I thought about my day, my phone vibrates and I find my day planned out for me.

The concert in and of itself was cool in the sense that I got to peep A$AP and K Dot, two emcees who’ve been receiving a lot of hype throughout the country.

I enjoyed A$AP more than K Dot only because $AP seemed to be completely confortable with the stage, the crowd, and also because dude came with a goon squad crew. If you’re going to have bass bumpin’ through the speakers, a look like a character from the Wire, Boys In The Hood, or Friday, you’ve got to have a goon squad crew!

This dude Drake was interesting because he was adored by the ladies and I can’t lie, there were a bunch of dudes singing along to his songs too. I’m not a dude who sings along to a dude, who sings to other dudes (Tropic Thunder steez)! I joke, I joke, I kid, I kid.

Drake entered the arena and I thought to myself, this is going to be interesting due to the fact I was flying into all of this blind. The very first sound I heard from the band had me thinking we were going to be in for a special night. There were definite highs and lows to the night but overall, I think the kid did okay. I mean let’s be real, he sold out Save Mart Center!

I was standing front row when Aerosmith and Lenny Kravitz came rolling through, I was front row for the group formerly known as Black Eyed Peas, the same for Gwyn Stefani and M.I.A., but Drake had a feel unlike any of the aforementioned shows. There was an energy that filled the place and it was certainly due to the fact that the kid has “it”, whatever “it” means.

In closing, I think the show was a B, I thought B- but I’m giving it that rating simply because he did what he set out to do, move the crowd.

The next hip hop show at the Save Mart Center probably won’t yeild the same result only because there won’t be any women present for it.

IF YOU BUILD IT FOR THE LADIES, YOU’RE SET FOR SOME TIME! (So many entertainers miss this little detail).

Till next time kids,

Incognito

norma jean molina says:

it was an amazing show… i wish he played longer.. only 1 hr. 15 min/ or so.. but- he can only do so much- it would of been nice- if his stage was more in the crowd… so, it’s more personal… besides being upfront… but i loved it- and loved dressing up sexy just for the concert.. hee.. hee…;] guys were in heaven- lets just say that.. lol ;p

gobettiego says:

I didn’t have any expectations but to have a good time and even though I was in the nose bleed section I had fun! However I didn’t like that he didn’t do full length songs and they were mash ups I guess I am also used to longer set list, does anyone have a set list?

I feel bad for those hoochies with the dresses 3 sizes too small waiting him at the club…I never thought he was going there…. I know I wouldn’t.