Most fans probably hoped that Rihanna would join Drake last night
, but there was no Ri-Ri sighting during his first of two back-to-back gigs in Oakland.
But, hey, Kevin Durant made an appearance.
During the final act of Drake's two-and-a-half hour set, he introduced the Oracle crowd for the first time to their new all-star, Durant, who joined the Toronto pop star/rapper on stage just before midnight. Drake also kicked off his show donning a No. 35 Durant jersey.
Guess we know where Steph, Dray, and Klay stand ...
The sold-out performance was the first Northern California stop for Drake's forty-date Summer Sixteen
jaunt with Future. His set was broken up into four acts and featured many songs from his latest release, Views
, and also included a thirty-minute solo set by Future. The two also performed songs together from their collaboration mixtape, What a Time to Be Alive
Local rapper Kamaiyah and fellow Canadian rapper Roy Woods opened.
It's no secret that, when it comes to hip-hop, if you're not a rabid fan of the artist, performances can get a bit dry. But there was no dry Drake last night. Visually, his show was split into acts: The first featuring a production design of elevating stages, rear strobe and spot lights, and flashing, chromatic video. Drake hustled and worked all corners of the stage, which spanned the width of a basketball court's baseline, while running through hits such as "Headlines" and "Started from the Bottom."
The second set, however, truly wowed. A glowing, fluorescent pink, globe-shaped ball dropped from the ceiling. Drake sang to it, then broke into "Hotline Bling" — and hundreds of balls fell from the rafters:
At the midway point of his set, Drake also flew over the crowd (perhaps appropriate to use the hashtag #FloatingSoftDrake):
Future took the baton after an hour of Drake and did about thirty-minutes of his own tunes. Frankly, the audience took this Drake Break to use the restroom and reload on drinks. When Drake reappeared, the two ripped through tracks from What a Time
The crowd seemed to be dominated by out-of-town fans. At one point, the deejay asked "Oakland, make some noise!" Then he called out S.F. and San Jose — and San Jo was by far the loudest.
The final act of his performance featured total integration of the production, stage and light design — plus dancers — and culminated with the Durant cameo.
I'm not a huge Drake fan and, admittedly, gravitate toward the harder and stranger tracks, such as those off If You're Reading This ...
But the man is clearly a showman that's unafraid to give the crowd what it wants: big lights, explosions, fire, sexy talk, outfit changes (3), cameos, and fun.
That said, while riding BART home, I kept thinking back to the Kendrick Lamar performance I caught last month in Los Angeles, at FYF Fest, and the shirt he wore at that gig (no costume changes). It read: "Image more valued than truth."
Unsurprisingly, Lamar's set embraced a more raw and authentic live experience than Drake, complete with full backing band and minimalist video production (sequences from Black pop-culture, such as Ron Artest's "Malice in the Palace," Oprah Winfrey exalting, or Don King at a podium, etc).
Lamar seemed adamant to use hip-hop, jazz, and even spoken word to peel away at the collision of Black culture and popular music — to find some piece of truth, and to let the audience be uncomfortable with that discovery. Whereas Drake, what with his talent, was clearly satisfied with bangers, soft ballads, big lights, and sports superstars.
Not sure what that has to do with anything — and I realize comparing the two artists is by no means apples-to-apples — but that's what my take-home from my date with Drizzy.
Drake will perform again tonight at Oracle at 7 p.m. — but only after-market tickets are available, sorry.
Oh, and for kicks, some Lamar videos from Los Angeles last month: