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May 6, 2010

Concert review: Drake at Pier Six Pavilion

drakeMidnight Sun concert reviewer John-John Williams IV saw Drake perform at Pier Six last night. Here are his thoughts:

A couple years ago, I would have thought you were crazy if you told me a former kid actor from Canada would roll into Baltimore and rock the crowd with the same swagger and lyrical prowess of veteran rappers from the gritty streets of America's inner cities.

But that is exactly what Drake did last night at Pier Six Pavilion to a crowd of screaming, head nodding, and in a number of cases, scantily dressed, 20-somethings.

It's amazing that this young import has yet to drop his debut album. (It's coming June 15.) Until now he’s been the collaboration king, working with his mentor Lil' Wayne, fellow newcomer Nicki Minaj and industry heavyweights like Alicia Keys.

But he proved last night that he is more than capable of headlining a show. Who knows? He might even live up to the hype of being the next big thing in rap ...

With an impressive array of rapping and singing skills, Drake's potential seems endless. Toss in his acting roots, and Drake has the potential to be a double threat like LL Cool J, Will Smith, and Ice Cube.

One thing became very apparent when Drake hit the stage last night -- he knows how to work a crowd and connect with his material. His voice was crisp and strong, his lyrics delivered in a clear, confident manner. And the crowd wasn’t sitting there playing the "What did he just say" game while listening to him (Soulja Boy and Lil’ Wayne, take note).

Most importantly, he's likable. At times he's self-deprecating. Instead of shying away from his teeny-bopper TV show roots, he poked fun at it. When he did something as gauche as scanning the pavilion and pointing out all the women in the audience he said he wanted to have sex with, there weren’t the groans and boos you would expect if R. Kelly did the same. There’s just something about him -- call it charisma.

Drake hit the stage hard and energetic. Wearing a black Towson University hoodie, he performed his hit "Forever," and the mostly Towson University crowd went nuts. Drake then transitioned into the fast paced "Unstoppable." By his third song, he ripped off the sweatshirt and launched into the first of several endearing anecdotes he shared with the audience.

"I come here from Toronto, Canada to give you a show ya'll will never forget," he said. That youthful confidence was somewhat comical, yet refreshing. You could tell he really meant it.

While Drake’s concert wasn't the best I've seen in the past 16 months -- Beyonce, Maxwell, and Lady Gaga have a healthy lead -- he did show a lot of promise. With time, I think he might be able to be mentioned in the same breath.

Drake really mixed up his material during his 90 minutes on stage. One minute he was earning street cred with hard lyrics featured in Lil' Wayne’s song "I'm Going In." The next he was crooning to the crowd. A few minutes later he was freestyle rapping. At one point he picked a female fan from out of the crowd and slow danced with her on stage. He even threw in a little comedy when a number of audience members tossed their bras at him.

"I was having a moment on stage and you throw a double D bra at me," a smiling Drake said as he held up the bra in question. A few minutes later, his microphone stand was draped with assorted bras.

My favorite moment of the concert was when he performed "Successful," a beautifully haunting track laced with what sounds like a choir of angels singing in the background. The lavender lights draped over the crowd as a breeze from the harbor cooled the crowd. It was as close to a perfect concert moment as you can get.

The crowd was the loudest when veteran rapper Birdman came on stage and joined Drake for the songs   “4 My Town” and “Money To Blow.” The two had really good chemistry. They fed off each other’s energy, and really worked the crowd.

Drake ended the night by performing his hit "The Best I Ever Had." Considering its title, that song might have been released too early in his career. I think the best is yet to come.

(Photo by Getty Images)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:34 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Concert reviews


Um, Who?

Hey wut ^ drake wutz up

My wife and friends went. I hear the opening acts were more han interesting lol. Had to miss it- poker.

yeah baybee thats drizzy 4 ya!!!!!!!!!! puts on a damn good show 4 da ppl!! thats what he does best (among other things).hes da ... best!!! LUV U DRAKE :-)

Not my cup of tea, so I wasn't there, but I heard from some teachers that there were several very loud "f" bombs dropped during the band's set up and mic testing earlier in the afternoon. This happened while there was a group of children leaving one of the Living Classrooms' boats at Pier 5 right next door. Some class act!

GREAT concert!!! can't wait for the album and the next tour!! i see u Drizzy

he actually ended with over

Drake: if you're reading this... Know that everything will be alright. You're still in my heart and you're an exceptional musician... I heart you. Hold your head high my love and do your thing. See you in NY and you're forgiven by me... See you in March and next week in NY Babe!!! IL09

John-John's review was written very well. For a moment, I imagined myself being at the concert. A friend of mine describes Drake as down to earth and a man with a very kind heart. Did he sing "Over" (I'm Doin Me)?

Great job John-John!!!

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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