The Weeknd Rocks Chicago
by Savannah Graziano
Canadian Abel Tesfaye is a singer, songwriter, and record producer who goes by the stage name, The Weeknd. Always a mysterious artist, Tesfaye says that he took his stage name mainly because he did not like his birth name. He mentions that the “e” in weekend was dropped from his stage name due to potential copyright issues with the Canadian band, “The Weekend.” The Weeknd began his relatively new career on YouTube and through downloadable music. He released his first mixtape, “House of Balloons,” in 2011. Since then, he has released three studio albums and co-written/been featured in songs by other top artists such as Future, Lana Del Rey, and Drake. During his action packed career, he has headlined six tours. The most recent tour, titled Starboy: Legend of the Fall -- Phase Two, is his second tour for his third studio album, “Starboy,” which was released about a year ago. His performance at the United Center on Thursday, Nov. 2, ended the North American leg of the tour, marking the end of the “Starboy” era in North America.
The entire concert was a visual and vocal work of art that captured the attention of attendees the moment they walked into the stadium. The stage was triangular in shape with a long pathway down the center of the arena with big screens on either side. Special effect LEDs meshed perfectly with synchronized fog bursts around the front of the stage.
NAV and Gucci Mane, the opening acts, made relatively long and dramatic appearances. NAV, an up-and-coming Canadian rapper who signed to Republic Records and The Weeknd’s very own XO label, was the first opener. He split his performance into two sets: one on his drum kit and the other actually rapping. While he did a fairly good job of pumping up the audience, it was nothing in comparison to Gucci Mane’s performance, which felt like a real opening act. His set, which was louder and longer than NAV’s, was too much for some attendees who managed to lose their voices before The Weeknd even made an appearance.
In typical fashion, The Weeknd’s entrance consisted of a dramatic LED show, fog, and staging effects, making it appear that he was beamed down from a spaceship above the stage. This worked beautifully with his dramatic “Starboy” opener and created an experience that Northsider Ashley Chavez, Adv. 903, described as “transcendent” and Angie Iturbide, Adv. 900, called “memorable.” The Weeknd electrified the audience by playing everything from “Starboy” to his first album, “Trilogy,” as well as many single releases that made top-of-the-chart appearances. Fans were pleasantly surprised when NAV came back to the stage to perform “Some Way,” his new single featuring The Weeknd.
However, none of this compared to the almost complete 180 the concert took when The Weeknd stopped for a moment and the first notes of “Angel” began to play. From the first word, the audience became entranced by the emotion emanating from him. There was a slight hush of the audience as they absorbed his passionate singing of the words “I hope you find somebody” that is best summed up by Christina Reavley, Adv. 908, as “mind blowing.” She notes The Weeknd’s impossibly high-high notes as an obvious indication of his talent.
The most dramatic part of the set came towards the end when The Weeknd played hit after hit, ending with “I Feel It Coming” and running off stage. His sudden disappearance left the audience in momentary shock and wonder before what was arguably the best moment of the concert. The LEDs turned back on and the fog machines blasted as the first notes of “The Hills” played, and The Weeknd rose from beneath the stage much like his initial entrance. Grateful for his return, the audience went wild and screamed their hearts out.
Throughout the lengthy show, every song built upon the last, and fans were singing and dancing along to every word as the fog machines blasted at every beat drop. The heart-thumping bass and mosh pit jostling rounded out a perfect concert experience. To describe the concert in one word, Ruby Arias, Adv. 906, used “sensational” without a second thought. When asked about it, Kelly Martinez, Adv. 911, said “I was screaming the whole time. It was a memorable experience that I will never forget. It changed my life.” While not life changing for all, the concert was a definite success and a perfect ending to the North American Starboy era.