by Ama Debrah
On October 26th and 27th, the infamous and mysterious Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, performed two sold-out shows at Terminal 5. Although this was not The Weekend’s first performance in NYC, having held two shows at the Music Hall of Williamsburg and The Bowery Ballroom last April, his Terminal 5 performances mark his first official tour “The Fall” before the release of his debut album, Trilogy. Trilogy is comprised of all the tracks from The Weeknd’s three previous mixtapes, House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence, in addition to three new songs.
Although The Weeknd’s popularity may have initially been based on his collaborations with Drake on the songs “Trust Issues,” “The Zone,” and “Crew Love,” The Weeknd has proven time and time again that he is talented and gifted enough to become as big, if not a bigger, star than Drake on his own merit.
After missing out on tickets to The Weeknd’s April performances, I made a point to get up early and order my tickets in the seven minute window that they went on sale and sold-out. Although I was expecting a packed crowd, I didn’t realize the sheer amount of people that would be vying to fit into Terminal 5. Even though the doors opened at 8pm, when I arrived around 8:50, the line to get in was still wrapped around Terminal 5 all the way to the next block.
After finally getting into the smoke-filled venue 45 minutes later, my friend and I attempted to push through the crowd to be able to see some sliver of the stage. As people drank and lit up, a DJ got the crowd hyped with hip hop and rap hits while blacks balloons with The Weeknd’s signature “XO” logo were tossed around.
When the crowd erupted into a roar at 10:15, it could only mean one thing: The Weeknd was here. Amid multiple flashing strobe lights propped on the stage and large projectors showing grainy black-and-white videos of half-dressed women smoking and sitting in bathtubs filled with balloons, The Weeknd arrived on stage. Any doubts I had that The Weeknd wouldn’t be able to hit his famous falsetto notes live were immediately destroyed as he started off the concert with his hit, “Lonely Star.”
The Weeknd played all his hits to perfection, including “Wicked Games,” which he prefaced by saying was a “very special song” to him. He also played “The Birds Part 1,” which featured a musical intro between The Weeknd and a girl singing on the projector. Even though The Weeknd is not necessarily considered “mainstream,” the entire crowd sang along with every single word, and sometimes it was even hard to hear him over the enthusiasm of the audience. But the best part of the concert was The Weeknd’s overall interactions with the crowd. Though he’s been criticized in the past for lacking stage presence, The Weeknd’s connection with the crowd was incredible.
Although he may have millions of fans right now, if The Weeknd’s performances last weekend were any indication, it’s only a matter of time before XO takes over the world.
Ama Debrah is a junior at Barnard and Arts and New York Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.
Image courtesy of I Eat Junk Food.