On Tuesday night, The Weeknd returned to Houston’s Toyota Center for yet another sold-out performance, marking his second in less than five months. Despite the lack of new material, fans were as eager as ever to see the soulful hip-hop artist in action.
The evening began with a quick set from PNDA, a modern era DJ that drummed along to a backtrack of rambunctious club hits and remixes. With his official social media tags plastered across the LED screens back stage, PNDA made sure to engage the audience in his performance in an attempt to capitalize on his precious moments with the early attendees. Shortly thereafter, Canadian hip-hop artist NAV, who is appropriately signed to The Weeknd’s label, XO, as well as Republic Records, took the stage. Though only recently releasing music of his own, NAV has played a key role behind the scenes as a well established producer in the hip-hop world, working with notable artists like Drake, Travis Scott and Kodak Black on various releases. Closing out the “openers” was French Montana, a Moroccan-American hip hop artist who recently released his sophomore studio album, “Jungle Rules” which topped the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.
After the openers, the arena fell into a short stupor as stage hands prepared the massive, futuristic, spaceship-looking stage and props for The Weeknd. When the house music cut out and the lights began to dim, patrons with floor-seats rushed to the barricades surrounding the narrow, stage protrusion that reached out into the center of the Toyota Center. For those unlucky enough to have purchased the highly sought after “front-row” seats, they were quickly met with disappointment as a crowd nearly four rows deep now stood between them and the stage.
The Weeknd’s performance began with the classic “rise up from under the stage” grand entrance as his smash hit “Starboy” resonated throughout the arena. Rarely making his way to what seemed to be the main portion of the stage, The Weeknd stayed center-arena on the narrow protrusion as he took fans on a journey through his soulful discography. About halfway through the set, however, The Weeknd stepped out of the limelight and allowed French Montana and NAV to take center stage while performing a selection of collaborations with the artist.
As the Weeknd neared the end of his performance, fans seemed to be unable to contain their excitement and cheered so loud that Abel Makkonen Tesfaye (The Weeknd) appeared to step out of his stage persona and into his human skin by falling silent on stage, removing his earpieces and simply smiling to the crowd for nearly a minute as he embraced the inundation of screams and claps. Two songs later, the evening came to a close and fans exited the arena beaming with joy and satisfaction.