Friday Night: The Weeknd at Bayou Music Center
Note: Due to computer difficulties, the photos from Friday were lost. Also, After Friday night's show, The Weeknd canceled his scheduled performance Sunday at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, issuing this statement on his Web site: I'm really disappointed and embarrassed that I can't make it to ACL this evening due to doctor's orders... apparently i pushed my limits last night. I'm deeply sorry to all my fans that were expecting to see me."
Bayou Music Center
October 12, 2012
The Weeknd, born Abel Tesfaye, is a semi-new R&B artist from Toronto, Canada. Until recently, the singer's image was mostly hidden, recognizable only by a crop of songs uploaded to YouTube in 2010, a self-released trilogy of albums in 2011 -- House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence -- and a sweet yet very misleading Prince-like symbol: XO.
The "XO" that The Weeknd touts, sometimes latched onto the end of collaborator and fellow Canadian Drake's "OVO" (October's Very Own) logo, is not a Sweet Valley High reference to hugs (X) and kisses (O); it does, however, stand for Ecstasy and Oxycodone, two drugs that were or were not being used in abundance at the singer's show Friday at Bayou Music Center.
When you combine the 20-year-olds mashed together in Bayou Music Place Friday night, the hazy cloud hanging over their mass on the general admissions level of the venue and the strung-out lyrics of The Weeknd, it's all too easy to dismiss the singer's bubble jacket-wearing brand as stoner music, and his listeners as pothead acolytes to his hazy ministry of sex, drugs, and more sex and drugs.
But extract two from those three -- The Weeknd and the twentysomethings -- then pair them together, and what crystallizes is a reveal of these youngsters' missteps and mistakes, an uncertainty about how the rest of their lives will turn out and how, for some of them, that desperation becomes a perfect breeding environment for, well, sex and drugs.
Consequently, "High for This," "Wicked Games" and "Next," the three songs that prompted the strongest audience reaction Friday night, best emulate The Weeknd's message.
"Bring your love, baby. I can bring my shame/ Bring the drugs, baby. I could bring my shame/ I got my heart right here/ I got my scars right here," sang Weeknd, his voice drowned out by eager, empathetic concertgoers.
"Can you put your lighters up, please?" he asked before beginning "Wicked Games," and the ones responsible for that cloud of smoke made themselves known, to the delight of flashlight-wielding security guards and police officers.
The Weeknd is one of the few artists to seamlessly weave contradictions; eliciting both disgust as well as sympathy as a lovelorn lothario is no easy feat. Take his performance of "Love Through Her," for example.
"Going back in time when I feel her/ She touching me; it's too familiar/ The way she doing the things/ She does exactly the way you used to," he moaned.