A Starboy is born

The Weeknd. Photo by Leon Laing.

I’ve been following The Weeknd since day one.

At that time, his group was called The Weeknd. “Love Through Her” stood out as one of my favorite songs. Then the Canadian-based singer, né Abel Tesfaye, took The Weeknd as his stage name. About two Grammy Awards and one co-sign from Drake later, The Weeknd would chop off his Basquiat-like hairdo and become a pop sensation. He became mainstream while keeping his street cred and without compromising his music’s integrity.

His concert at State College’s Bryce Jordan Center justified his pop status. On Sept. 6, he kicked off the second phase of his Starboy tour. Before Tesfaye came on the grandiose stage, a massive spaceship-like prop with lights ascended above the stage. The prop was reminiscent of Kanye’s movable stage from his 2016 concert at BJC.

Using mostly women as his muse, the Starboy impressed concertgoers with his falsetto and Michael Jackson moves. During his hour-long performance, he performed songs ranging from ballads (“Acquainted”) to pop (“Can’t Feel My Face”) to soul and/or hip-hop (“Often,” “Reminder” and “Tell Your Friends”). The crowd sang along to “Earned It.” For day-one fans like myself, he sang hits such as 2011’s “Wicked Games.”

When The Weeknd isn’t dominating the charts, he’s dabbling in the fashion industry. H&M will release its second collaboration with Tesfaye on Sept. 28. The singer also has a sneaker line with Puma.

I had to make my way backstage around 8:45 p.m., so I only saw Gucci Mane perform “Both” (featuring Drake). Gucci wore the Supreme shirt that displays a photo of himself. On Oct. 13, BET will air The Mane Event, a show about his wedding with Keyshia Ka’oir.

Around 8 p.m., NAV, the Indian-Canadian rapper, opened up first. The artist, who is clad in checkered shirts sometimes in his videos, wore a plaid jacket during the concert. The artist inked a deal with The Weeknd’s XO label. With his nasally voice, NAV crafts introspective songs. His setlist included “Minute,” an energetic song featuring Playboi Carti and Offset. During “Fell in Love,” he interpolated. “I fell in love with Penn State,” NAV said. Cell phones illuminated the dimly lit BJC during “Myself.” Later, he gave a surprise performance, appearing on stage with The Weeknd during “Some Way.”

By Leon Laing. Additional reporting by Christian Laing.

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