Concert Review: The DAMN. Tour

Date: July 25, 2017

Venue: Air Canada Centre

Lineup: DRAM, Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar

I walked into the ACC just as Travis Scott was being introduced. I had to miss DRAM because of wok. He’s a one-hit wonder with “Broccoli” until he proves otherwise. Maybe I’ll catch him next time around.

I had put Travis’s sophomore album Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight in rotation when it came out last year expecting to give it a couple of listens and move on. Instead it won me over and carved out a place in the rotation. I am skeptical of autotune-rappers’ live shows, but Travis exceeded my expectations. Live vocal effects on the mic, combined with high energy, a mechanical bird to fly around on and a bunch of bells and whistles kept the show interesting and entertaining.

Kendrick was introduced with a kung fu movie style vignette. He had ninjas dance-fighting on stage, with his raps repelling attacks. The kung fu vignettes continued through different parts of the show with Kung Fu Kenny on a mission for “the Glow”. Parts of it were weird, but it was mostly cool. The ninja practicing moves to repeated chants of “Ain’t nobody praying for me” was a bit unsettling and might have gone on a bit too long. Kendrick himself performed well. My one complaint is his use of a backing vocal track for his hooks. It brings down the connection with the audience. At least have a real live hype man if you don’t wanna perform those hooks yourself. A live voice, even if it isn’t the main artist’s, is just more visceral than a recording. This was most noticeable on “Alright” and “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe”.

When he performed “Humble”, the audience took over the song at the end of the first verse and hook. They dropped the beat out and the place just went nuts for 3 or 4 minutes. Kendrick thanked Toronto for always supporting him and did the song from the top again. It was a cool moment. It was my first time seeing him live, but many in the crowd had seen him open for others and now he’s finally headlining.

Travis and Kendrick are both very good performers. I’d see either of them again. The DAMN. Tour delivers.