Eight things you missed at The Weeknd’s epic show, including a sci-fi stage and a Drake cameo

Eight things you missed at The Weeknd’s epic show, including a sci-fi stage and a Drake cameo

The Weeknd came home Saturday, still riding the success of his chart-topping 2016 record, Starboy. His ACC show—one in a nearly year-long circus of a world tour—was packed with surprises, Abel Tesfaye’s hits and one seriously impressive stage. Here, what you missed at the arena party.

The Weeknd pays it forward
1As Toronto ambassador Drake once did for him, Tesfaye gave his opening-act slot to an up-and-coming local artist: the 27-year-old Rexdale rapper Nav, a recent signee to The Weeknd’s XO label who made waves with his project Perfect Timing this summer. Nav’s stage presence is still a work in progress, but his addictive club joints, like “Biebs in the Trap,” “Myself” and “Some Way,” warmed the building nicely. “Toronto, my city, my everything,” Nav hollered after a 30-minute set. “I f—ing love y’all!”



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French Montana makes a bouncy tour debut
2The evening’s second setup man was New York City’s buoyant French Montana, who made his tour debut with a rapid-fire collection of club bangers, including “Work,” “Pop That,” “Don’t Panic,” “Ain’t Worried About Nothin,” “All the Way Up.” He was decked out in a flashy, blinding-yellow track suit and backed by a DJ and a dancer. Frenchie dubbed Toronto his “second home” and raised the room’s spirits for the main attraction.


Starboy knows how to make an entrance
3Through a stage floor bathed in thick, machine-generated smoke, The Weeknd rose up in the centre of the Air Canada Centre throng, emerging from a hidden basement like a magician. To the screams of his fans, he burst into “Starboy,” standing in a prism of purple lasers and morphing the arena into an R&B Tron world.



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A stage sent from outer space
4The Weeknd’s stage has been aptly compared to the hull of an Imperial Star Destroyer, and our hero commanded the alien behemoth with supreme confidence. He prowled the long catwalk under the sharp-angled spaceship, which jutted out over the sold-out floor and was covered in searing, colour-changing neon lights. Dry ice belched from the ground, fireballs radiated from home base and a skeleton three-man band—guitar, drums, bass/keys—provided musical support.


Toronto.. I love you #starboytour

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Belly high-steps in for a cameo
5Ottawa MC Belly made a jubilant, unannounced appearance, performing his 2015 collaboration with Tesfaye, “Might Not,” which earned one of the night’s rowdiest responses. The reunion of Juno winners wasn’t the show’s only cameo. Toronto OVO rapper Baka Not Nice popped up, and Nav and Montana both returned to the stage.


French and The Weeknd hug it out
6The most joyous moment of the evening occurred midway through The Weeknd’s 90-minute hit barrage. French Montana had teased his hit “Unforgettable” during his opening act, and returned to perform the summer anthem in full, finishing with a little choreographed dance and hug with Tesfaye.


Drake is in the house
7He didn’t hop on stage and snatch the mic, but Drake—The Weeknd’s original co-signer—took a break from TIFF premieres to watch just how far his friend had come. When Tesfaye made a cameo at Drizzy’s OVO Fest in August, Drake asked him about creating an OVO-XO joint album, and again teased a studio collaboration Saturday via an Instagram comment. Before launching into his Drake duet, “Crew Love,” Tesfaye screamed, “Toronto, this is your anthem!”


The Weeknd saves the best for last
8After an onslaught of recognizable hooks, Tesfaye performed his radio smashes “Can’t Feel My Face,” “I Feel It Coming,” and “The Hills,” shutting the show down in winning fashion.

the hills @theweeknd

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