The Weeknd at Lollapalooza 2012 | Photos and music review
The south end of Grant Park was as much of a mess as you'd expect following Saturday's deluge. It's a sight we've seen before at Lollapalooza and, as in the past, it didn't seem to deter fans one bit. Mud-encrusted youngsters massed around the stage in anticipation of Abel Tesfaye, the Weeknd, who hit in a camo vest backed by a full band wearing all black. The Weeknd live is a much more muscular beast than the Weeknd on album, and that's not necessarily a good thing. Tesfaye's much-hyped trio of mix-tapes stood out from the rest of the rank-and-file R&B because of its gauzy, lo-fi mystique. That subtlety was nowhere to be found here. Still, I was impressed with the power of Tesfaye's voice, surprisingly strong and confident compared to the thin, reverb-smothered recordings. What's more, the Toronto singer gamely worked the headlining stage without any video accompaniment, which was a casualty of the storm (at least temporarily, it was up again before the Chili Peppers hit). "Man, Mother Nature is a motherfucking bitch," he declared at one point, perhaps after taking in the sight of hundreds of sludge-splattered teens and twentysomethings.
At times Tesfaye recalls the songwriting prowess of The-Dream, and occasionally fellow Canadian Drake. Speaking of, he eventually delivered what it seemed like many were waiting for: "Crew Love," their collabo from the Young Money star's latest, Take Care. It was satisfying, one of the strongest hooks Tesfaye's given us so far, but I couldn't help but think how he would've killed had he played his rendition of Michael Jackson's "Dirty Diana" off last year's Echoes of Silence. At the very least it would've been an interesting experiment to see how many kids even recognized the tune. "Crew Love," though, these kids know.