Drake's long-running 'Club Paradise' tour has been a study of unity and strategy. On both incarnations of the tour, he's assembled a collective of potential rivals and enrolled them as allies. With Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky emerging as the underground leaders of the new school earlier this year, Drake took them on the road on the first leg of the tour.
For the second leg of 'Club Paradise,' which kicked off in Concord, Calif. on Monday (May 7), Drake has assembled a more gully group of rappers in Waka Flocka Flame, Meek Mill, French Montana and 2 Chainz to bring club favorites to stadiums. J. Cole, who's on the bill, didn't perform opening night.
French, 2 Chainz and Meek got love from the assembling crowd, but it was Waka Flocka who kept concert-goers on their feet as darkness fell over the outdoor SleepTrain Pavilion. As Waka tore through songs like "Hard in da Paint," "Grove St. Party," and his bars on Machine Gun Kelly's "Wild Boy," the crowd grew hyped over the thundering bass.
All the aforementioned artists are legitimate draws to Club Paradise, but as the evening progressed it was clear that it's still all about Drake. A collective shriek arose and iPhones jutted into the sky as the lights dimmed again. As the opening chords of "Lord Knows" thundered down, Drake appeared perched on a riser in the middle of the stage as a sectionalized video wall towered over the crowd.
Delivering a more nuanced set than his counterparts, the Toronto native had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Alternating between more raucous songs like Rick Ross' "Stay Schemin,'" on which he brought out French, and the band's gloomy but sultry rendition of "Trust Issues," Drake kept the tempo of the evening alternating without ever losing the audience. After a quick wardrobe change following a rumbling rendition of "Forever," Drake re-emerged as the fuzzy phone conversation at the start of "Marvin's Room" began. Frenemies exchanged knowing glances and women howled as Drake got lost in the story.
The Weeknd made a surprise cameo for his "Take Care" collaboration, "Crew Love," and stayed a little longer to swoon the crowd over with extra crooning. Minutes later Drake kept the guest appearances coming as he brought out 2 Chainz for the live debut of their new collaboration, "No Lie." The juxtaposition of 2 Chainz's exclamatory delivery and Drizzy's spit-singing won the crowd over.
The show hit its stride when Lil Wayne skated across stage for Drake's recent single, "HYFR." After dapping each other, the rappers transitioned to their tribute to the region, "The Motto."
Drake closed the night by performing his mainstream Bay Area ode twice, amping the crowd to an unprecedented level alongside Wayne. The crowd collectively chimed in when Drake shouts out Mac Dre, the inflential local legend who was gunned down in 2004, "I'm in the building and I'm feeling myself / Rest in peace Mac Dre, I'ma do it for The Bay."