The rapper had already heard all of the criticisms of his headlining set at the festival in April. He promised that he wasn’t going to have a show similar to that, one where he seemed like a boy delivering ample amounts of sound and effort into a vacuum.
At the opening night (May 24) of his Jungle Tour in Houston, part of a finale to his second Houston Appreciation Weekend, Drake made plenty of concessions, including one that signaled a roar within the city’s Toyota Center.
“Look, whichever city has the livest fans on the Jungle Tour, I’m bringing OVO Fest to their city in the next couple of years,” Drake said.
It definitely should rub his hometown fans in Toronto the wrong way but it’s a gamble for Drake. One he wants to pay off just as bad as Houston Appreciation Weekend has.
Sunday night meant that the show was completely on him. No pool parties to feign attendance at, no tribute events where he had to deliver speeches like a politician. No softball games for him to play left field in a number 24 jersey. Just him and the stage, him and the moving “jungle” he had created at Coachella that he decided to bring to Houston.
“Oh my God, it feels good to be home,” he said after opening the show with “Legend,” from his Feb. 2015 album, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. “I was born in Toronto, but it feels like Houston adopted me.”
The adopted portion has rubbed some locals the wrong way during the four-day mix of parties, charity events and concerts. Drake, always one to publicly show emotion when the time calls for it, made a calculated barb at detractors of not only him, but the weekend itself.
“I don’t give a f–k what any n—a say about me — this is a city that I love and I’m gonna give y’all all of me,” he stomped before leading into “Worst Behavior.” “F–k what they gotta say.”
The celebrities, some of whom have been in Houston during the duration of HAW were shown on the Toyota Center video board. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. were among the many famous faces, some of whom brought as many as 50 people as part of an entourage to converge upon the downtown Houston arena.
Unlike last year’s intimate performance at Warehouse Live, which covered hits and such rarities as his personal “B-Sides” show, the opening night of the Jungle Tour picked up where Coachella left off, aiming for the hits and trying not to miss too big.
“Madonna,” the track which led to the Queen of Pop sealing a much talked about kiss on Drake’s lips in April was flipped instead to honor Rihanna. (Watch the video above.) The crowd bobbed and jerked when the opening chords of “Know Yourself” arrived and counted up to 10 before being led into “10 Bands.”
For a weekend that showed much of Drake’s extended reach among various fields of entertainment, the opening night of the Jungle tour, the crown jewel of this year’s HAW lacked in the guests department. Native Houstonian Travi$ Scott, he of “Company” fame from IYRTITL didn’t appear. Nor did anyone else for that matter. For two hours, it was Drake, offering jokes and banter, omitting Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry’s name from his “0-100” track to placate Houston Rockets fans by his lonesome.
His voice stood proud during “Jungle,” shifted downward when performing “Hold On, We’re Going Home” for the lovers in the audience and decided to close with a reprise of “Legend.”
“H-Town until I die,” he stated with emphasis, walking off the stage rather satisfied.