Fans of The Weeknd and G-Eazy showed them a lot of love at Voodoo, but the curious remained curious.
I’m buying anybody who loved The Weeknd, but while I saw signs of love throughout the show, I also watched a lot of people just hanging out. Friday night at Voodoo, The Weeknd was a good time but rarely prepossessing. The crowd at Voodoo’s Altar Stage didn’t go home, but much of it didn’t stop talking and didn’t register the beat. They could be reached; people connected with “The Hills” when it started the set, and “I Can’t Feel My Face” and “Starboy” when they ended it. In between, Abel Tesfaye wandered around the big, empty stage seemingly alone with a giant, lit-up triangle hanging over his head, and all that space worked against him. His songs lost some of their signature claustrophobia in the open air of the night, and he didn’t seem to be particularly confined or trapped by the expanse of stage he had to meander.
One possibility is that the PA on the Altar Stage wasn’t kind to voices. At so many levels, this year’s Voodoo was a step up from previous years in terms of the professionalism of the presentation, but The Weeknd and G-Eazy’s voices sounded less than commanding. Another possibility is that’s they just aren’t that strong. No one has ever accused G-Eazy—who preceded The Weeknd—of being a vocal powerhouse, but he was one of the high points Friday at Voodoo simply because it’s hard to imagine anyone who appreciated his or her time slot more. Dressed as The Joker, the rapper who attended Loyola University treated the show like his homecoming and a celebration of the years he spent in New Orleans. He remembered playing opening slots at Voodoo and thanked The Republic, where he regularly played.
Friday night as in his career, G-Eazy got over on his hustle and grind. He worked the friendly, supportive adopted hometown crowd, and brought up a couple for a wedding proposal that culminated in a shower of sparks. He announced that “Donald is a terrorist” in a short song he started titled “Fuck Donald Trump” with the title emblazoned on the backdrop in case anyone was confused. (It’s a chant Rae Sremmurd would pick up a half-hour later.) He brought out The Soul Rebels for a triumphant “Me, Myself & I,” and while none of that strengthened his voice, the set’s vibe helped. G-Eazy made it clear that the moment meant a lot to him, which means something at a time when he is blowing up nationally.