The Weeknd Sells Out His First Madison Square Garden Show
It's as if fans blinked and The Weeknd just became a rockstar. Long gone are the days of the timid Canadian kid with weird hair planting himself in one spot on stage. Now, this is the man who everyone wants a piece of. Many high profile brands have aligned themselves with the Toronto native. Alexander Wang provided The Weeknd's tour wardrobe as a part of an exclusive capsule collection and luxury vaporizer brand PAX has commissioned a special edition vape etched with XO's logo. This Abel dances, uses his mic to mimic home run hits and most importantly, sells out Madison Square Garden. No big deal.
With The Weeknd's Madness Tour making it's first NYC stop at Madison Square Garden on Monday, Nov. 17, longtime fans of young Abel had no reservations about shelling out more money to see their man. The shared excitement of the all-ages show was sensed from the minute you got past the metal detectors. Members of the heavy female audience dressed as if it were an open casting call for one of Weeknd's videos (pouty dark lips, high heels and glassy-eyed expressions) while Midtown professionals still suited up from work and frat bro's made for an entertaining mix of people-watching subjects.
The show started promptly at 7 p.m. with Travis Scott as the first act. As graphics of a rising sun flashed on-screen, Scott prepared the audience for the Rodeo.
La Flame was his usual raucous, rowdy self as he ran through "Pornography," "90210" and more from his debut album Rodeo and urged the crowd to get on his level. "Y'all are at a 9, I need you at a 15." Realizing he had to take matters into his own hands, Travis jumped down to the floor seats level for "3500" and picked a fan to help him on the chorus.
After a quick stage breakdown, next up was synth-pop siren Banks. The L.A. singer strutted on stage in black silk and seemed to capture a few new fans with hits off her 2014 debut album, Goddess.
Then at 9:45 p.m. a huge, neon-lit cage encompassed the majority of the stage and the lights went out. From the minute they heard the first piercing chords of "Real Life," the arena erupted. Running through his most recent discography, August's Beauty Behind The Madness, Weeknd asked for help on the choruses to "Losers" and "Acquainted." The 25-year-old then broke out of the cage and jumped around, literally and figuratively, harmonizing on hits from his past LP's Trilogy and Kissland. After he was about seven songs in, Abel finally introduced himself and his three piece band. He didn't do much talking in between songs, but when he did, he expressed nothing but gratitude.
"We came a long way from the Bowery. The Paradise Theater in the Bronx. Music Hall of Williamsburg, y'all remember that?" he asked the arena. "Now, we doing the fucking Garden. Sold out."
As a part of the "XO celebration" Abel went into deep cuts from his House of Balloons and Echoes of Silence with nostalgic fervor. "I just want to thank my new fans and my Day 1 fans. This is my biggest honor to perform at the most famous venue in the world."
Winding down around 11 p.m., the man of the hour got the crowd dancing with his most pop-infused track to date, "I Can't Feel My Face" and broke out the fireworks for "The Hills." Weeknd weaved in between pyro pillars of fire while fans in the audience used their last bit of battery to catch the moment for Snapchat.
After the fire had been put out and the stage gone black, a few people hustled to the exits to avoid foot traffic. But for those who stayed, Weeknd answered their standing ovation with a hyped remix "Wicked Games."
With two more New York dates this week, Wednesday and Thursday at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, Weeknd will surely take his time showing the same amount of love to the Tri-State crowds that have held him down for years.