By: Tania Peralta (@hearitfromtania) –
Everyone must have still been at home watching the Super Bowl because nearly an hour after the line started moving at The Danforth Music Hall, the venue was still less than half empty. With unpredictable outcomes of the game and Pusha T being a football man, many fans turned to Twitter and figured he wouldn’t be on stage until it was over. Thankfully for the fans that were there, Toronto’s Bevstmode made their way on stage and made the wait bearable.
Bevstmode had an entourage of six people on stage. As expected, they spun music that catered to the demographic of hip-hop heads standing before them. When it comes to hip-hop shows, the energy in the room and overall show is highly affected by the opener. Here in Toronto, the social politics in the air taint so many hip-hop shows after a Toronto-based artist performs, whom no one is familiar with. Mostly everyone is left wondering how they even got on the bill. Finding the artist to open and ensure that they satisfy the majority of the fans with has served to be difficult for a lot of Toronto hip-hop shows in the past, which is why a good hour-long DJ set is often the better way to go than default music being played by the venue and a 20-minute set by an artist who shouldn’t even be up there. That being said, a DJ set, especially because of their duration, should still contain an enticing presence and some sort of interaction with the crowd.
With fans in the crowd already worried about when Pusha would even make it on stage, it would have been beneficial for everyone there if Bevstmode would have had some MCing throughout their set. As with any performance, fans want to be taken care of. Bevstmode could have further more ensured that with some verbal interaction. There was no introduction from either one of them about who they were aside from some inserted “Bevstmode” drops within the tracks they were playing, however even these drops were hard to catch for anyone who didn’t already know who they were. It would have been beneficial for them to ensure the crowd knew who they were, especially since the music they played was well received.
However, regardless of the way they just appeared and disappeared from the stage, Bevstmode did their job well in the way they were timely, appropriate for the show and played long enough to provide a smooth transition into Pusha’s set.
As Bevstmode exited, Pusha’s DJ made his way on stage and quickly made it clear that Pusha would be shortly coming out to the stage. Less than 10 minutes later, there he was.
Pusha T opened with “King Push”, which set a clear image of his stage presence. Accompanied by a hype-man and the obvious chemistry between each other and the DJ, the audio being generated was one of the best that Toronto has seen in hip-hop. As he performed “Blocka” and “Millions” it was evident that his best on-stage skills are in maintaining a clear voice and keeping his breath under control.
The thing with rap music is that a song might be one of the best within hip-hop on an album, but they often don’t carry over well on stage because they are simply not performance tracks. All of Pusha’s music holds a narrative and story within them over beats with depth, which is what makes his music well received but as his set carried out, it’s clear that not all of his music carried over well on stage. There’s a difference between watching a performance and being rapped at. His performance consisted of both, and thankfully at the times it appeared that he was merely spitting his lyrics at the crowd he would verbally interact with the fans afterwards.
He told the crowd about having planned to go to Hawaii for one week during the production of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and how that one week ended up turning into a month and his signing to G.O.O.D Music. The sharing of this story introduced a mini set of his Kanye and G.O.O.D Music collaborations such as “Runaway”, “So Appaled”, “Mercy”, and “New God Flow” , which showed that he has had some of the best guest verses in the past couple of years.
“Let’s be very clear,” he said, “G.O.O.D Music makes the best records in hip-hop.” A bold claim to make, but he composed his set with a memorable and admirable vocal performance that it gave him the platform to do so.