The Weeknd Delivers Sexually Charged 'Kiss Land' Show
Being the first of a two-night stand (Sept. 16-17) from mysterious alt-R&B Lothario, the Weeknd, such disclaimers would seem like a moot point. The artist born Abel Tesfaye has built his shadowy persona with a murky morass of sexual songs that celebrate excess, weaving a sonic world of wanton desires, drug-fueled orgies, and always fighting the inevitable pain and shame of the serotonin-depleted comedown.
For the uninitiated, the Weeknd's rise from mixtape sensation to headlining a pair of well-attended shows at an outdoor amphitheater with a capacity of 5,700 bodies can seem a little sudden for an artist promoting his first official studio album, the recently released Kiss Land.
His throngs of adoring fans, however, were built back in 2011, when the Weeknd released a series of three mixtapes that played more like fully-formed albums: House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence (later collected as the triple-album release, Trilogy). With his atmospheric sound, seductive falsetto and stark eroticism, Tesfaye established himself as the figurehead of a cult-like following sprung on his lascivious tales of the never-ending after-party.
On this fall tour to support Kiss Land, the Weeknd has gone all out to create an immersive experience reflective of the album's Japanese street aesthetic with lots of neon and rapid-fire videos and lighting effects. The set featured a well-paced balance of songs from his entire catalog, ably blending the new songs in with fan favorites from the Trilogy era.
The show started with Tesfaye performing new song "Adaptation" behind a giant, gauzy curtain to shrieking screams mostly from his female fans, his artfully-styled dreadlocks cutting a striking silhouette. Some of the older songs received updated arrangements, like a stripped-down version of "What You Need," with the full live band giving the tunes even more muscle.
The "mature content" kicked into high gear during the performance of the title track from Kiss Land, featuring graphic scenes of lesbian porn projected behind the band as Tesfaye delivered the equally pornographic lyrics.
From the assaultive beat of "Belong to the World" to the '80s dance thump of "Wanderlust," The Weeknd's new songs added new dynamics to the live show, making the most of the grand scale of the fall tour. more.
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