Drake and Future kicked off at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin with one consistent theme: too many hits, not enough time. Following an opening set by Future, accompanying him onstage as he ran through his own hits, Drake lit up the night with a fast succession of crowd favorites.
At 10:01 p.m., about 30 minutes after he was supposed to perform, the audience started a loud-but-brief “We Want Drake” chant. Drake very fast set the mood for the show, sweet talking the Austin crowd (with lots of shout outs to the “ladies”), checking the time through the entire concert and assuring to stick to the point: the music.
With his ambitious setlist — he played parts of more than 50 tunes — there wasn’t actually much time for talk. After performing “U With Me” “Feel No Ways”, “9”, Drake paused to joke with the crowd. “I only had to take some time to see who had the Views album,” he said. “I merely had to know.”
The first set alone included “Blessings”, “Worst Behavior”, “6 God” and “I’m On One.” Throughout the night, the dynamic stage lit up with fireworks, fires and loud booms while the big curved screen at the back gave the show aerial views of storms, an view with sequences of galaxies, and underwater shots. The set onstage also changed through the night, as stages with screen displays on the front, rose and fell, occasionally lifting Drake up to punctuate rap or at one point giving the stage the look of a jail as Drake rapped among raised platforms displaying what looked like prison bars.
If you in love tonight, make some sound ‘cause this next one’s for you, Drake declared before “Child’s Play”, a tune which will be a subtle shout out to Texas. The rapper was spotted in Houston filming the video for “Child’s Play” at VLive, a strip club. While in town, he was also seen at Cheesecake Factory.
Drake sang his own verse of the tune and wrapped up the first act of the show with “Faithful,” descending as DVSN was underneath the stage — the show’s opening act. During the brief interlude — no more than three minutes, actually — Dennis Graham, Drake’s dad, walked around ground level seats, stopping for the occasional picture or Snapchat video and shaking hands with audience members as he passed by.
The already visually striking set was even more impressive during the second half of the show. Drake rose up from underneath the stage as the music for “Hotline Bling”. He performed the tune through a heady mixture of fog that was light and the pink light up balloons undulating up and down from the ceiling at random, occasionally pulling out some of his famed dance moves from the song’s music video.
After an hour onstage solo, Drake ultimately performed “Grammys”, efficiently bringing Future back onto the stage for a fast but dynamic run-through of hits from their joint record, What a Time to Be Alive. Onstage, the rappers’ chemistry was not difficult to see as they performed “I’m the Plug”, “Big Rings”, “Jumpman” and “Diamond’s Dancing”. Drake took the time to shout Future out, explaining that “there’s only one man I could share this phase with”.
After about only 10 minutes onstage with Future, Drake’s next string of performances were clips of his tunes with Rihanna, who the latest gossips says he’s now officially dating — gossip Drake fed by saying “I wish I had her here” at the start of “Work”. He wrapped up that song with his more reggae and African-inspired songs, “Controlla” and “One Dance”, and then assessed the time. “We’re at about an hour 45 [minutes], should we go for it?” Talking to someone offstage, Drake requested, “You say it costs cash?” before continuing with the show, maintaining he’d “pay what it costs to be a boss”.
The next songs of the night were his most energetic of the show, as he flowed into “Back to Back”, his Grammy- diss track of rapper Meek Mill. Drake inquired, “Was that to tell me you want me to do more?” after “Know Yourself”, and the crowd cheering for half a minute in return he demanded the crowd “be the loudest I hear you tonight as he started ‘Energy’ ”.
The night ended on a somewhat somber, but caring note in typical Drake style. He stopped “Legend” with a repeat of the hook — “Oh my God, Oh my God/If I die, I’m a legend” — with keyboards and just the audience backing him, and then he had a message for the bunch.
Referencing “loony” things that had been occurring lately, Drake said, “Everyday you awaken is a blessing. You can make a change in your life or someone else’s.” With a guarantee to work on a fresh album and return to Austin, he concluded, “I go by the name of Drake, I come from the 6, but Austin, Texas, I love you more than you’ll ever understand”, before descending underneath the stage for the last time that night.