“Summer 16” by Drake Impresses Houston Following

Alexander Landowski ’19

Recently, I was one of 28,000 people in attendance at the Toyota Center to witness the Houston stop on the Drake and Future “Summer 16” tour. As Drake is my all-time favorite performer, this first live concert I attended was an event that I had anticipated with great excitement.

The night began at 7:30 PM with two rising stars signed to Drake’s record label, OVO Sound.  Roy Woods, a 20 year old Canadian rapper and singer, was the opening act for the show. His impressive singing voice was enhanced by the intense tone in his delivery, although he played to about a half capacity crowd that was only marginally enthusiastic. Following Roy Woods on stage was dvsn, a Canadian R&B act led by frontman, Daniel Daley, who challenges himself with his upper vocal range.  With the size of the audience beginning to build, so was their enthusiasm as dvsn brought real intensity to the back up performances.

After a twenty minute intermission on the stage appeared DJ Future the Prince.  As he spun one hip-hop hit after another, the excitement of the crowd was becoming evident.  As we sat patiently after DJ left the stage, for what seemed like more than a half hour, the dark stage became partially lit as the instrumental introduction to Drake’s hit song “Summer 16” began to permeate the arena.  When the curtain was drawn it revealed a large illuminated rectangular box with Drake standing on it wearing a navy J.J. Watt Texans jersey. On the first of his two concerts in Houston, he appeared in a UH Greg Ward, Jr. jersey. The crowd instantly rose to their feet and went berserk, as they joined in the singing, all the while dancing to the pulsating beat.  When he sang “Started from the Bottom” early in his setlist, it became apparent that this would be a special night.  For the ninth song of the performance, Houston rapper, Bun B, came out to rap with Drake, and then performed a solo tune to an appreciative crowd.  Shortly thereafter, dvsn came back to perform hit song “Faithful” with Drake from his new album, “Views”. After playing nearly 20 of his tunes from 2008 to 2016 to a frenetic crowd, Drake was joined on stage by Future for the song “Grammys,” after which Drake left the stage while Future performed a number of his popular songs.  When Drake returned to the stage wearing a black jacket, covering a black OVO tank top, he and Future performed several songs together, including mega-hit “Jumpman.”  When Future left the stage for the night, Drake stayed on and played his final nine songs.  As a final surprise before the end of the night, Drake’s mentor and rapper in his own right, L’il Wayne showed up on the stage to perform a song that he cut with Drake in 2012, “HYFR,” and then stayed on stage to play a couple of his own tunes. The crowd that had stood when “Summer 16” began was still standing when Drake finished the concert with the crowd favorite hit, “Legend.” I was impressed with the lighting and special effects coming from the elevated stage that is clearly a highly produced and practiced maneuver on worldwide music concerts.

To say my first concert experience was anything less than sensational would be an understatement. Drake showed great professionalism and demonstrated why he is the successful pop icon that he has become. He was very complimentary of Houston and the adoring crowd that was cheering him on. In all, for my friend and me, it was one incredible evening!