The live collaboration was just one of several highlights on a warm, late summer's eve at Echo Beach. With a full moon overhead, the skies cleared after a rainy afternoon, and the CN Tower blinking in the backdrop, it was official: No, it wasn't too close to autumn for an outdoor concert to work.
After local singer on the rise Daniel Caesar warmed up a full Saturday night (September 17) turnout, Kaytranada ratcheted up the BPMs by DJing selections from his critically adored debut studio LP, remixes and house-y party jams. The venue's wet sand and crunchy pavement served as a dance floor, and three giant exercise ball/beach ball/jellyfish hybrids were volleyed around the crowd. At one point, the 24-year-old electronic composer doffed his headphones and scrambled down from his post behind the turntables and beat machinery to smack a globe himself.
Images of splashing bikini girls flickered on the stage-wide screen behind Kaytranada, who saved his killer reworking of Janet Jackson's "If" for a finale, leaving the dais to the eager .Paak.
It's incredible to think that Anderson .Paak has performed in Toronto three times and at Echo Beach twice in the last three-and-a-half months, but could still bring the kind of enthusiasm that usually accompanies a long wait.
Introduced by the opening strings of Isaac Hayes' "Walk on By," .Paak opened with the rousing "Come Down" but never did.
"Sure feels good to be back in the Six!" he hollered. And then he complimented the crowd on its cultural makeup: "I see hella black people, white, Latino and some shit I've never seen before."
Leaning heavily on selections from his breakthrough LP, January's Malibu — which should pop up on many a "Best of 2016" list — .Paak and the four-piece Free Nationals have been touring so relentlessly this year that their execution is nearly flawless. It makes it difficult to pick a favourite from "The Bird," "Heart Don't Stand a Chance," or "Room in Here," but when .Paak slipped behind the drum kit for "The Season / Carry Me," it was downright epic.
The singer-rapper-producer-drummer made a point of shouting out Kaytranada before performing the joint the Canadian created, "Lite Weight," and fellow Oxnard native Madlib, who orchestrated "The Waters." He splashed water on the loyal front row to the thump of new friend ScHoolboy Q's "THat Part," and treated us to a frenzied unnamed, unreleased track that proved his star will only soar higher.
"I've been all over the fucking world this year," .Paak bellowed, but he was whatever the opposite of jetlagged is. (Jet-jacked, perhaps?) At 30 years old, .Paak has been putting out music for four years, mostly quietly. Now that he's caught fire, it seems like there's no slowing him down.