At an exclusive M for Montreal showcase for gold passholders, the crowd's lack of engagement had already put a damper on Lou Phelps' set earlier in the night, but veteran Cadence Weapon wasn't going to let that stop him. The tracksuit-clad performer (and Edmonton Poet Laureate) jumped into the crowd, took a shot onstage and ultimately dazzled with his frenetic lyricism.
Tracks like "High Rise," off his upcoming self-titled LP, and "Connor McDavid," a tribute to another hometown hero, showcased his affability and sense of humour; the former, produced by Jacques Greene (who was in the audience) displayed Pemberton's trademark balance between hot-button issues (in this case, gentrification) and an ego-defying daringness to perform and express without being self-conscious. Howling "move into a high rise!" with distorted, filtered vocals didn't undermine the serious subject matter so much as emphasize the absurd inevitability of it all.
His upcoming self-titled album, due next January, marks his first since 2012. Much has changed since then, with the rapper having moved to Montreal and then Toronto in the years since. Previewing plenty of new cuts, including singles "My Crew (Wooo)" and "Large," it's clear that the new LP isn't so much of a rebirth as a reintroduction. Much has changed, and Cadence Weapon showed in spades that he's more than willing to change with it.