Future Sound Academy, Toronto ON, July 11

Future Sound Academy, Toronto ON, July 11
Photo: Kevin Jones
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Nayvadius Cash tells the gathered congregation that tonight is the best night of his life, but through the matrix of lights and Auto-Tune, you have a sneaking suspicion he's not being completely honest.

Which is not to say the walking club anthem known as Future doesn't go hard for 50-some-odd minutes at Sound Academy, pleasing the Friday night crowd as he jostles back and forth from warbled crooning to spitting 16s. (For a man with just two proper LPs, he has more instantly recognizable hits than some artists that have been around thrice that long.)

But it's show number 44 of a 45-date tour in support of the knocking Honest, and you sense that Cash is content just to sprint toward the finish line. He peppers his string of songs with pandemic shout-outs to "Canada" and at one point calls Toronto the loudest crowd on tour. But you bet he says that to all the girls.

Sound Academy is not exactly sold out; the rear bar area is curtained off, and concertgoers can navigate the venue without fear of splashing a drink. But those in attendance are already in Future's palm when he rushes the stage to "Chosen One" a few ticks before midnight.

His blond-tinged braids knotted in a ponytail, Future is decked out in an unzipped black leather jacket. Sparkling dog tags ping-pong off his white tank top as he bounds, Tigger-like, from stage left to stage right. Every song is turnt up, and the jacket soon comes off. "Tony Montana," "Bugatti," "Racks," "Karate Chop," "Magic," "Honest," "U.O.E.N.O.," "Covered N Money," "Love Me"... dude can write a hit.

Although the 30-year-old ATLien is much more comfortable owning the stage than, say, opener Rico Love (a Milwaukee R&B songwriter making the leap to artist), maybe you expect a little more originality from a guy who cribbed notes in the Dungeon from OutKast and cousin Rico Wade. He shares a baby boy with Ciara. He opened up for Drake during last fall's "Would You Like a Tour?" tour. Surely he could've been inspired to dream up something fresh for his live presentation.

Backed only by a DJ, Future's set is devoid of video accompaniment or surprise guests or creative curve balls. He plays the keys, but not tonight. Instead, the thing all feels efficient and safe, the bangers stacking upon each other like one too many pancakes.

Thus, "Turn On the Lights" stands out lovely mid-set for its tempo switch and its length; a rare Future smash that doesn't lean on featured artists, he has time to own it.

Quibbles aside, we are in a club. And the beats reign supreme in this arena. So when Cash stashes the best for last, pummelling his loudest crowd with a triple smack of "Same Damn Time," "Move That Dope," and "Sh!t," hands raise up like look, ma. The floor trembles. The speakers quake.

There is no encore, and no one demands one. The swift, shrill climax is satisfying enough for both parties, if we're being honest.