Tory Lanez

Danforth Music Hall, Toronto ON, February 14

Tory LanezDanforth Music Hall, Toronto ON, February 14
Photo: Kevin Jones
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Many a rapper threatens to "tear da club up." Some even make good on their promise, metaphorically. But seldom does one get the opportunity to watch a recording artist literally tear up the venue. Which is exactly how Tory Lanez' All-Star weekend show climaxed. Like, literally literally — in the true, old-fashioned sense of the word.
 
All abs, tattoos and aggression, the shirtless 23-year-old Torontonian surfed across his fans palms and climbed to the top of an unused stage-left balcony box at the Danforth Music Hall as the set neared the one-hour mark, where he was expecting to deliver his final message. The overhang — picture where Statler and Waldorf would be sitting had they attended Sunday's New Toronto showcase — probably hadn't been sat on for almost a century, if ever. Until, of course, Lanez perched way up there last night, cryptically telling his fans: "Don't forget one thing: It's always calculated." (Perhaps a reference to Drake's recent dis of Lanez's movement on "Summer Sixteen" and Lanez's non-response.)
 
Then, as if on cue, in a completely uncalculated (and probably expensive) move, Lanez pushed off the box expecting to tumble safely into the outstretch hands of his fervent fan base, but also unexpectedly taking a large chunk of the box with him. Like a sledgehammer to drywall, chunks of dust and a raft of structure smashed to the floor. And… curtain.
 
Yes, a Tory Lanez homecoming show — last evidenced by his rafters-hanging performance at the Hoxton — is more about his Spider-Man agility than mic or crowd control. Sloppy, raw and visceral. Wet and broken. A fight broke out smack in the centre of the pit on Valentine's night, mid-set, and that was probably the third-most Snapchat-worthy moment.
 
The night started with an hour-long EDM and trap spin session from DJ/producer Ryan Hemsworth gave way to the headliner's entrance at 10 p.m. Backed only by a laptop DJ and a cameo by vocalist/friend Nyce for "Traphouse," Lanez reminded attendees that on a weekend in which cover charges were jacked to NBA heights, his was a free show. Before the black "NEW TORONTO" tee and gold chain came off, Lanez flexed his for-the-ladies side, crooning "the classics!" (Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison" and Ginuwine's "Pony") and knocking out his biggest hit "Say It" early on.
 
The mixtape favourite then set to work pumping up the crowd, acting as his own hypeman ("Don't ever forget who the godfather of this shit is!" he hollered at one point; his debut LP is supposed to come out later this year) and spending the second half of the show false-starting songs and crawling across the limbs of his supporters, sweaty and bare-chested. The backing tracks carried most tunes as Lanez seemed more concerned with creating a party vibe and using the Danforth as his own personal jungle gym.
 
Before ending the evening by ripping the aforementioned piece of the building to the ground, Lanez crowd-surfed the distance from the stage to the back of the Hall and scrambled up to the top balcony with helping hands. It looked dangerous and original. On top of his world, the rapper launched into "Diego," his hooky Mafioso-styled anthem, for a second time.
 
Young, rich, half-naked and bubbling with pride, he surveyed the venue from up high and boasted, "I'm the new Tony Montana!"

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