Published Jul 16, 2012Modestly stepping out before hundreds of screeching, mostly female fans, the Weeknd helped close off the Ottawa Bluesfest's 12th and final day with a watertight 50-minute set.
Just over a year since the release of his debut mixtape, House of Balloons, Abel Tesfaye hit the co-headliner stage already a veteran festival performer, having gained rave reviews from performances at Coachella, Wireless and Primavera Sound. Accompanied by a small three-piece band, Tesfaye delivered a live show that resembled an R&B adaptation of '90s grunge. Looking blissful but staid behind his mic stand, the Weeknd demonstrated his live vocal competency, coming off just as animate on bangers like "House of Balloon/Glass Table Girls" as he did on late-night groover "Next."
Focusing chiefly on his pitch-perfect melodies and heady phrasings, a simple "thank you" or wave to the crowd proved enough to send the pulsating mass into a deafening roar. There seems to be a meekness to the Weeknd's live show that only gives his already-hefty catalogue an added dimension. Drake's tweets may have helped bring the masses, but it is Tesfaye's magnetism that'll keep them coming back.