J. Cole Pemberton Stage, Pemberton BC, July 15

J. Cole Pemberton Stage, Pemberton BC, July 15
Photo: Joshua Peter Grafstein
Day 2's headliner stomped onstage at sunset with a mission, spitting venom over the cold, sparse thump of "A Tale of 2 Cities" as the sun began to set. Then he got off his airtight "Back to the Topic (Freestyle)" as if to show his diehard Dreamvillians that he would not be afraid to show off his verbal chops or dive into deep cuts.
The radio fare would come, though. When the sun disappeared and the Friday night lights made the glacier glow, J. Cole unraveled the pop hits. Singles "Can't Get Enough," "Crooked Smile," "Work Out" and the impeccable "Power Trip" formed the set's climax (although, with Miguel performing his own set right before Cole, the singer's absence from "Power Trip" should be viewed as a cameo opportunity squandered).
More interesting was the middle of Cole's set, in which he splashed well-aged mixtape anthems ("Higher," "Blow Up") between 2014 Forest Hills Drive cuts ("G.O.M.D.," "Wet Dreamz"). A five-piece band and two talented female singers — all decked out in black — gave the 90-minute show a fuller sound.
A fan waved a large Canadian flag embroidered with "Cole World," while girls in bikinis (and a couple girls who used to be in bikinis) mounted shoulders to get a better view from above the happy masses. The dreadlocked star in sparkling white Adidas pulled up a stool for the song that first spawned this kind of devotion, "Lights Please." The tune is seven years old now, but still ranks among the producer/rapper's best written. That Cole's backup singers dropped in Erykah Badu's hook from the Roots' "You Got Me" freshened the underground classic. Yes, the Cole Show is now established enough that he can afford to remix his own work.