Though Canada and the US share borders and time zones alike, music fans in the states often find themselves amazed at how our neighbors to the north seem to have a lock on the re-branding of our '90s R&B. Starting with Drake more than five years ago, who introduced us to The Weeknd almost three years back, Toronto and the OVO sound have captured our ears and often put us in sultry moods that elicit intimate times with those we love and those we make love to. Its a relationship similar to the Seattle-Grunge connection responsible for an entire culture. PartyNextDoor (born Jahron Anthony Brathwaite) is the next crooner under the guise of the Young Money baron to slow things down and take us back to the time of Aaliyah, Jodeci, and early Usher.
Starting just after 9 p.m., PND's set was an event that started much earlier than any in the crowd was likely used to. Still, the large crowd was strong from the moment the 21 year-old stepped on stage. From the silence that preceded the Canuck's emergence and every single lull in between, shrieks rang through the venue from all sides, including the balcony which was more packed than usual. The screaming ceased when Party's punchy vocals were blaring in the venue and everyone began singing along–even a wannabe cholo we spied in a blue pendleton shirt with a black bandana tied around his slicked back hair.
Energy levels in the Observatory elevated at certain intervals in the show. From the popular “Over Here”, and steadily rising as he got to “Options” and “SLS.” The screaming and singing along escalated throughout his hour-long show.
“You guys are live as fuck”, Party utters in a voice much more chill than his singing tone. Which, of course, causes acknowledged the crowd to turn up a little more.
The pairing of Party's strong vocals with the chillwave, sensual and minimal beats could be what has started him on this climb to the top of the very experimental R&B sect that's emerging. The erotic nature of the mellow, candlelit vibes is present throughout the show. A graphic screen onstage changes from soothing, underwater shots of a palm trees that match his low tempo beats when the water ripples to bokeh-esque motion that gives the venue a dim room feel. And while setting the mood with his beats, his graphics, and his warm lighting, a fog machine dissipates smoke at a pace as slow his music and his waving hand gestures.
And with an on fleek ambience, the lyrics of Party's music became a little more persuasive. “All I ever asked for was patience/ Patience and pussy but mostly patience,” drawing smiles for all in the audience excited to sing along to the naughty, coy lyrics. When the Missy Elliot-sampled “Thirsty”, off his summer project PARTY NEXT DOOR TWO, the crowd experienced yet another energy boost. At this point Party is as into the show as anyone else, looking off into the distance and singing to himself on the empty stage.
At the end of the set, Party threw his snapback into the crowd leaving our entertainment in the hands popular LA DJ, Ever, for about 15 minutes. Shortly after the crowd grew tired singing along to rap hits like “CoCo” and “No Type”, the music dies and chant ensues. “Party! Party!..”
Of course PND reemerged in a black beanie, a matching trenchcoat wearing the original Nubuck Timberlands to say only, “this is PND live”, before going into the synthy, bass-heavy hit “Recognize” to which the crowd erupted one more time before the night was over.
I listen to music. I write about it. I like hot sauce on my chicken.