The Weeknd, Banks, Anna Lunoe | Chicago Theatre | Hip-Hop, Fall Arts | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Sun., Oct. 13, 6:30 p.m. and Mon., Oct. 14, 6:30 p.m. 2013
Price: $45-$50
It seems like nobody feels as bad for Abel Tesfaye as Abel Tesfaye does; as the main man behind moody Canadian R&B project the Weeknd, he’s written lots of personal-sounding lyrics awash in narcissistic self-pity and stories of empty drugging and fucking a la Bret Easton Ellis. He paired his words with sleek, sumptuous tracks, though, and that formula worked like a charm on the three free mixtapes he dropped in 2011, which Republic repackaged last year as Trilogy. By comparison the Weeknd’s proper debut full-length, the recent Kiss Land (Republic/XO), sounds a little static and samey—the formula is starting to feel like a formula, at least to me. The album’s twilight post-Drake R&B is just as slinky and smooth—“Adaptation” and “Pretty” are downright opulent—but Tesfaye sometimes seems like he’s as numb and zoned-out as the people in his songs. Fortunately he can still pull off the occasional focused hook by brilliantly deploying a guest vocalist or drum sample, so that Kiss Land has some seriously compelling high points: the aforementioned “Adaptation,” the Drake collaboration “Live For,” and the tense “Belong to the World,” whose snapping, ferocious drum loop could’ve come from Portishead’s “Machine Gun.” The low points are maybe more frequent than I’d like, but Tesfaye’s buttery, soothing singing is enough to get me through those. —Leor Galil Banks and Anna Lunoe open. 10/13 show is sold out.

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