Just days after the celebratory bottle of champagne was smashed across its bow, Edmonton’s new $615 mn Rogers Place hosted back-to-back sold-out shows for Toronto’s favourite mensch : Aubrey “Drake” Graham.
Signed to Lil’ Wayne’s Young Money Records label in 2009, Drake is today the hottest-selling pop-rapper since Jay-Zi and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to check him out in concert, especially at the City’s spangly, aluminum- and glass-clad new downtown arena.ii
The concert itself was somewhat unremarkable. Drake’s unknown-to-me openers were merely adequate, but his constant reminders that “Edmonton is my last Canadian stop on this tour” with the flag literally draped over his shoulders like some kind of track-and-field superstar, and his regurgitated platitudes about this being “the best energy I’ve ever felt from a crowd” felt like the pallid and empty sophistries they were. Not to mention that his over-the-top nod-and-wink to the Edmonton Oilers’ Wayne Gretzky by coming on stage in the classic purple and orange “99” jersey was just plain shameless beggaring – as was his insertion of the word “Edmonton” into more than half of his songs, as if remembering where on God’s Green Earth you happened to be at any given moment was at all noteworthy, much less praiseworthy. But I hear too much weed fucks with your memory so who knows.
Being more familiar with Drake’s music when he was still a rising star around the end of the last decade, I was unable to play “sing-along” or the oft-employed “fill in the lyric” as was the overwhelming majority of the rest of the crowd. If anything stood out from our steeply-sloped second deck seatsiii it’s that the acoustics were pretty mediocre, that the second deck was appreciably higher that it was in the old Coliseum because there was previously just a single row of private boxes in between the decks and now there are two, that hot young girls loooove the jew-black combo served up by Drake, and that co-headliner “Future” was in fact the star performer of the two.
Anyways, it was a pop concert. Much like the others.
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- Drake is also severly overplayed as background music. His croonier R&B hits are frequently heard in… grocery stores. Betcha any amount you want that Young Jeezy can’t say the same. And no, Korean corner stores in Compton don’t count as “grocery stores.”↩
- The old arena – The Coliseum – is about 6 km north of town centre though this distance has always been readily and efficiently bridged by the Light Rail Transit (LRT) system. The new Rogers Place also has an LRT stop on the City’s new “Capital Line” but this ENTIRELY SURFACE LINE is such a motherfuckingcuntlickingbitchslapping morass of slowness, unreliability, and “no one could’ve predicted” problems that it’s many orders of magnitude less effective than its predecessor’s parallel, which was designed and built in the halcyon 1970’s.
Who knew that being too motherfucking poor to design and pay for either skytrains à la Vancouver or underground rails à la Every Fucking Actual City would have so many unforeseen consequences ? Yes, a skytrain is 2-3x as much and underground is 3-5x as much, but surface tracks and trains that don’t flow with traffic because they’re not street cars and instead clog up the necessarily car-dominant city like Dick Cheney’s unhackable heart are an affront to civility, humanity, and most importantly, drivers for whom the ridiculously limited LRT routes are grossly impractical.
Anyways, under construction, the new Arena looked like so from above :
From which vantage point it’s clear to see that the place looks shockingly like the Hebrew letter Yud – which, given that the building’s de facto owner as well as the owner of the Edmonton Oilers is Daryl Katz – a member of The Tribe – this should come as no surprise.
The Yud in cross-section :