Based on the reception of the sold out Sound Academy crowd on Tuesday night, Future may as well be an honourary Canadian at this point.
The Atlanta rapper’s had a hell of a 2015 – moving from sought after feature artist to a rapper with his own name to stand behind… Sort of (and we’ll get to that.)
The year brought on the release of two number one albums: July’s critically acclaimed DS2 and What A Time To Be Alive, his collaborative mixtape with Toronto certified rap juggernaut Drake.
Of course, everyone at the Sound Academy fully expected Drizzy to come sauntering on stage at some point during Future’s set. After opening up Drake’s Air Canada Centre date, showing up at this year’s OVO Fest, and with the pair playing a massive Ryerson frosh party, it kind of seemed like the two had become inseparable at the hip. Unfortunately – or perhaps in a pointed effort to prove he’s more than a sidekick – the fourth time wasn’t a charm this time around and there was nary an Aubrey sighting to be had. For the record: I’m starting to think he’s avoiding me.
Instead, the night was all Future. With the venue’s doors opening at 9:30 pm, the crowd was about as hyped up as I’ve seen this year. Outside of a DJ, there wasn’t even an opener to entertain the masses until Future hit the stage about 15-minutes past his scheduled 11:30 pm start time. But still they partied and squished themselves onto the Sound Academy floor, anxious and excited for the night that lay ahead of them.
Once Future appeared, he made quick work of riling everyone up – running across the venue’s stage and urging the audience to follow the rap tropes and “turn up”. Beats and his deep delivery shook the walls, the audience holding phones aloft while matching his delivery word-for-word.
While it took four songs before Future’s DJ to officially declare the show started, it seemed he was there out of the gate to bring up the energy and play to his crowd – encouraging participation on DS2’s “Thought It Was A Drought” while simultaneously delivering a level of ferocity most rappers aim for but never achieve.
But back to Drake and his absence, which was something that was very much felt on the select collaborations that dotted Future’s set. A reference to the mixtape even had the crowd perk up, while DS2’s huge single “Where Ya At” (featuring our hometown hero) saw absolutely everyone giving their best impression.
The lack of Drake was most notable during What A Time To Be Alive’s bass-shaking “Big Rings”, which benefitted from Drake’s vocals booming out from the speakers as Future ran back and forth by the front row, waiting rather awkwardly for his part to come in. It’s a massive song and obviously needs to be in the setlist – but it definitely left the crowd with the thought of what could have been, rather than what actually was.
And perhaps that’ll be the greatest issue Future will face going into the, well, future. He’s obviously talented and a commanding stage presence. It’s also been a career move that’s evidently earned him massive favour with the “we the north” audience. But, with Future associated with an act that’s done so much for Toronto (sorry – “The 6”), the crowd here will forever expect more than just his standard show. It’s a shame, given Future’s typical concert is actually pretty strong and would totally satiate the normal rap appetite, sans-pesky expectations. If that’s not a spoiled Toronto problem, I’m not sure what is.