The Weeknd are one of those acts that grab you by the throat from the first second you hear them. That’s what it was like for me; the free mixtape trilogy of hazy, woozy r’n’b/electronics and shoutouts from Drake have seen them explode into the band du jour for discerning hipsters, but it was the opening, tinkling keys of ‘High For This,’ the opening track on ‘House of Balloons’ that first grabbed me, just a little while after they first released it online.
Since then, the shadowy Canadian project has released the stellar tapes ‘Thursday’ and ‘Echoes of Silence,’ shot to the top of the most-watched lists of critics worldwide, and no doubt sparked a frenzy of interest and offers from the big labels; but they’ve barely played live at all. Which makes this live set from Coachella just that bit more stunning.
Opening with ‘High For This,’ their dreamy and druggy sound takes on a much grander, more intense and epic vibe live. The amazing soulful voice of leader Abel Tesfaye skirts around, moving from an almost falsetto quality to a deep, powerful shout as the sound builds and builds towards the drop that you so desperately crave, but which never comes. That’s what is maybe the most remarkable aspect of The Weeknd; the restraint, the discipline they put forward through their music. The sound builds and builds and just as you’re sure that its about to crescendo, it drops back down to sparseness once more. For their tracks about sex, love and lust, it’s probably pretty apt that they’d tease you and pull out just as you’re sure the music is about to climax… but we’ll leave the imagery and metaphor there, so you can just watch what will be one of the more compelling and incredible live sets you’re likely to see this year.