This past Sunday at Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre, Anderson .Paak proved once again why all the praise and adulation he’s received in 2016 is entirely deserved. Delivering a near-perfect show to a sold out crowd, .Paak was the father, son, and holy spirit to the mélange of millenials that packed the house.
Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals laid the framework for the show early on, opening with an aggressive rendition of “Come Down”. The entire night focused on high energy, rock-inspired adaptations of the 2016 release Malibu with plenty of drums solos to satisfy the eager crowd.
Arguably the most distinct aspect to .Paak’s live show is his incredible prowess as a percussionist. Beyond his abilities as a lyricist and vocalist, there is not a tremendous amount to differentiate him for any other soulful-yet-cheeky artist. Putting him behind a drum set and allowing him to not only flex his skills but also lead the musical arrangements begins to explain the depth of his talent.
Proof of this effect is felt every time he steps away from kit and even more so when he falls back into a pre-Malibu persona. Moving into the quarter mark of the show, Anderson .Paak played “Drugs” off of his 2014 release Venice. It is a generic trap-inspired song filled with the low-hanging fruit of the rap world: insipid clichés, auto-tune, and shitty ad-libs. It almost seems satirical when compared to his more recent work and the cynical part of me wonders if the Anderson .Paak we know of 2016 is merely pulling the wool over our eyes.
Even if this reviewer may be a pretentious music pedant, this sentiment was palpable within the audience during “Drugs” and no amount of strobe lighting could alter that. Despite the slight misstep no significant damage was done. Perhaps from a more knowledgeable perspective it is better to appease the fans who were looking to see the .Paak of yesteryear than it is to snub them.
Anderson .Paak’s unabated stage presence was inspiring enough to lead the entire theatre, including the upper deck, out of their seats for the entire duration of the concert. “Put Me Thru”, “Room In Here”, and many others were all executed to perfection.
High point of the evening would have to be “Glowed Up”, a track off of Kaytranada’s 99.9%. With its muddy bass line and spacey instrumentals, it is not conventionally dance-y but seemed to get the room moving. It was nice to see him throw this into his set list after skipping it during his Pemberton performance just over a month ago. The only thing to make the night better would have been giving the crowd a taste of his contribution to Mac Miller’s “Dang!” which may be the song that puts .Paak on the tip of pop music’s tongue.
For those that managed to see .Paak earlier on the Malibu tour, there may not have been many surprises on Sunday evening but never did that detract from the entertainment. As an artist and performer, .Paak is in a position to do no wrong at present time. It’s with anxious anticipation that we wait for his next release and a new tour to catch the wave he rides in on.