Concert Review: OVO Fest at the Molson Amphitheatre


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Good luck topping that, OVO Fest. A capacity crowd of nearly 17,000 was on hand at the Molson Amphitheatre last night for Drake’s annual music festival, which turned out to be heaven on Earth for local hip hop fans.

Drake (whose birthday is in October, and who has become synonymous with his “October’s Very Own” tag) effortlessly filled three hours of stage time, thanks to a small army of guests in what was probably the most star-studded OVO yet.

Joining the hometown hero on stage at various points throughout the night were P. Diddy and Mase, Lil Wayne, J. Cole, Miguel, fellow local star The Weeknd, A$AP Rocky, Kanye West and, perhaps most surprisingly, surviving TLC members Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas and Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins.

Fans have come to expect odd mystery guests appearing at OVO, but this year’s crop was a step above prior years. Previous acts have included Snoop Dogg and Nicki Minaj (2012), Stevie Wonder and Nas (2011) and even the inaugural shocker of Jay-Z and Eminem (2010).

Whether this was a deliberate make-good attempt after the first day of what was scheduled to be a two-day event was cancelled, or whether it was simply an accumulation of guests who were scheduled to be spread over two days, there was something unmistakably special about the show.

The result was a night filled with iconic “wow” moments. TLC provided a nostalgic flashback, kicking into renditions of “Waterfalls” and “No Scrubs” that sounded as if they were pulled right out of 1996 — save for the absence of late Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes’ vocals.

The throwback element was kicked up a notch when Diddy and Mase took to the stage for fun, engaging takes on “Feel So Good” and “Mo Money Mo Problems.” The night’s biggest ovation, however, was saved for West, who demonstrated a surprising willingness to embrace a supporting role as he belted out “All of the Lights.”

But the evening belonged to Drake. Seeing his visible pride and giddy excitement made it clear that he was living out some of the dreams that he had as a kid growing up in Forest Hill. Showing no shortage of musical chops in his own right, the rapper flew solo while cranking out hits like “Successful” and “Best I Ever Had.” The vast majority of the crowd stuck around for his show-closing rendition of “Started From the Bottom,” demonstrating that they weren’t on hand simply for who else was there.

Before the next edition of Drake’s annual gift to his city takes place, he will be back in town for an ACC date that just so happens to fall on his birthday (Oct. 24). Time will tell what he has up his sleeve for that one.

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