Tuesday, night Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals treated his Philly fans to a magnificent show at The Met, just months after their rousing show at The Fillmore. This latest show is part of .Paak’s “Best Teef In The Game Tour” which is in support of his new album, Ventura, released just five months after last year’s Oxnard. With a set that stretched five albums, .Paak demonstrated yet again, that he is one of the best out there.
The night’s first slot was filled by bass virtuoso, Thundercat. Bathed in red light, Thundercat and his “big ass bass” ripped through tracks from Apocalypse and Drunk. Each song grew into a massive web of hypnotic funk. The whole set functioned as a futuristic epic, which Thundercat at its helm.
Shortly after Thundercat closed his set with “Them Changes”, which he dedicated to the late Mac Miller, Earl Sweatshirt and his pensive raps took the stage. Sweatshirt walked on and promised to “rock with y’all for 25 minutes”, and he delivered. Despite the introspective and depressive nature of his work, Sweatshirt bounced across the stage and seemed to truly enjoy performing. Behind him and his DJ was a looping video, whose scratchy and scattered style mirrored the collage aesthetic of Sweatshirt’s latest album Some Rap Songs. If not for the screens behind him and Thundercat, their sets might have been mistaken for a much more low key show. Such a show would have been too casual for the polished Met.
.Paak’s own set was much more on par with the glamor of the venue. On top of the stage was a giant box made of screens, flanked by staircases. Everything but the floor of the stage doubled as a screen, making the show bright and effective in dictating the atmosphere. The screens showed everything from live footage from the stage, cute animations, and solid colors. At one point, the lyric video for “King James” played, which was much appreciated by fans who didn’t have time to memorize the lyrics. Mesmerizing lasers shot out during “Glowed Up” and pyrotechnics were employed constantly. Guiding all of this was .Paak, who shot up from the glowing box playing the drums for “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance”.
With glistening “teef” and a tireless voice, .Paak powered through his discography. Aside from having to restart “Trippy”, .Paak and the Free National’s performance never seemed to be anything short of effortless. From the jubilance of “Jet Black” to the sexiness of the Free National’s “Beauty & Essex”, everything done on stage bested .Paak’s already outstanding recordings. The always impressive “Bubblin” was made even better by .Paak’s ferocious drumming, and the crowd danced and cheered the entire night.
At one point .Paak was unable to introduce “Suede” because the applause and cheering was too rabid. During “Reachin’ 2 Much”, a highlight on Ventura and in the show, .Paak walked into the crowd and danced with them. Every move he made and song he sang made the crowd dizzy with adoration.
Throughout the show, the Free Nationals made a case for themselves as an essential part of the .Paak package. From swoon-worthy trumpets to live vocoders and shimmering background vocals, they brought every song to life. The combination of the stage’s boldness, .Paak’s exuberant performance, and the Free Nationals’s excellent playing made each song sound like a capital “M” Moment. How do you then end a show in which every song feels like the grand finale? With a touching tribute to Mac Miller and tasteful sparklers. .Paak’s dedication of “Dang” to Miller and his earlier shout out to Nipsey Hussle served to ground the otherwise exuberant set in today’s harsh reality.
Despite the missed opportunity to scream the Philly line in “Who R U”, .Paak and co. delighted even the most casual of fans. Like always, he proved that he is the only one who can do what he does, and he’s damn good at it.
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