It was a packed house sweatbox at the Alexander Gastown on Monday night when Toronto rapper Tory Lanez rolled through as part of his SwaveNation Tour.
The 23-year-old is known for his wild shows. YouTube videos of his performances are filled with Lanez crowdsurfing and “crowdwalking” – supported by his fans who hold up his legs as he walks through the surface of the crowds. It was no wonder his show had fans frantically searching for last minute tickets.
With a dedicated fanbase known globally as SWAVENATION, it might be surprising that his name is still unknown in many circuits. But that may be because his debut album hasn’t even been released yet, and is expected to drop in 2016. So far, Lanez has released three mixtapes, including his latest “Cruel Intentions,” a collaboration with Shlohmo’s label, WeDidIt Records. And this Vancouver crowd had clearly listened to those mixtapes, over and over.
Not only did they know the lyrics, as Lanez hit the small stage, the crowd on the main floor of the Alexander was virtually a barricade of bodies attached to one another. The crowd’s movements from the start to the end of the show was basically of one body, jumping on queue with each beat. Just after he began, with a sample of his single “Priceless,” a fire alarm could be heard from the venue – not that anyone seemed to notice. Especially since he busted into “In For It,” one of his tracks recorded with RL Grime.
Between tracks, Lanez often took the time to talk to the ultra sweaty sold-out crowd. He took his plain white t-shirt off, giving fans a close look at his own sweaty body, before deciding to give us all a much closer look. Lanez gave us the show we had hoped for and had only seen on videos, as he began to climb the three floors of the venue by hanging on to railings and fans pulling him up along the way. Continuing to sing while holding his mic, he ran through the crowd on the third floor, down the stairs to the second, before basically jumping into the main floor crowd. Phones were out the entire show, photographing and recording, because you never really knew what he was going to do next.
But besides all the jumping, sweat, dancing, and climbing, Lanez is an artist. And from sampling ’90s tracks like Ginuwine’s “Pony,” singing without music at times, to a sample of Kanye West’s “Slow Jamz,” Lanez put on more than a rap show. His energy was contagious, and Vancouver’s own SWAVENATION could not get enough – myself included. As he got into “Initiation,” it was clear this Monday night mayhem show was coming to an end. And without any disappointment, Lanez closed with his biggest track to date, “Diego,” while crowdsurfing, “crowdwalking,” and general crowd-loving charisma.
Fans were captivated. We all danced willingly through that wild sweatbox of a show. Lanez was electric, whether hanging off a railing or grooving on the stage, we could not look away. And while he won’t be back again this year, look out for Tory Lanez’s album release next year, along with another headlining tour and a lot more sweat.