The Weeknd, Banks, Travis Scott | United Center | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

The Weeknd, Banks, Travis Scott All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Fri., Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m. 2015

“These kids, you know, they don’t have a Michael Jackson,” Abel Tesfaye (aka Toronto singer the Weeknd) told the New York Times in a profile leading up to the release of his second studio album, August’s Beauty Behind the Madness (Republic/XO). “They don’t have a Prince. They don’t have a Whitney. Who else is there?” Tesfaye is currently aiming for the top of the pops, and in putting himself out there he’s also obligated to include his face, his personality, and his past. That would’ve been unthinkable four years ago when the Weeknd debuted House of Balloons, a mixtape brimming with alternately alluring, droopy, and lusty R&B tracks. At that time Tesfaye was so well cloaked in anonymity that when his songs played at the American Apparel where he was employed his coworkers didn’t suspect a thing. The shreds of mystery Tesfaye held on to while gaining popularity were key to his beginnings as the Weeknd, but he seems to have embraced the limelight in his pursuit of superstardom. On the stuttering neosoul number “Tell All Your Friends” Tesfaye sings, “Used to hate attention, now I pull up in that wagon.” His music has changed too, and the wagon he rolls in with Beauty Behind the Madness ditches much of the mind-numbing haze that made 2013’s Kiss Land a slog—though he does keep the magnetism of his late-night, misty-eyed tales. Tesfaye delivers tracks like “The Hills,” “In the Night,” and “Can’t Feel My Face” with a vocal power punch that’s alternately depressing and euphoric, pulling off the complicated balance with the same ease MJ showed off moonwalking.

Leor Galil

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