Leading up to Block Party this week, campus was buzzing with several questions about the status of Drake’s voice. After canceling a show at University of Massachusetts-Lowell Wednesday due to a vocal problem, the Toronto native’s situation dominated conversations around campus.
But once Drake took the stage in the Carrier Dome, he wasted little time easing the audience’s concerns.
“The doctor told me to take three days off,” Drake said while sipping on some water. “But I couldn’t do that to my family at Syracuse.”
With 9,584 “family members” on hand, Drake became the new record-holding headliner to perform on campus. This year’s sold-out Block Party, which also featured N.E.R.D., K-OS and Francis & the Lights, shattered the previous ticket sale record of 8,137 from Kanye West’s Block Party performance in 2006.
But the 23-year-old Young Money artist didn’t make history alone. Midway through his performance, Drake stunned the crowd and brought out Birdman to perform “4 My Town”, “Money to Blow”, and a rendition of “Still Fly”. The surprise appearance from the New Orleans native elicited an enormous cheer from those in attendance and was arguably the highlight of the night.
But Drake’s surprises didn’t end there. With the “Unthinkable” instrumental playing in the background, he invited a female audience member to join him on stage for a sensual dance.
Then, following his performance of “Invented Sex”, he turned on the stage lights and spent about five minutes pinpointing girls in different sections of the Dome and showered them with endearing compliments.
Prior to Drake’s routine, however, N.E.R.D. warmed up the crowd as one of the three opening acts. The group performed popular hits, such as “She Wants to Move”, “Everybody Nose”, “Rockstar” and even debuted its next single “Hot N Fun”.
In order to engage the crowd, lead singer Pharrell Williams invited several students on stage to dance with him. At one point, he even participated in a lighthearted dance-off with one of his guests on stage.
Following his performance, Williams jumped off stage and into the crowd to share a moment with his adoring fans. Sauntering through the aisles, he managed to get a hold of an orange shirt from a student.
Once he returned onto stage, Williams capped his N.E.R.D.’s show by unfolding the shirt and proudly displayed the message on it, which said “Go Euclid, F--- Walnut”.
Aside from Williams’ spontaneous and comedic conduct, Drake ultimately stole the show. He captivated the crowd with his music, performing a variety of songs from his heralded mixtape “So Far Gone”. He even unveiled never-before-heard lyrics from his upcoming album Thank Me Later.
K-OS performs for a packed Carrier Dome Friday night. (PHOTO: Max Nepstad)
After performing his solo medley of his acclaimed collaborations, Drake took time to shout out his mentor and fellow labelmate – Lil’ Wayne, who is currently serving jail time for criminal possession of a weapon. He led the Carrier Dome in chants of “Free Weezy” and asked the audience to sing his entire verse from “I’m Goin In” in his honor.
To close the show, Drake sent the crowd into a frenzy by performing “Best I Ever Had” and “Over” –- his most popular singles to date –- as he defied orders from staff to prematurely wrap the show because he eclipsed the time allotted.
"It’s only right I take a night off for Syracuse."