WaMu Theater, Seattle, WA
Three years ago, Anderson .Paak was just another random name playing main stage at Bumbershoot at 3pm. Some people were big fans and crowded to the front to sing along, but most of the people lingering around main stage were simply waiting for whoever was on next, carelessly talking over his set and glancing up occasionally to see what was going on. But the summer of 2019 is a very different time than summer 2016. Suddenly, .Paak dropped a new album, announced a tour, and Seattle fans rushed to sell out WaMu to watch in loving awe.
Opening our stop of the Best Teef in the Game tour was Earl Sweatshirt. A very simple, down to the basics kind of guy, Earl performed his set wrapped up in a black hoodie pulled tight all the way around his face, under dark red lighting, doing little more than pacing back and forth slowly across his stage. And with an intro like that, I’m sure it’s hard to believe that Earl’s set wasn’t painfully boring. But the simplicity of it brings out his personality—that’s really just how he is. The bare-bones nature put more focus on his raw sound and lyrics rather than big production qualities, giving the crowd a taste of some of the funky tracks he puts together.
When Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals came on, it was much the opposite. The band exploded on a brightly lit stage in matching blue outfits, opening the music for the night. Then just to make it even more high-production, .Paak himself rose up above the crowd on his tower of a set, drumming passionately to his opening track.
From there, the performance really just took off. Once .Paak come down and sang and performed at the front of the stage, the entire energy of the night changed—it’s impossible not to smile when you watch him perform. He feeds off the crowd’s energy, giving them the big bright show they paid for, all with a smile that takes up half his face, and dance moves that would wow anyone.
After an expert performance, an intense light show, and more of the tracks we’ve all fallen in love with after the last three years, .Paak’s set came to a close, leaving fans stunned and talking about the show for days.
Review and photos by Lulu Dawson