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As Drake performed “Worst Behavior” at Governors Ball, a girl in front of me peed into an empty plastic wine cup. Her friend tried to provide some privacy by turning to the forward-facing crowd and using his body as a shield, but his efforts were futile. Her balance was off, and the execution was sloppy and on full display. I may or may not have urine on my shoes.
Drake is good at bringing out this side in people. It’s not like everyone at a Drake show is peeing into empty wine cups, but there’s this consensus among members of the audience: we’re at a Drake show, and we’re going to let go for a while. It’s reckless, indiscriminate fun. The man has five pages of history on the Billboard charts, and his show is an open invitation for fans to yell out all the lyrics in their Drake-iest voices while Drake struts around on stage.
In 2013, Kanye West headlined Governors Ball and performed on that same stage. I still remember hearing “Send It Up” for the first time. This was only a couple weeks before Yeezus came out, and Kanye was on this runway that extended from the stage and into the audience. In between songs, he didn’t talk to us, he talked at us. Even Kanye’s in-between song banter felt like part of the performance. It was high intensity, explosive, and engaging. There was nobody peeing in a cup during Kanye’s Governors Ball set. You don’t pee in a cup during a Kanye show. You just don’t.
This sense of gravity doesn’t exist at a Drake show. In between crowd favorites like “We Made It,” “Tuesday,” “Headlines,” and “Started From The Bottom,” Drake told us we were the best audience he’s ever had. He also pitted the right side of the audience against the left side, encouraging us both to cheer louder and hate the other half. One guy on my side (the left) was like, “Fuck the right side!” and I didn’t say anything but in my head I was like, “Yup, fuck them.” It was an enjoyable, harmless rivalry. Kanye vented about corporate greed, racism, and barriers, but Drake just wanted us to have fun.
And we knew Drake didn’t mean it when he told us we were the best audience ever. We liked hearing it, though.
In black jeans and a yellow hoodie, Drake performed in front of a video screen showing owls, praying hand emojis, and more text from Jim Joe like that on the cover of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. About halfway through the show, the video screen split apart to reveal jungle scenery (this was a stop on Drake’s Jungle Tour) and a volcano with smoke coming out of it. The branding was perfect. His performance was ornamented with a few pyrotechnic elements and at the end, there was a full-blown fireworks display.
Beforehand, we wondered if Drake would bring out The Weeknd, or Future, or anyone, really. He didn’t. That whole time, it was just him up there, managing the crowd and running through the hits. “Know Yourself” was the one everyone was waiting for—an entire crowd yelling, “Runnin’ through the six with my woes!” is a magical thing—and Drake performed it once, then once again to finish off the show as fireworks exploded in the sky and exhausted Governors Ball attendees started their trek across RFK Bridge.
Drake is one of the best entertainers alive, and that’s because he invites others to escape, to let go, and to join in. With his music, he is constantly evolving, sharpening his skills, and pushing the boundaries, but during his show, he’s simply entertaining. I didn’t walk away feeling as moved as when I heard Kanye doing Yeezus material for the first time, but I sang along with every word to “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” and now I have a funny story about a girl peeing in a wine cup during a Drake show.
Governors Ball continues today and Sunday at Randall’s Island Park in New York. Lineup and more info here.