Updated January 9, 2020 - 10:46 am
Drake has a way of gift-rapping hints at XS Nightclub.
The adept performer, astute entrepreneur and avid Toronto Raptors fan did it again late Wednesday night. He opened his performance at the Encore nightlife fortress with, “Welcome to the first Drake show of 2020!”
Drake has no shows on the books this year at the indoor/outdoor XS and Encore Beach Club. But the contract the club announced last spring for five shows in 2019 was expected to be extended with another five this year.
Wearing a marshmallow-white Nike tracksuit and matching cap, Drake fired through a 60-minute set for about 4,800 clubgoers inside XS and on the Encore pool deck. The 40,000-square-foot venue was packed, a turnout that seemed to rival the night almost a year ago to the day when Drake set a club record by grossing $2 million in a single performance.
Those in the VIP sections included Flavor Flav, who clocked in about 2 a.m., and Dennis Quaid with his fiance, Laura Savoie. Spotted in the middle of the dance floor was a gentleman dressed as Hunter S. Thompson (yellow-tinted shades, Hawaiian shirt, safari hat, dangling cigarette, fiendish gaze).
Not official CES show
Drake’s show was timed to coincide with CES 2020, but was not officially sponsored by the convention. Nonetheless, many clubgoers rolled in from the convention, and not everyone knew who they were watching. One attendee from Amsterdam, who said only that he was an executive from Google, asked who was the night’s headliner.
When given a crib-note version of Drake’s bio, the man smiled and said his $300 ticket was a bargain while flashing his All Access wrist band.
Though a chill hit the club from the outdoor deck, it was not an entirely cool experience. Some grappling went on near the front of the stage. Drake has attended enough NBA games courtside to know when things are getting chippy, and he talked a couple of fans out of combative escalation as the club’s security team filed to the stage.
“You good? You sure? Hey, look, you’re not here to fight at all. It’s all love in this place,” the superstar said, bending to address a group near the stage. “Security, security, let him stay and watch the show. He’s good. They’re not going to fight anymore.”
But security officials escorted at least one fan out of the venue.
The show was not interrupted further. The 33-year-old rapper toasted routinely, hoisting what was likely a flute of his Mod champagne, which is served at the club during his shows.
Calls for peace, love
Drake’s final toast was simple call for peace and love.
“I work on behalf of you, but I do have one ask, and it’s very important, considering the few people that wanted to fight tonight and considering all the things that are going on in America right now,” he said, striding across the stage. “Everybody outside, everybody in the VIP section no matter how famous and rich you are, everybody in the CES section … you have no idea what the next person is going through, what the next person has been through, or what the next person is about to go through. So I want you to turn to somebody that you don’t know, I want you to give them a hug, introduce yourself and show some love.”
Most in the crowd followed the directive. From my spot, the show ended with an embrace with a stranger from Amsterdam. By then, he understood who Drake was.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.