Anderson .Paak brings Cali to great white north

Grammy-winner fills Toronto's REBEL with funky waves

The Spectrum

TORONTO — Anderson .Paak is a jack of all trades.

He danced, drummed and sang the night away to prove his skill in Toronto on Tuesday night.

.Paak, a Grammy-winning rap artist from California, brought his “Andy’s Beach Club Tour” to the REBEL nightclub this week. But the venue, with its fool’s gold art deco ceiling and fake $100 bills on the ground, appeared too small for the bigtime star. 

.Paak reached heights, both musically and performatively, on stage. The soulful singer, backed by his band The Free Nationals, circled his discography all night and performed smash hits with ease in front of the sold-out crowd.

The show started at roughly 8 p.m. as singer Tayla Parx jumped to a hot start. Parx, who has helped pen songs such as Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next,” melodically warmed up the crowd with style and smoothness. She played both tracks she wrote for other artists and her own solo material.

But the crowd was ready for .Paak to give it his best by 9 p.m.

The singer came out to “The Chase,” the opening number on his latest album “Oxnard.” .Paak lit up in a palette of reds and oranges as his silhouette appeared to the crowd’s delight.

Between his soul and charisma, the singer was the center of fun and electricity.

On top of it all, he dug deep into his discography.

And he was on top of it all. The artist sat behind his drum kit once the track started and his silhouette rose above the sold-out crowd.

On “Milk n’ Honey,” the singer’s vocals were covered in gold and showed that, while drumming may be one of .Paak’s main draws, his skills off the kit are just as memorable. On other songs like “Might Be,” off his album “Venice,” the artist’s vocals coolified a snappy beat to the pleasure of the Canadian crowd. 

.Paak and the crowd mended well throughout Tuesday night, as The Free Nationals –– .Paak’s funky backing band –– accompanied the artist’s crowd favorites like “Glowed Up” and “Bubblin.” 

The opening to “Bubblin” was dazzled with .Paak reminding the crowd about the track earning a Grammy for Best Rap Song just this month.

But he didn’t need to gloat to impress his fans.

.Paak and the Free Nationals rolled over funky bumps on songs like “Suede.” Other cuts like “Come Down” brought a tidal wave of cheer to the REBEL, as .Paak’s vocals glided over the beat like ice and fans throughout the venue bobbed their heads in unison. Notably, .Paak hopped behind the drums throughout the show, just like he did with his opener, to showcase his array of artistic talents, as well.

The night was full of highs and it was hard to top his conclusion, a tribute to the late Mac Miller. 

The singer performed his Miller collaboration “Dang!” with grace and one fan even took out a lighter in the indoor venue to accompany the ode to his lost collaborator.

The majority of the crowd threw their hands up with .Paak’s in honor of Miller and the recent loss in the hip-hop community. The last song was a fitting end to the show and for longtime fans of .Paak, his latest tour is an hour-and-a-half diddy that’s hard to forget.

Benjamin Blanchet is the editorial editor and can be reached at benjamin.blanchet@ubspectrum.comand on Twitter @BenjaminUBSpec.


Benjamin Blanchet is the senior engagement editor for The Spectrum. His words have been seen in The Buffalo News (Gusto) and The Sun newspapers of Western New York. Loves cryptoquip and double-doubles.