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The Weeknd at SoFi Stadium: An Awe-Inspiring Standard

The superstar delivers a grandiose spectacle spearheaded by a unique visual identity.

Photograph by Luis, Heaviest of Art

Words, Photos by Luis (@heaviestofart) at SoFi Stadium on November 26, 2022:


When The Weeknd abruptly ended one of the SoFi Stadium shows in early September, fans were puzzled, some frustrated with what initially seemed to be an unjust cancellation. The reasons for doing so were unfortunate but valid, reflective of the genuine character of Abel Tesfaye, who places great emphasis on the quality and intentionality of his craft. With a shot voice and a track list that pushes all ends of his wide vocal range, a rescheduling of the show became necessary. Saturday, November 26th saw The Weeknd's return to Inglewood for two back to back After Hours Til Dawn Tour nights of surreal musicianship backed by an electrifying Mike Dean and Kaytranada.


Following the poignant DJ sets, tension rose and anticipation grew to new heights as lights dimmed over a metropolitan cityscape. Lights twinkled above the skyline and the haunting charm of Alone Again rang loudly as Abel rose from a destroyed building to serenade the night away. A sold-out SoFi Stadium gave a warm and quite thunderous welcome to The Weeknd, who shifted from melancholy to infectious rhythmic bliss with the following Gasoline, the likes of which was met by strobing neon green lights and lasers that shot across the stadium.


Surreal is but one word to describe what was on display by way of the revered Abel, who is no stranger to perplexing creative decisions. His aging for the Dawn FM (2022) album cover and vulnerable, injured look for After Hours (2020) drew curiosity but were apt for each development cycle. After Hours Til Dawn tour run had its own, and rightfully so, as Abel tapped into the various state of minds that informed his newfound reign.

Photograph by Luis, Heaviest of Art

The gritty black and white color scheme applied to these photos give off a Gotham City-esque allure, but the show itself is quite vivid in its colorful splendor. Blood red tones fill the arena as a moon towers over the field level audience. Mysterious stage performers shrouded in full body cloaks come sprawling over the crumbling city. Though idle for a large part of Abel's opening tracks, they're far from an accessory to the soundtrack. At times, they dance in unison or reposition themselves along the narrow stretch across the field as lasers and pyrotechnics explode in the vicinity. They're an integral part of the narrative being told and speak highly of the attention to detail placed on the tour's creative development.


More than it being an ethereal scene, Abel's memorable voice radiates throughout the stadium, met by enthusiastic chants and roaring reception from one track to the next, a high point being Call Out My Name. The energy at SoFi once the track's chorus hit was truly moving. Tens of thousands waved their hands and screamed it at the top of their lungs, sending chills down one's spine.

Photograph by Luis, Heaviest of Art

Abel's trailblazing run from Starboy (2016) to After Hours and the latest Dawn FM may have been the catapult to stardom, but its his earlier material that many still hold near and dear to their hearts. The Morning and Wicked Games got their much deserved shine amidst the array of new gems, taking us all back in time as a showcase of The Weeknd's expansive repertoire. It was a celebration that pulled from all eras of the Canadian's output, pleasing fans both new and old with thrilling sights to breathe new life into what was once not possible. When Crew Love released over a decade ago, the thought of Abel touring stadiums with pop-laden, synth heavy excellence was certainly not a thought many considered, but here we are.

Photograph by Luis, Heaviest of Art

Only a select few powerhouse tours, Kendrick Lamar's The Big Steppers Tour included, have capitalized on star power as great as this. As the closing Blinding Lights comes on and lighting rigs go into a frenzy, the grip that Abel holds on a generation is further emphasized. One could consider it to be the most spectacular tour of the year for it blends epic theatrics with one of music's greatest contemporary discographies. After Hours Til Dawn is simply that great, meant for more than just fans of The Weeknd but fans of striking experiences around the world. Europe and Latin America, your turn is up next.


Enjoy a photo gallery of the performance below and stream/order Dawn FM.


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