Review: 7th Annual OVO Festival: “Summer Sixteen” [Sunday, July 31st]

If you’re from Toronto, you already know how influential OVO fest is on the city’s music culture/music scene and culture.This year, the three day festival fell on the same weekend as Toronto’s Caribana weekend, which celebrates Caribbean culture with food and the sounds of Soca, Dancehall and Reggae music. Torontonians had the privilege of entertaining themselves with the abundant selection of parties, concerts and events brought on by both Caribana and OVO Fest. 

We had the opportunity to check out the second event of the 7th Annual OVO Festival at Air Canada Centre on Sunday, July 31st. Walking towards the ACC, I was met by hundreds of fans, who came down early to stock up on OVO’s latest and greatest gear before heading to the show. The festival kicked off with Roy Woods and DVSN, who are new signee’s to the OVO Sounds roster.

Roy Woods performed his tracks, “Drama”, “Gwan Big Up Yourself”, “Jealousy”, “Get You Good”. But between his album and EP, I couldn’t help but feel that there was something missing in his performance. Perhaps it’s because he’s still growing his fan base, or like most opening acts, the artist has to deal with the unfortunate reality of allowing the crowd to filter who aren’t paying much attention to openers. Overall, I think if his performance had a little more vigor, it could’ve captured more of the audience attention. However, this isn’t a bad reality for the artist since he’s considered still relatively “new” and fans are still getting to know his music and what he brings to the table. But for the fans who know his talents as singer, producer, songwriter, we know his potential as an artist as it far exceed his current stage presence – which takes practice. My favourite Roy Woods performance was definitely “Gwan Big Up Yourself”, because the song brings the light, island vibe, which was fitting for the weekend. Fans of his song were singing at the top of their lungs and swaying with the rhythm, it’s always special to be able to share in a moment like that. Overall, his performance exacerbated a mellow, hazy feeling that put the audience in a chilled and relaxed mood before the headliners hit the stage. Honestly, I’m excited to see what he brings to the stage at future shows and his growth as a stage performer.

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DVSN (Daniel Daley) was the next one up and was accompanied by a choir of three. He performed his own rendition of Michael Jackson‘s “Billie Jean” and his singles including “Hallucinations”, “The Line”, and “Too Deep”. The singer-songwriter kept it simple by carrying his performance with beautiful falsettos supported by his choir. It’s rare to hear R&B as raw as what DVSN brings to the table – no gimmicks, no auto-tune, and no special effects.

His performance captured the audience from the get-go, as proven by an on-looker making their way to their seats who had to stop and take in what was happening. That is the power of music and talent in unfiltered form. Overall, the OVO Sounds singer’s performance was bold and sultry. He is as classic as R&B comes, displayed the performance of a seasoned veteran, even though he only really took off late last year. Aided by a minimalistic stage set-up, the whole performance honed in on who he is as an artist and made you excited for what else he can bring, and it’s safe to say that strengthened my respect for him. This concluded the opening acts and fans were in anticipating of the final acts of Summer Sixteen.

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Drake hit the stage with an explosion (literally) as the stage was equipped with fireworks, pyrotechnics, and confetti shooters. The Toronto rapper held the stage with the words “Looking for Revenge” overshadowing him as he performed, “Summer Sixteen”. He continued to perform tracks from his latest EP, “Views” including “Doing Well”, “9” and much more. Drake is a seasoned performer with over 8 of experience. It’s understood that he really knows how to read the crowd, switch his style of performance, and move the audience onto their feet.

He gave fans a range of unique performances including one musical rendition which looped the “0 to 100” lyric, “I should probably sign the Hit-boy/ cause I got all the hits, boy“, where Drake rapped verses from smash hits like Big Sean‘s “Blessed”, 2 Chainz‘ “No Lie”, French Montana‘s “Pop Dat”, DJ Khaled‘s “I’m on One”, The Weeknd‘s “Crew Love” to cleverly call out his significance to many chart topping hip-hop singles.

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In addition, Drake gave his own twist to his OVO Sound’s PARTYNEXTDOOR new single “Come and See Me“, which was a cool ‘what if’ scenario for fans who could imagine what a full Drake version would sound like.

He also performed new renditions of his songs, featuring a combination of samples and the corresponding single. He kicked things off with Timmy ThomasWhy Can’t We Live Together”, sampled on “Hotline Bling”, leading lead to his performance of his smash hit as the ceiling lit up with illuminated orbs moved to mimic the melody of the song. This was absolutely one of my favourite moments of the show because it gave me the impression that outside of performing his hit singles, he’s willing and ready to go beyond that to make it spectacle.

A video posted by BestFan (@bestfanblog) on

From Drake‘s set alone, the show had much to offer. Being a frequent attendee of OVO Festival since its debut back in 2009, Drake‘s evolution as a performer never ceases to impress me. With each passing year, the staging, special effects, performance, and energy continues prove why fans come back year after year. Drake gave us a performance of “Grammys”, which introduced the next act, Atlanta rapper, Future who had a lot to prove as well.

With the energy at its highest from Drake‘s performance, Future took to the stage and kicked things off with his verse from smash hits like A$AP Ferg‘s “New Level”, Ty Dolla $ign‘s “Blase“, Ace Hood‘s “Bugatti”, his own “Move That Dope”, and much more. With each performed song, he played the corresponding music video for each of the artists. His range of songs performed were heavily focused on his multiple mixtapes such as “Purple Reign” and recent album, “Dirty Sprite 2“, he performed songs like, “Drippin”, “Trap N*ggas”, “Fuck Up Some Commas” to which he was joined by some dancers to show off some moves he’s been working on.

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Don’t get me wrong I was all the way up when Future came on (from start to finish), but based on my observation – there was a huge group of fans who were thrown off by his performance. perhaps because they weren’t familiar with his extended range of hit singles. Said that, there was still a large group (including myself) of fans whipping their wrists and taking in one of this year’s best artists.

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The show was working its way into its conclusion as Drake then joined Future to perform a few cuts from their joint album, “What A Time To Be Alive“, they performed songs such as “Big Rings” and “Jumpman”, before Drake went back to taking over the stage. He took a moment to speak on Future’s impact on him, and his love for his city and promised to spoil them, which cued the appearance of international singer Rihanna, as she made an appearance from the ground resulting in a roar of screams from the arena.

Surprise guest, Rihanna took to the stage to perform “Needed Me”,  & “B*tch Better Have My Money” before being joined by Drake for a special performance of “Too Good” and “Work”. Their chemistry on stage was undeniable. Many of the fans were hysterical as it added more fuel to the fire of dating rumours. Even though tomorrow’s show will feature a magnitude of surprise guests, Sunday’s show was excellent as a stand-alone. Fans were able to enjoy hit singles from both Future and Drake, along with jaw-dropping set design and special effects to make the show one for the books.

The “Summer Sixteen” tour returns back for two more shows on October 8th and 9th, you can still purchase tickets via Ticketmaster.

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