Nothing can match the connection you feel with a performer during a live show. Inversely, nothing is capable of breaking that connection more than an unresponsive crowd. One moment the crowd is in complete hysterics, the next they are deafeningly quiet and indifferent. The self-awareness that comes with this, makes for an awkward hand-waving and sing-alonging concert experience for the devoted fan. Unfortunately, I have often found myself in these situations when my favorite rappers came to town. Pusha T is yet another performer to have fallen victim of Montreal’s bipolar rap crowds.

As openers, Mc Rain tried his best to entertain, DJ Simahlak spun a good set and The Posterz, who were the surprise gem of the night, attempted to wake up an already indifferent audience with varying levels of success.

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As his DJ and hype man came onto the stage, the anticipation of Pusha T became the blaring alarm clock the spectators needed. Pusha T exploded onto the scene to with his song ‘King Push!’ The energy and grit of his opening performance sent most of the attendees into hysterics. The audience found themselves gasping for air trying to keep up with line after line of his aggressively powerful track. It was beautiful! It was all coming together nicely.

A little further into the set, he began his trap house anthem “MILLIONS!’ The building went crazy, everyone was having fun, and people were getting wild as he rapped with overwhelming intensity and force. In hindsight it seems that the audience was saving themselves for Pusha T and only him, the same way that Disney movies taught us to deal with finding the “One, true love.” After a few more songs, I began to notice his attire. He was wearing an awesome chinchilla style jacket, surely beyond my price range, and his signature black tuque. I couldn’t help but think to myself, while I recognize the music, I do not recognize the Pusha T I had met when I heard his track “Grindin” a number of years ago: you changed Pusha.

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It was as if he had heard me. In one motion, he threw off the glitz and glamour that defines the current G.O.O.D. music edition of Terrence Thornton – the self-proclaimed King Push – and brought back the all-black-wearing Pusha T that I could have bought a dime bag off of. He continued his set that oscillated between both versions of Pusha T. From the Fear of GODmixtapes, his early G.O.O.D. music days, Wrath of Caine, and finally his new album My Name is My Name.” As the main set ended, I started to appreciate how great of a show it was. Pusha T brought, power, authority, and emotion to every track without sacrificing the musicality that makes every one of his songs special.

After a few minutes of post show conversation, the DJ came back on stage and exclaimed “Do y’all want some more Pusha T!?” This interjection is usually met with a roar of excitement followed by frenzied chants of the artist or band’s name. He instead was met with a generally apathetic response that changed the exclamation into a genuine question: “Do … y’all want more Pusha T… ?”. Concert decorum dictates that he was coming back on stage for a few more tracks, but some did not have the common decency to play the role of the audience and demand more of the headlining artist. You are a fan, you’re allowed to.

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As “Grindin’” began with the now classic lyrics, “From ghetto to ghetto, to backyard to yard / I sell it un-whipped, it’s soft or hard / I’m the neighborhood Pusha, call me Subwoofer, cause I pump base like that, Jack,” the Telus Theater audience let Pusha T see and feel that they have been with him since the beginning. His original rap group Clipse, may be gone but they were not forgotten, or even moderately under-appreciated.

It is like going to see Journey, no matter how difficult everything is to that point, when you hear those piano notes and everyone breaks into “just a small town girl…” You, know what I mean.

 [ Words by Dekizzle – Photos by Michael Gannon]

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Setlist:

1. Suicide

2. So Appalled

3. Runaway

4. Mercy

5. My God

6. EXODUS 23:1

7. I DONT LIKE (REMIX)

8. New God Flow

9. Pain

10. NOSTALGIA

11. Sweet Serenade

12. NUMBERS ON THE BOARD

Encore:

13. 40 acres

14. Trust you

15. Grindin’