J. Cole at Vancouver’s PNE [Review]
Vancouver, B.C – The first concert on the North American leg of J. Cole‘s What Dreams May Come World Tour was in effect at Vancouver’s PNE. Jamaica, Queens native, Bas opened things up with a few tracks from his latest mixtape Quarter Water Raised Me doing just enough to get the crowd warmed up without spoiling too much for the main attraction.
J. Cole stumbled on stage rocking black Timbs, a black T and a diamond studded Jesus piece that looked like it had been snatched from King Midas’ personal collection. His entrance felt anticlimactic and after a somewhat weak introduction he jumped into “Trouble” as the opener.
You got the impression that the majority of people in attendance were there not because they were hardcore Cole fans but “because this guy is famous and we came to see him”. For the most part there was a heavy amount of chatting going on that was very apparent when Cole would take breaks during songs to just speak to the audience. The crowd would only snap back to life during the odd hit such as “She Knows” and “Lights Please” – which they pretty much performed on their own as Cole was losing his voice and benched on his stool at the front of the stage.
Cole is not a master showman but is still skilled enough as an emcee that you can understand most of what he’s saying. His set suffered from pacing issues, as the low moments were too low and felt dragged out while the climaxes were few and far between. He would frequently take breaks to just sit on the stairs by his band and swig Hennessy straight out of the bottle. Dude, we understand you perform a lot but it’s Tuesday and we all worked all day too so get your ass up there and entertain me please.
Cole’s missteps continued after inviting Bas back to the stage, for the track “Lit.” His sarcastic, borderline arrogant sense of humor was majorly foul and definitely did not win him any new fans. “I don’t really fuck with you homie” he said to his fellow showman. “Never cheer for him,” he grinned as Bas left the stage. “I’m just telling you who he is. When he comes back to your city, go to his show, but don’t cheer for him.”
Near the end of the set Cole let the fans pick a song. There were so many people waving their hands and yelling random words you’d think you were at an underground boxing match in Bangkok. After half a dozen nominees “Let NaS Down” was the winner but Cole only ended up rapping the hook and one verse.
To end the night off J. Cole asked for the lights to be shined upon the crowd so he could single out individuals and thank them personally. He would point out certain people and acknowledge what they were wearing so they knew with certainty that they were being spoken to. You can imagine this would leave a lasting impression on each person and it’s just what he needed to save himself from a mostly disengaged performance.
Review written by Max Dishaw for HipHopCanada
Photography by Jamie Sands for HipHopCanada