Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Column: Drake is the musical equivalent of salad and breadsticks

When it comes to Category: Spirited Debates, the arts and entertainment side of the newsroom has it in spades. While talk of politics and crime typically circulate around the building, pop music/culture critic Jay Cridlin and I recently had this Spirited Debate:

Drake.

Jay has become kind of fed up with the Canadian megastar's people-pleasing sound, which he explores in this week's cover story. "From the permafrost far below, your friendly Canadian rap god appears to be idling atop his Olympus," the story goes, "pleasing all kinds of people but going nowhere in the process." Drake, he posited, can only live in the middle for so long.

STEP IT UP, DRAKE: Drake, bound for Tampa Saturday, tries to please the masses

From my high school debate team podium, I pushed my glasses up and argued that in the middling middle, Drake has actually found his truth. He has carved out a brand (bland?) of slow jams that aren't exactly slow, what you play while driving to a hot date at the Olive Garden. He has found his thing, and that thing is unlimited salad and breadsticks. Why change what works?

For a tiebreaker, I called Chris Quirin, known around town as DJ BigChrisTheMovie. Along with Matt Kaye, Quirin puts on semi-regular Drake Nights at the Bends, a cool bar in downtown St. Petersburg.

The Bends threw a Drake Night at Christmas, to which people wore Drake sweaters, and one around Valentine's Day with posters of Drake on the wall inside hearts. The Bends is having a Drake Night this weekend, the night before Drake's show at Amalie Arena.

Quirin found out about Drake Nights in other cities and had to bring the concept here. Quirin mashes up Drake and other songs all night. There are Drake masks. Drake videos play on loop. There is a "Champagne Papi toast" at midnight.

It is one of the Bends' more popular events. People flock to Drake Night, in part because Drake is so palatable to women and men alike. Quirin explained:

"He kind of touches on lots of different bases. He's safe, but he's also a little dangerous, too. He's just real popular."

I floated my theory that Drake has become authentically Milquetoast and in doing so, has self-actualized.

"You're right!" he said, which made me want to run to Jay's desk immediately and do laps with a victory flag, but I let Quirin continue.

"He is about slow jams, but they're still good. People can dance to them and party and have a good time to it, which is kind of rare. People are dancing, people are standing there on the dance floor screaming the lyrics. As a person playing someone else's music, it makes my job really easy."

He defined Drake's sound in a way that shouldn't make sense but does:

"It's a slow-upbeat."

Sure! If you have been pro-Drake since he was little Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi, or if you continue to expect more fizzy from Drizzy, Drake Night is a good place to work out your feelings. It's from 10 p.m. to closing time Friday at 919 1st Ave N. And there are Drake-themed cocktails, so get a Hennessy in your hand. It helps fuel debates.

 
Comments
Tampa Bay Margarita Festival schedule, set times: When to see the Wallflowers, Everclear and more

Tampa Bay Margarita Festival schedule, set times: When to see the Wallflowers, Everclear and more

It's anyone's guess as to whether this weekend's ugly rains will hold off long enough for the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival to crack open some 10,000 bottles of tequila in Curtis Hixon Park.But if it does, you want to know when you can see your favori...
Updated: 10 hours ago
97X Barbecue schedule, set times: When to see Awolnation, Dirty Heads, more in St. Petersburg

97X Barbecue schedule, set times: When to see Awolnation, Dirty Heads, more in St. Petersburg

The 97X Barbecue Music and Arts Festival — formerly the 97X BBQ, formerly the 97X Barbecue, formerly … well, who can keep track of it all? — returns on Saturday to Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, with a lineup that includes Awolnation...
Updated: 11 hours ago
John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn’t backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

John Fogerty, coming to Clearwater, isn’t backing down on protest songs, Parkland and #MeToo

It’s been 50 years since John Fogerty wrote Fortunate Son, one of the most scathing protest songs from the Vietnam War era. Writing another one with that kind of impact has been a challenge ever since. "Back in the ’80s, I had a couple o...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Suwannee Hulaween lineup: Odesza, Jamiroquai, Janelle Monae and more

Suwannee Hulaween lineup: Odesza, Jamiroquai, Janelle Monae and more

For the second straight year, one of the most eclectic music festivals in Florida will be taking place in Live Oak.Suwannee Hulaween just announced the lineup for its 2018 edition, coming Oct. 26-28 at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, and it featur...
Updated: 12 hours ago
A weekend of festivals: Sunset Music Fest, 97X Barbecue, WMNF’s US Festival tribute

A weekend of festivals: Sunset Music Fest, 97X Barbecue, WMNF’s US Festival tribute

THE BEATS GO ON: Sunset Music FestivalAt last year’s Sunset Music Festival, the focus was all on crowd safety. After two fans died from drug overdoses at Tampa’s largest annual rave in 2016, organizers heightened security across the board, yielding a...
Published: 05/23/18
Review: Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Championship Tour’ brings good sportsmanship, great rhymes to Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

Review: Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Championship Tour’ brings good sportsmanship, great rhymes to Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

Do they give Pulitzer Prizes for concerts featuring golf cart rides, cartoon sports-card backdrops and a slam-dunking doggie mascot?If so, Kendrick Lamar might want to start clearing shelf space for plaque No. 2.Weeks after the rapturous adulation th...
Published: 05/23/18
Want to drink free whiskey with country star John Rich in Tampa on Friday?

Want to drink free whiskey with country star John Rich in Tampa on Friday?

Here's an offbeat way to start your Memorial Day weekend right.Country star John Rich, half of the colorful, multiplatinum country duo Big and Rich, is coming to town for a couple of promotional appearances on Friday, including a tasting of his new w...
Published: 05/23/18
SZA will not appear at tonight’s Kendrick Lamar Championship Tour

SZA will not appear at tonight’s Kendrick Lamar Championship Tour

Singer SZA will not perform at Kendrick Lamar's Championship Tour at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa Tuesday, organizers announced shortly before the concert. Lamar's Top Dawg Entertainment label posted the news on Twitter. The Gra...
Published: 05/22/18
The Dirty Heads talk backyard barbecues, shedding the ‘reggae rock’ label and more

The Dirty Heads talk backyard barbecues, shedding the ‘reggae rock’ label and more

It's hard to say, exactly, how many 97X events the Dirty Heads have played at this point. There were three Next Big Things, at least, plus an acoustic Green Room performance or two.And if you want to talk about shows in St. Petersburg, forget about i...
Published: 05/22/18
SoundBytes: Todd Rundgren, Zomboy, Doyle, Bob Log III and more

SoundBytes: Todd Rundgren, Zomboy, Doyle, Bob Log III and more

— The wizard is returning. Just a few weeks after performing at the Mahaffey Theater with his band Utopia, Todd Rundgren is performing at the Capitol Theatre on Aug. 18. Tickets are $39 and up. Click here.— The headliners have been announ...
Published: 05/21/18