Spectacular! That is one word to describe the incredible show on Saturday night in Santa Clara, California. But, before we get into the headliner, let’s start from the beginning. It was a beautiful day in Santa Clara, with temperatures reaching 77°. Thousands and thousands of fans walked up to the stadium, as doors opened at 6:30pm. Hundreds of cars were driving to the parking lots, blasting different Abel songs (aka, The Weeknd).
Many fans dressed to impress as if they were going to a club or a fashion show.
People wanted to look good for the show: some fans wore Weeknd merchandise, while others wore crop tops, tank tops and other summer styles. Everyone was super excited with big smiles, giving each other high-fives and ecstatic hugs. You can immediately tell that the fans were anxious and have been patiently waiting for this day to come. Houston producer and musician Mike Dean opened the show; the talented producer played a variety of sounds including the guitar, keyboard and mixes of songs from his albums Smoke State 42222, 4:22 and 4:20. He also played parts of songs he produced with huge artists, including Beyoncé, Kanye West and, naturally, The Weeknd. He looked like he had a great time, smiling as he performed.
Up next was Swedish singer Snoh Aalegra. She definitely brought the energy as she played her hits, “Neon Peach”, I Want You Around” and “Whoa”. It was very cool watching the crowd sing along with her. She also sang “Do 4 Love”, which is actually a song from Bobby Caldwell in which she sang in her own beautiful style. The fans that knew the song cheered her on and was happy to hear it. She played roughly 11 songs and thanked the fans for the support.
Before we talk about The Weeknd, we have to talk about the amazing stage production!
The main stage was very interesting, as the background looked like the city Toronto (where he is from). There were many skylines and one even included the CN tower. It was awesome. In front of the stage were stairs that led down to a long runway — almost the length of the entire football field. In the middle of the runway was another stage designed like a large circle; the end of the runway was the same thing, but also included a huge moon floating above. The visuals were stunning when the moon lit up from the lights above and below it. Sometimes the moon was red and other times, the moon was blue.
It was 9:15pm when the intermission music stopped and the lights dimmed. The crowd went nuts as a group of 22 people slowly walked synchronized onstage, wearing red robes that covered their faces. It was very hypnotizing. Moments later, The Weeknd rose up from below the stage and the crowd roared! He wore a grey mask that had Phantom of the Opera meets Mardi Gras vibes. It set the vibe perfectly. He also wore a red suit that matched the tone. Red was a big theme in the performance, as Toronto behind him and the huge moon above also glowed red.
The Weeknd started off the show with “Alone Again” — the first track of his 2020 critically acclaimed After Hours album. A few songs later, he played hit song “Can’t Feel My Face”. At this point of his career, isn’t every Weeknd song a hit?! The fans went crazy and sang all the lyrics as he walked along the runway. Being one of the biggest songs back in 2015, everyone was dancing their hearts out and having a great time.
Next, was another song to dance to, “Take My Breath”.
One of the most famous songs that features The Weeknd is 2011’s “Crew Love” with Drake. When the beat dropped on the song, fans roared with excitement as that song really put Abel on the map. Throughout the show, the laser lights changed colors and even reached so high above the stadium, it looked like it was in the clouds. It was visually stunning and impressive. The runway had many lights on each side and would change with the song or tone.
In the middle of his set, he asked where everyone was from. He said “scream if you’re from Oakland”, then “San Jose”, then “Santa Clara” and finally, “San Francisco”. He knows the Bay Area very well and always shows fans his love and appreciation. He even told the crowd the west coast always brings it and shows so much love.
He continued singing hit after hit, including “Heartless” “Kiss Land” and “I Feel It Coming”. Fans were singing all the lyrics to every song: it was beautiful to listen to, because there are so many dedicated fans that were enjoying every moment. After finishing “I Feel It Coming”, the crowd continued to cheer and roar for Able. He got emotional and looked like he was tearing up from the big screens on the side of the main stage. It was a beautiful moment that The Weeknd appreciated — the overwhelming love from his fans.
He finished off his 29-song set with “Blinding Lights”.
One of the most amazing moments in the show was when thousands of fans’ wristbands started to light up with flashing white lights. It was something completely new to me — quite remarkable! The whole stadium was flashing and flickering lights along with the stage and runway. With the moon lit up, as well, it was the most spectacular light show I have personally ever seen! Fans screamed and cheered as he walked offstage. Thank you, Abel, for this amazing set list and performance! The man truly knows how to control a crowd of over 51,000 fans. He is the captain of the ship and we were all enjoying the ride.
Photography by Arik Ruiz