Las Vegas, NV
August 20th, 2022
By Savannah Rowley
On August 20th, after waiting two and a half years, fans travelled from across the country to see Abel Tesfaye, better known by stage name The Weeknd, bring his ‘After Hours Til Dawn’ tour to Vegas. Specifically, Allegiant Stadium, where 65,000+ fans showed out for a huge night. Fans had even requested that the Las Vegas City Hall lights glow red and blue in honor of the After Hours Til Dawn transition. The Weeknd is especially known for the popular 2020 single, “Blinding Lights”, which was crowned the “biggest Billboard 100 Chart single of all time,” in 2021, but his musical roots go back deeper than many think. Emerging in 2011 with three mixtapes (the Trilogy series – House Of Balloons, Echoes Of Silence, and Thursday), he’s now a global superstar who’s even played the Super Bowl halftime show.
“ooh, I’m blinded by the lights” 🎵
— City of Las Vegas (@CityOfLasVegas) August 20, 2022
Taking inspiration from the city of Las Vegas, The Weeknd filmed his “Blinding Lights” music video and the introductory After Hours single “Heartless” music video in between The Plaza Hotel in Downtown Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip. There was a certain sense of magic in the air as fans headed to the stadium. The anticipation was building at the opportunity to finally see The Weeknd bring his After Hours universe to life, along with his latest album Dawn FM, which was released earlier this year in January. The show overall was nothing short of breath-taking, from opening act Kaytranada getting fans in the groove, to the ‘technically and visually stunning’ performance and production from The Weeknd.
Opening act Kaytranada is a Haitian-Canadian DJ and record producer who set the vibe for the rest of the night to follow. As fans gathered to their seats, you could see rows of people dancing or throwing their hands around in the air, letting loose and feeding off of the overall energy throughout the stadium. He performed a majority of songs off of his 2019 album Bubba, such as “Scared to Death”, “Vex Oh”, and “The Worst In Me”. Also, some artist remixes such as Normani’s “Wild Side” and Chance the Rapper’s “All Night”.
Kaytranada’s set ended around 8:15PM, as fans continued to pour into the stadium and others went for drinks and merchandise, everyone’s excitement could be felt as they patiently waited for The Weeknd to start. Taking to Twitter earlier in the day, Abel showed some love to Las Vegas stating “this town is the whole reason this after hours universe exists…tonight’s a special one!” Leaving fans to ponder what exactly he means by special as he welcomes them to his ‘opera’.
THIS TOWN IS THE REASON THIS WHOLE AFTER HOURS UNIVERSE EXISTS… TONIGHT’S A SPECIAL ONE ! pic.twitter.com/LW0bSwPYhB
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) August 20, 2022
As showtime approached, a new, second trailer for The Weeknd’s upcoming HBO Max Series “The Idol” premiered. While the six episode series does not have a release date yet, the casting and imagery were enough to keep viewers on their toes in anticipation for the premiere. The series will be The Weeknd’s first major acting role and debut as an executive producer and co-writer alongside Euphoria creator Sam Levinson. The cast features familiar faces such as Troye Sivan, Jennie Ruby Jane (of Blackpink), and Lily-Rose Depp, while the storyline surrounds a modern day cult leader who enters into a relationship with an upcoming pop singer. From the gutters of Hollywood, the sleaziest love story will be coming to us soon. You can watch the trailer below:
As 9PM rolled around fans eagerly began screaming and cheering for Abel, and at approximately 9:08PM he ascends from the stage overlooking the 3-D cityscape backdrop modeled similarly to the 2021 Super Bowl performance stage. Taking some inspiration from the popular musical The Phantom of the Opera, The Weeknd appears in an all black coat and face mask. The costume perfectly resembles the mood of his opening song, “Alone Again”, the introductory track off After Hours, when you hear him belt out the lyrics “take off my disguise, I’m living someone else’s life”. Throughout the tour, Abel has personalized “Alone Again” by changing the lyric “In Vegas I feel so at home” to fit the city he is in, however in the case for Vegas, the screams only grew louder as fans finally heard the song as intended, in the place the After Hours universe was created.
The title ‘After Hours Til Dawn’ fits the tour perfectly as The Weeknd transitions from “Alone Again” into Dawn FM’s “Gasoline” and “Sacrifice”, where the lighting then switches from red to a blue-green seemingly complimenting the mood of the songs in correlation to videos and album aesthetics. Dancers dressed in red cascaded down the stage and surrounded Abel among a sea of lights, lasers, and fire, potentially symbolizing the demons he’s faced from his own mind to his previous relationships with women, drugs, etc. The transitions incorporated throughout the performance truly showcase The Weeknd’s journey from club shows and arenas to selling out stadiums. Dedicating “Die For You” to the crowd saying they always make him feel at home, the fans’ voices echoing throughout the stadium during “The Morning”, the jumping, singing and raging energy during “Less Than Zero”, you could feel the excitement and thrill all around.
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Combining a total of 29 songs together from his full discography, The Weeknd brought Sin City to life through his performance both sonically and visually with his flawless delivery and an unmatched vocal range that sounds even better live. A cinematic experience that fans will remember for a long time to come, I know I certainly will. Saving the best for last, The Weeknd surprised fans at the end of his show by honoring his red suit legacy one last time during the final song, “Blinding Lights”. Saying to fans, “I promised I would never wear this red suit again, but since I’m in Las Vegas, the entire reason that After Hours even exists, we’re gonna rock it out one more time”, stating it was the final time he would be wearing the suit. An incredible way to commemorate the After Hours era, ending the show symbolically by facing his demons and walking into the light towards the stage, disappearing from the crowd.
With some truly massive production, The Weeknd is undoubtedly one of the biggest artists in the world right now – in any genre. And the best part? Abel Tesfaye never forgets where he came from.