Lil Wayne and Drake enthrall crowd at First Niagara Pavilion

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As if they needed any excuse to get up on stage together, Drake and Lil Wayne duked it out at the First Niagara Pavilion Sunday night.

The Drake versus Lil Wayne tour, in theory, is a good idea. Two superstars at the frontlines of popular music are invited to perform 10-minute sets back and forth, trading insults as audience members utilize a downloadable app that counts votes for one or another.

In the end, Lil Wayne won the battle, and for good reason.

Immediately, the artist bounded onstage, shirtless and wearing a snapback with the sales tag still attached. He ran from one end of the stage to another, stopping every so often to pull up his sagging pants but delivering energy and popular hits like “Mr. Carter” and “Lollipop.” It was these chart-topping songs that riled up the audience and showed his commitment to his music better than a couple of songs off his mixtape he performed.

In comparison to his leaping and sagging counterpart, Drake, though charismatic and more heartfelt, looked docile and lethargic. As each artist insulted the other, the show began to feel like an ego-fest.

After all, Lil Wayne introduced himself saying “I am just simply Lil Wayne.”

Though the rappers had good chemistry and performed well together, the back-and-forth pattern began to lose traction, and the denouement, if you will, occurred when Lil Wayne put on a shirt and both artists joined onstage to make peace and perform together. And the show ended after Drake completed the popular ALS ice bucket challenge.

Though they were energetic and delivered a competitive twist to old and new songs, the performance didn’t necessarily add anything to the songs that many have already heard time and time again. You had to wonder if it would’ve been worth it to just turn on the radio.

The event was complete with intricate light patterns, fireworks, fancy graphics and a device that, at one point, sent Drake zip-lining above his audience. At times, these details simply made the concert feel like a glorified light show.

But Lil Wayne and Drake gave audience members exactly what they wanted, and the mostly young audience seemed enthralled as they left the show and into a crowded parking lot – a small price to pay for a well-attended, double-header performance. Overall, audience members were left satisfied and happy – and grateful that they hadn’t gotten a bucket of iced water thrown on them at midnight. But as Drake would say, don’t think about it too much.

Kate Mishkin: or 412-263-1352.

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