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Drake's Club Paradise Tour Kickoff Concert on Valentine's Day in Miami

See the full 20-photo Drake at BankUnited Center slideshow.

Drake's Club Paradise Tour

With ASAP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar

BankUnited Center at University of Miami

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Better Than: Slightly dirty sweet talk that's not set to million-dollar beats.

Have you ever visited Club Paradise?

In the words of your celebrity host, overly emotional though sufficiently tough Young Money Cash Money rapper Drake, it's "the greatest club in the world!"

We, however, would describe the joint as a total teen scene.

Drake's Club Paradise Tour Kickoff Concert on Valentine's Day in Miami
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

Don't get it twisted, though. This so-called Club Paradise isn't some chain of all-ages discotheques-slash-arcades that Drake's planning to launch in megamalls across America. It's just the imaginary locale for his current 39-show world tour.

And last night, 8000 insanely shrieking Drizzy Drake superfans piled into Paradise (AKA the University of Miami's BankUnited Center) for the Young Money wunderkind's V-Day kickoff concert.

Drake's Club Paradise Tour Kickoff Concert on Valentine's Day in Miami
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

By 8 p.m., the arena's seats were already packed with manic 15-year-old girls chaperoned by mom; dry-humping GFs and BFs; and an endless expanse of 20-ish chicks in red/black/pink YMCMB tees.

But even though the average age of a Club Paradise attendee could be accurately estimated at approximately 21 years of age, there were still a few older types hanging around the BankUnited, including old-school hustlers and their women, wannabe Scarfaces with slinky coked-out arm candy, even a fat white dude with an actual ho.

Still, it was a predominantly young, horny, and female crowd. And all hopped up on nachos, Diet Coke, and Papa John's personal pan pizzas from the concession stand, they were ready for some fucking romance.

Drake's Club Paradise Tour Kickoff Concert on Valentine's Day in Miami
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

But after a couple of quickie sets by ASAP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar, this pheromone-soaked mob was forced to wait on Drizzy. So ... Cute lil' couples sucked face near the restrooms. Entire groups of girls closed their eyes and sang along to Lil Wayne's ooey-gooey "How to Love." And ushers wandered the arena, passing out red roses to single, questionably legal ladies.

At precisely 9:37 p.m., though, Drake finally sprinted out of a hole in the center of the stage, inciting a massive squall of absolute insanity as tweens, teens, and 20-somethings literally lost control of themselves.

They shrieked and squealed and stomped and shook, whipped their hair, and humped their seats while he dashed through the darkness, dodging vertical beams of bright white light and rattling off two-minute versions of "Lord Knows" and "Underground Kings" off his newest slab, Take Care -- plus DJ Khaled's summer cut "I'm on One" and his big breakout track, 2010's "Over."

Drake's Club Paradise Tour Kickoff Concert on Valentine's Day in Miami
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

Then it was time for an intimate moment.

The rapper waved for a break and his band (two guitar guys, twin keyboard players, a live drummer, and DJ) went silent.

But the superfans just wouldn't stop screeching. Well, at least until they were on the edge of passing out from lack of oxygen to the brain.

So when the screamers paused to breathe, Drake spoke. "I'd like to welcome you to Club Paradise," he crooningly croaked, "I go by the name Drizzy Drake." And the screaming resumed.

 

Drake's Club Paradise Tour Kickoff Concert on Valentine's Day in Miami
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

Dressed as if he'd just rolled off the Take Care album cover, wearing all black (dress shirt, jeans, sneakers) and a modestly gaudy amount of gold around his throat, Drake quickly cut through "Go" and "She Will" before breaking away for another exchange with "his people."

Drake: "How many of y'all drinkin' with me tonight?"

Mob: [Scream]

Drake: "That's what's up."

Mob: [Scream]

Drake: "Well, for anyone who hasn't had a drink yet, I got a song for you."

And predictably, Drizzy dropped "Shot for Me," sing-talking ("Girl, I can't lie, I miss you/You and the music were the only things that I'd commit to/I never cheated, for the record, back when I was with you") while thousands of frenzied females echoed each word.

Drake's Club Paradise Tour Kickoff Concert on Valentine's Day in Miami
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

Honestly, we here at Crossfade have never ever witnessed this kind of superintense teeny-bopper-type reaction to a rapper.

We have seen lots of howling, partial nudity, fist fights, and other rowdy behavior in the club. But last night, Drizzy caused the type of sweetly irrational spazzing out that's usually associated with, uh, New Kids on the Block, Justin Timberlake, or the Biebz.

His "people" swooned when he posed at the edge of the stage, gazing meaningfully into the distance. They cheered when he handed the mike stand to a roadie. And they groveled helplessly, "No, no, no, no, no," when he momentarily slipped backstage after singing, "Forever."

Drake's Club Paradise Tour Kickoff Concert on Valentine's Day in Miami
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

WTF is up?

Well, even though he occasionally raps about fucking, hitting the strip club, and dying for his niggas, Drake isn't actually "hard" or "street" or "thuggish." He's still essentially that multitalented teen entertainer who got his start by playing the cute kid in a wheelchair on Degrassi: The Next Generation.

Homie's got romantic roughneck charm. He's a PG-13 star in an R-rated movie. He's a sensitive bad boy who comes from a good family. He's the introspective player with a melancholy streak and an unrequited yearning for meaningful relationships. He's got the face of a soulful 16-year-old manchild. He's young-ish, clean, and just tough enough.

He is boyfriend material.

Drake's Club Paradise Tour Kickoff Concert on Valentine's Day in Miami
Photo by Marta Xochilt Perez

Plus, Drake's got game.

He raps and sings. He knows how to punctuate a sentence with a smile. He writes love-y songs like "Make Me Proud" designed to hypnotize with slightly dirty sweet talk: "I know things get hard/But girl, you got it ... Wondering what's on your mind/It must be hard to be that fine/When all these motherfuckers wanna waste your time/It's just amazing, girl/And all I can say is ... I'm so proud of you."

As every good boyfriend knows, you gotta give your lady some praise. And Drizzy took a whole ten minutes near the end of last night's show to shout out individual superfans, saying, "This is my favorite part of the show. Turn up the lights so I can see my people one time."

He complimented his "ladies" on their shirts and hair and signs and boobs and enthusiasm. And then after another quick and dirty burst of Take Care tracks -- "Practice," "HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)," "The Motto," "Headlines" -- he said goodnight and insisted that it'd been his "best show ever," telling every female in the joint that he loved her.

"I'd like to thank you for buying a ticket to Club Paradise."

Critic's Notebook

The Crowd: Swooning, screaming, spazzing superfans with their boyfriends and mothers; mature-and-sexy lovers; sex professionals selling V-Day specials; and Cash Money's Birdman. Also, Drake's mom and dad.

Drake's Setlist:

-"Lord Knows"

-"Underground Kings"

-"I'm on One"

-"Over"

-"The Zone"

-"She Will"

-"Shot for Me"

-"We'll Be Fine"

-"Forever"

-"Marvin's Room"

-"Take Care"

-"Cameras"

-"Uptown"

-"Miss Me"

-"Look What You've Done"

-"Fancy"

-"Make Me Proud"

-"Practice"

-"HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)"

-"The Motto"

-"Headlines"

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BankUnited Center

1245 Dauer Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33146

305-284-8686

www.bankunitedcenter.com


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