The-Dream has played only twice before in the Bay Area—once opening for Mary J. Blige and Jay-Z at the Oakland Arena, and once opening for Keyshia Cole at the Paramount Theatre. Finally, on Thursday night at the New Parish in Oakland, he headlined here, and played a nearly two-hour set with a live three-piece band. The show was tremendous. The-Dream’s been on tour for a while now—Jay-Z and Beyoncé showed up to his tour opener in NYC—and at this point he’s totally honed his set.
From the opening notes to the last bass hit, the show was one huge party, with a room full of fans reveling in song after perfectly crafted song. On the floor, grinding. Up in the VIP, ass-shaking. On stage, ruling it. For two hours, the entire club was awash in sweet release. You think I exaggerate, don’t you? Well, watch this video.
“I’ve had this Oakland cap on since I started this tour,” said The-Dream, pointing to his Raiders cap. “I remember. I don’t forget shit.” It was Oakland, he explained, that embraced his songs early on. His set spanned his first two albums, mostly, and pretty much ignored the vastly dull but critically praised Love King. “Shawty Is the Shit” was a perfect opener—those stories about never being able to hear the Beatles live, because of teenage girls screaming so loud? Yeah—and within 25 minutes we got “Nikki,” “Falsetto,” and a slowed-down “I Luv Ur Girl” that exploded the joint.
Radio Killa signee Casha joined Dream for “Hit the Lights,” his latest single, and then worked the stage solo to perform her Denice Williams cover of “Silly.” It was weird enough to include the song on his free album 1977, and a set-killer in the live show; the monitors must have been dead, because Casha sang it flat. (Other so-so choices: token versions of “Gangsta Luv” and “Throw it in the Bag,” the Snoop and Fabolous hits that Dream guested on, and a cover of LoveRance’s “Beat the Pussy Up.”)
“Walkin’ on the Moon” contained a brief Michael Jackson tribute, “Love King” was the one and only song performed from Love King, 1977‘s “Used to Be” scathed with fierce passion, and the epic “Fancy” was all backlight and mood, erupting with drummer Charles Chaffer’s entrance in the song. Even though just a three-piece, The-Dream’s band replicated his songs perfectly, and ably took cues from their leader when to deviate from the arrangements.
Between songs, The-Dream himself seemed energized by the love from the sold-out crowd. “Purple Kisses,” awash in purple lights, led into a spoken interlude:
“In case you forgot what kind of records these are… these are records to fuck to,” he said. “If your life is hard, if things ain’t goin right, you just ain’t fuckin’ the right bitch. Girls, you too. If things aint goin right, you just aint fuckin’ the right nigga. It’s that easy. I ain’t been fuckin the right bitch for the last two years. You could tell. So instead I wrote songs that made it sound like I was fuckin’ the right bitch.”
The-Dream has a new album out this summer, and based on the two new singles and the raw intensity of this tour, it’ll be incredible. After infamous snubs from the music industry and the threat of retirement, his return is welcome indeed—just ask the dedicated group of fans chanting for “Put it Down,” even after the lights came up and the exhausted crowd started filing out.
Love vs. Money Pt. II Intro
Shawty is the Shit
Kill the Lights (w/ Casha)
I Luv Your Girl
Walkin’ on the Moon
Right Side of My Brain
Throw it In the Bag
Beat the Pussy Up
Used to Be
Rockin’ That Shit
Let Me See the Booty