After a long day, which consisted of car dealerships, driving tests, and the exhaustion of helping a sibling move out, it would eventually end in amazement after witnessing Anderson .Paak‘s ‘Malibu’ world tour at The Fillmore on Thursday night. On a beautiful evening in Silver Spring, MD, a diverse crowd began to fill up the venue around the 8 o’clock hour — all prepared to be swept off their feet by Anderson and The Free Nationals. Personally, I haven’t seen an audience pack the place out so early since ScHoolboy Q’s stop at The Fillmore for the ‘Oxymoron’ tour, which was awesome to see. It was an experience where the young and the old were able to enjoy the show in perfect harmony, and with one hope in mind — to dance the night away.
The crowd surely got their money’s worth plus more.
The festivities begun at 8:15 with a DJ set from Canadian producer, Pomo, who also produced the Anderson .Paak and ScHoolboy Q collab “Am I Wrong.” Setting the tone early, Pomo got the crowd warmed up and moving with bouncy, uptempo remixes. You know you’re in a for a good night when an opening act can kick the show off on a high note. The highlights of the 45-minute set included Janet Jackson’s “No Sleep”, Rihanna’s “Kiss It Better”, and even 112’s “Dance With Me” — that certainly won the crowd over quickly. I’m sure Pomo ended his night with more fans to add to his already impressive following. From observing the room, the energy felt destined to make the night a special one, and we weren’t even close to the show’s headliner.
That energy continued to spread as Pomo’s lush performance was balanced with Little Simz‘ grittiness. She took her time to feel the audience out with her first few songs, giving off an almost shy vibe. But the crowd was in love, and as Simz proceeded, her exuberance shined bright and she brought that interesting London feel to Silver Spring for the night. At one point, she began to play guitar for one of her songs and the crowd was sold. My friend who tagged along was one of them, saying “Oh, I love her. She’s awesome!” And before she left the stage, Little Simz had The Fillmore rocking with a banger, tossing water out into the crowd and turning up one last time. Little Simz is definitely someone to look out for in the future if you aren’t familiar. Her performance proved that.
Now it was time for Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals to conquer the night. Well, at least not before a brief intermission. And by brief, I mean about 30 minutes. After a few sips of crown royal and ginger (I’m not much of a drinker) and my draining day leading up to the show, I was more than ready to catch one of my favorite artists in action. During the break, the vigor from the previous sets seemed to simmer down a bit in The Fillmore as everyone waited patiently. But, before 10:30 came around, Anderson’s DJ came out and got the venue back in the mood to party as he played a few classics — from Jay Z’s “I Just Wanna Love You” to Usher’s “You Don’t Have to Call.”
At 10:27, The Free Nationals stepped on stage and got things started with “Milk & Honey” as Anderson .Paak sung from the side where no one could see him. When he finally revealed himself, The Fillmore audience went crazy and the energy was back to high levels. At the end of the first track, Anderson paused as the crowd applauded with excitement — he was obviously humbled and grateful as he reminded everyone that just a year ago, he was in this same venue as an opening act for Earl Sweatshirt’s tour. He engaged with the crowd, and, shortly after, The Fillmore was on full tilt with another cut from his ‘Venice‘ album, the hard-hitting “Drugs.” It’s one thing to see your favorite artists in Twitter/IG videos or to hear about their stage presence from peers, but Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals provide an experience unlike any other. It feels as if his rise to stardom was meant to be.
Thursday night, I was witnessing something special.
The show continued on with great vibes as Anderson performed for about an hour and 15 minutes — a little longer than I expected, but no complaints here. Between dancing around on stage or running over to kill it on the drums, Anderson .Paak went through a good portion of his breakout LP Malibu with much joy. His live show feels very intimate — like any good show should feel. Each song was performed with pure fun and plenty of reasons to bounce around. Trust me, there was a guy in front of us who was having the time of his life. Anderson .Paak’s music is full of heartfelt tales and groovy sounds, but in concert, he and The Free Nationals further expound the greatness of Venice and Malibu. If you were there or been to previous shows, then you’d understand.
With all of the fun Anderson .Paak brought to The Fillmore, there was also time to squeeze in a special guest — DC’s own Goldlink. The two on stage was an awesome moment — Goldlink’s goofy, yet entertaining presence kept the good times rolling as they performed their collab track “Unique.” The two embraced each other afterwards and Anderson went on to keep the party going. He took a moment to talk to the audience, but was constantly interrupted by members of The Free Nationals — a segway into “Come Down,” which got the crowd hype once again. Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals would mellow things out a bit towards the end of the night, giving off the feeling that the show would be coming to a close.
The lights cut off, and fans were headed out, but would soon be surprised as they returned with Malibu’s intro, “The Bird.” If there’s any indication of Anderson .Paak’s stardom, it would be after performing “The Bird” when a loving fan hopped on stage to give him a hug. While moments like those are usually a cause for worry, it was the icing on the cake for how great the entire show was. Hey, even Anderson was scared for a moment. But, things were all good and he closed out the night with a personal favorite, the aforementioned “Am I Wrong.”
Overall, the ‘Malibu’ tour is everything I expected…maybe more. From beginning to end, it was a party — a reason to let go of anything that happened before you stepped in to the venue. And, once again, my day was pretty long before the show. Pomo woke the crowd up early, Little Simz was the darling who had the place turned up, and Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals topped it off with so much soul and grace. That leads me to say this, and you feel free to disagree.
If anything were to happen to Anderson .Paak (God forbid), he’s a legend.
With that being said, will the ‘Malibu’ tour come through your city soon? Check the dates below to find out. And if so, it’s a party you don’t want to miss. Trust me!