Toronto hip-hop artist, NAV, performed in front of a sold out hometown crowd, delivering one of the best shows of 2023 so far. Here’s our Never Sleep tour review.
Thousands of fans gathered at the Scotiabank Arena is downtown Toronto as Rexdale’s NAV closed out his Never Sleep tour in front of sold out hometown crowd. NAV’s ascension to touring artist who can pack out stadiums and arenas is as much a testament to his own hardwork and talent as it is the continued growth of Toronto and Canadian music.
Opening the night was fellow Toronto artist Realest K who impressed with both his melodic hip-hop performance and his The Weeknd-esque R&B vocals. Next, Grand Rapids, Michigan artist SoFaygo, accompanied by his DJ, Backwoods, brought a high energy performance to the stage. While some lament the decline of the live performance among younger artists, SoFaygo is a good performer who does a good job of interacting with the crowd.
Finally, TJ Banks, NAV’s tour DJ took some time to preview an unreleased The Weeknd track which got the crowd stirring with excitement. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the main event came to an abrupt opening as NAV was seen on a platform above the stage.
Even before the show began, NAV’s impact can be seen as the crowd, with heavy Indian representation, entered the building. As the first Indian star in mainstream hip-hop, he has given visibility to an underrepresented community in the culture. The impact of having someone at the highest level who looks like them can’t be understated.
NAV opened his set with the tour’s namesake track “Never Sleep” which immediately put the crowd in a frenzy. Throughout his set, he went back and forth between performing newer tracks and doing a deep dive into his catalogue, with songs like “Baby”, “Know Me”, and the Lil Uzi Vert collabs “Dead Shot” and “Wanted You”.
What sets NAV apart from his peers as a young performer is not only his ability to not use his backing track as a crutch or to put on a lazy, half-baked show, but his more heartful and sentimental songs which are peppered throughout his catalogue. “Myself”, “Held Me Down”, and “Call Me”. Although he can give you the same stereotypical hip-hop content, he’s also an artist with substance and thoughtfulness and it’s quite refreshing see and hear when he gets in that bag.
But what really put the show over the top and made it one of the best shows of 2023 so far was the surprise guest appearances. First, there was Meek Mill who appeared to perform “Tap” alongside their family, one of NAV’s biggest songs to date. He stuck around to perform his most well-known solo track to date, “Dreams and Nightmares” at the request of NAV.
Then an energetic Lola Brooke performed her hit song “Don’t Play With It”. To round out the guest appearances, Travis Scott seemingly appeared out of nowhere as he and NAV performed “Champion”. He stuck around to perform a medley of some of his biggest hits which got the biggest crowd pop of the night, including “Antidote”, and “Sicko Mode”, before NAV closed out with “Turks”.
While the stage setup wasn’t very over the top compared to artists like Justin Bieber Kanye West, the lighting and video package were very good and created a sense of grandeur that elevated the quality of the performances. He should be commended for the level care he puts both in his music and his live show. If the backstage videos which have been posted on social media are any indication, this specific hometown show meant a lot to him and that was evident on stage as well.
Looking back at his career, you can’t help but root for NAV as he completes his Never Sleeps arena tour. From the streets of Rexdale to hip-hop star in America, he should be commended for defying the odds, not only as a Canadian but as a Punjabi-Canadian. He’s an inspiration to everyone that a normal kid from our city and country was able to ascend to the highest level in music.
Overall, as I said before, with its energy and hometown homecoming, this was easily one of the best shows of 2023 so far, providing that excitement and sense of wonder about what NAV will do next.
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