Review

Coachella 2015: Drake finds redemption on his own

Coachella 2015: No Madonna? No worries, Drake thrilled on his own. And was better for it.

During his closing set at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on Sunday night, Drake made it clear he didn’t come armed with a scene-stealing special guest this time.

“I came out here to handle business by myself," he said a third of the way through the show, an admission that constituted something of a letdown for fans compared with what happened during the festival's first weekend.

For the unaware, a week ago Drake was visited by Madonna, whose likeness inspired a standout cut on his recent album. She then sealed the guest appearance by planting a massive, Internet-breaking kiss on the befuddled rapper.

FULL COVERAGE: Coachella 2015

The kiss was one of those “only at Coachella” moments that have turned the dual-weekend experience into a race to see which act will bring out the best guest. Festivalgoers have come to expect these moments so much, that the speculation ran rampant throughout the weekend.

Would it be Kanye West, who dropped in the previous night with the Weeknd? Or Beyonce, who has an unreleased collaboration with Drake and was already spotted on the grounds (she was seen watching FKA Twigs and David Guetta). Or even Rihanna?

The answer, however, was none of the above. Drake’s set on Sunday largely served as a reminder of the benefit of a double weekend of the festival.

Given the shock and awe of “the kiss,” Drake's show during the first weekend felt off, and the set's emphasis on his introspective balladry made for a moodier show. The audience seemed dissatisfied and apart from its viral moment felt like an otherwise unremarkable performance, a rarity for Drake.

Playing a slightly altered set on Sunday, the emphasis was less on creating a mood or presenting big ideas, and more on the hits -– and a set of nonstop hits will usually satisfy a crowd of nearly 100,000.

“Nah, this is the … weekend,” he proclaimed early on, barely able to contain the grin that crept across his face after he delivered a string of his bounciest club hits. “You want me to slow it down or should I keep the train moving?”

And kept it moving he did, tearing through verse after verse.

Even when things slowed, as it did with “Find Your Love,” he didn’t let things settle, switching up the melody for a reggae groove and a wink toward the “holiday” that stoners would be celebrating the next day.

With a tighter set, Drake appeared more urgent and the crowd more engaged. Even the onstage jungle, where he stood atop a leafy grotto at one point, felt less like a smaltzy attempt to create drama and more of a playground to create spectacle. It worked, especially as he ran around the foilage during his rowdier cuts that make for weekend bro anthems.

Still, this is Coachella and the unexpected was bound to happen.

During a run-through of his guest verse on Nicki Minaj’s current banger, “Truffle Butter,” Minaj appeared in the flesh.

She wasn’t there to make out with Drake, however, or even rap her verse. Instead, strutted out — fiercely, of course — before retreating backstage.

Drake beckoned for Minaj to come back, and she did. He congratulated her on her rumored engagement and the two embraced after he assured the crowd that despite reported beefs within their Young Money crew the two of them were good.

After Minaj disappeared as quickly as she had arrived, Drake needed a moment to catch his breath.

Unlike the "only at Coachella" moments that adds excitement to the weekend, this wasn't a planned part of the show. And what's a better surprise than one that catches the performer off guard as well?  

For more music news follow me on Twitter: @gerrickkennedy

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