PHOTO : ROBERT KENNEDY , SOLOTECH
THE WEEKND ’ S AFTER HOURS ‘ TIL DAWN TOUR AT METLIFE STADIUM IN NEW JERSEY
By Kevin Young
THE WEEKND ’ S
After Hours ‘ Til Dawn Tour
A SPECTACULAR DYSTOPIAN RIDE
Abel Makkonen Tesfaye , a . k . a . The Weeknd , was born and raised in Toronto and began his music career in 2009 . He ’ s since become both a huge critical and commercial success that only grew upon the release of his fifth studio album , Dawn FM , in January 2022 . He ’ s now one of the world ’ s most popular and best-selling artists , with over 75 million records sold .
Given that , when it came to heading out on his latest tour , fans expected something spectacular . Frankly , they got that and then some with the After Hours ‘ Til Dawn Tour , which wrapped up with a two-night hometown stint on Sept . 22 nd and 23 rd at Toronto ’ s 45,000-seat Rogers Centre stadium .
Production for the tour was very much reliant on the topics and atmosphere of Dawn FM . As The Weeknd put it in an interview with Billboard in 2021 : “ Picture the album being like the listener is dead . And they ’ re stuck in this purgatory state , which I always imagined would be like being stuck in traffic waiting to reach the light at the end of the tunnel . And while you ’ re stuck in traffic , they got a radio station playing in the car , with a radio host guiding you to the light and helping you transition to the other side . So , it could feel celebratory , could feel bleak , however you want to make it feel , but that ’ s what The Dawn is for me .”
Solotech was tapped to provide the video , lighting , and rigging solutions for that ‘ Dawn ’ – a tour that ’ s huge in scope , featuring massive staging and set pieces , and a narrative that plays out in a way that – as large as the tour and venues in play are – is meant to deepen The Weeknd ’ s ability to connect personally with his audience . Consequently , the innovative stage design takes up a vast portion of the venue ’ s floor .
Unsurprisingly , there ’ s a lot to cover ; something we took up with Lighting Designer Jason Baeri and Screens Producer Loren Barton , both of whom worked on The Weeknd ’ s 2015 tour and other dates since then . ( Obviously , they ’ re part of a much larger team – a group including Production Manager Rob DeCeglio , Production Designer Es Devlin , Scenic Design Producer Jason Ardizzone-West , Creative Director La Mar Taylor , Tour Manager Matt Petroff , and 3D Visuals Designer Polina Zakh / Sila Sveta .)
Baeri explains that he and Barton have worked alongside each other for over a decade , adding that the pair share a language that allows them to work very well together to achieve a unified vision . “ Loren was instrumental in helping with the lighting part of [ this tour ]. I rarely put something on paper without bouncing it off him ,” Baeri notes .
For his part , Barton describes their approach as “ tag-teaming the technical visual design ,”
18 | Winter 2022