Wait…is Jack Harlow flirting with me? Was a recurring thought during the rapper’s 90 min set at Toronto’s Coca-Cola Coliseum on October 5th. He was in fact flirting with all the girls in the 7,000-plus crowd, a true testament to his charisma and ongoing chokehold on the female population. The fever pitch came after he performed “21C/Delta”, pausing to tell the crowd that Vancouver had the best energy so far but….“I don’t know if those British Colombians are f*cking with y’all man,” he said erupting screams from the audience. Nothing like a little friendly competition between provinces to get things going. “You know, if I’m being honest I’ve been here a few times now. I could see myself spending a year of my life in Toronto,” he said with a smirk as the Gen Z screams behind me only got louder. “I could see myself getting a little Airbnb or something and finding a situation out here,” he teasingly continued as if all the girls in the audience were potential suitors for his season of The Bachelor: Toronto. “Because surely all of you know where I’m gonna end up right? Where I’m going to raise my family? Surely, all of you know where my heart resides deep down.” Points for managing expectations and making it clear to his suitors that it’s not a forever ting but also cleverly planting the seed that he wants to have a family and settle down one day—every contestant’s first question on The Bachelor. “Because uh….bitch I’m from Kentucky but this ain’t no f*ckin’ Dixie Chicks / This is not Route 66 / She step out take like fifty flicks,” he answered rapping the intro to “Route 66” making his flirt an effortless transition into the next song. Bravo Jack, strategic and personal—just one of several pauses throughout the show to flirt, sorry I mean engage, with his audience.
The show started off with “Talk Of The Town” from Harlow’s new album, Come Home The Kids Miss You, and quickly went into fan favorites performing “Dua Lipa” and “Tyler Herro” early on, letting the audience scream popular lyrics for parts of the songs. He had a great stage presence, rapping bar for bar while moving around the stage to interact with various sections of the crowd and bending down to stare directly into the camera projected on multiple screens. Love a man who knows his angles. The transitions for the mashup of “Sundown / Warsaw / Thru The Night / Ghost” were immaculate, a theme Harlow carried throughout the night never allowing for awkward pauses. But would you really expect anything less from the man that concludes a Met Gala interview with “lova ya” rather than the regular niceties? The correct and only answer is no. The largest unknown of the night was whether or not Drake would make an appearance to perform “Churchill Downs” with Harlow and sadly he did not. Drake was, however, in the audience and got a special shout-out during Harlow’s closing remarks. Pointing out Drake’s attendance, Harlow said “I will never touch a Toronto stage without saying some sort of f*cking words for the legend, Drizzy Drake, I know he’s up here in the cut somewhere. This has been the biggest year of my career by far, and being able to build a real relationship with him and make music with him has meant the world to me. Toronto one more time I need you to give it up to the greatest of all time, Drizzy Drake.”
Harlow did not have any outfit changes but he did have a set change. After “Churchill Downs”, the main screen lit up with a video of him driving to a house with an empty passenger seat. Empty so all the girls in the audience could envision themselves shotgun? Perhaps, the Harlow effect works just as well covertly as it does overtly. When the video cuts, the screen lifts to reveal an open garage set-up, complete with a live band, basketball hoop, and hose—playing into the “come home” theme of his tour. After playing “Nail Tech”, “Like a Blade of Grass”, and “I’d Do Anything to Make You Smile” it was time for another flirt intermission. “You know what? I think it’s time for us to play a game Toronto,” he cheekily said. Game? What game? I love games are the thought bubbles I envisioned popping up as girls screamed pick me before knowing what the game was. The way he kept addressing the crowd with “Toronto” somehow felt personal as if he was speaking to you individually and not a city with almost 3 million people. In true Harlow form, he invited three girls up from the audience to try and shoot their shot, into the basketball hoop not his heart, for a chance to win merch and concert tickets to any city.
The first and youngest contestant, Shayla, got the basket on her first try earning herself a big hug from Harlow. The second contestant, Gabriella, whispered something to Harlow onstage. “She just told me she’s much better with the ball at her feet, she’s a soccer player,” he said to the crowd. “So why you go like this then?” he asked imitating her raised hand with a smile, “You got this, I believe in you, you’re an athlete, period.” Cheeky! Charming! Encouraging! Gabriella’s turn was less a display of athleticism and more a display of Harlow’s supportive boyfriend potential as he encouraged her to no avail.
If anyone in the floor crowd was feeling hot, from the body heat of those around them, or you know the Harlow effect, it wouldn’t be for long. But first, he performed “I Wanna See Some Ass” with vocal support from the crowd. Hip-hop concerts are the only place you can scream “I wanna see some ass” professionally and it’s not an HR issue, I thought to myself. Next, Harlow picked up the hose hanging on the side of the garage and “accidentally” sprayed the crowd. “I am so sorry, I apologize for that, they didn’t tell me they put water in it tonight,” he said profusely. The screaming girls did not seem to mind Harlow getting them wet—literally. He tried all the various nozzle settings on the garden hose going from a light “mist” to a heavy “jet” before finally putting it away. His playful display definitely conjured up visions of him as a firefighter for Harloween amongst more than a few concertgoers.
“Quick question, who is in here with their best friend tonight?” He said initiating another clever transition. “When I say best friend, I’m talking about your day one bitch,” he continued holding up the number 1 with his index finger. “I’m talking about the girl you send pics to and she helps you decide what to post. I’m talking about the girl you know would never f*ck your boyfriend—never.” Kudos to this man for knowing his demographic, the “best friend” descriptors earned the loudest screams of the night and the crowd sang every word for the conversation portion of “Already Best Friends”. Naturally, he saved his bangers for the end of his set closing with “Industry Baby”, “What’s Poppin”, and “First Class”. Aside from being a certified flirt on tour, his concert gave fans exactly what they wanted—a personalized and immersive experience that streaming can’t compare to. The live band added depth to his beats while his intermissions and transitions brought his on-screen personality to life confirming that he is just as charming in person.
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