On June 22, Anderson Paak launched Portland's first summer weekend at McMenamins Edgefield. From his drum set, Paak led his yellow-clad band, the Free Nationals, and backup singers, while pyrotechnics fired and lasers swayed in time with their rhythm. Wearing a wavy, orange and white shirt, bejeweled sunglasses and a highlighter-yellow bucket hat, Paak descended his multimedia stage and howled to the twilight moon with the audience. Thus began the race to claim the sound of summer 2019.
The sold-out show was a high-energy dance party from beginning to end. Even the furthest edges of the lawn bobbed and swayed. At one point, Paak left the stage, still singing, and walked to those furthest edges where he kept perfect social media distance as fans rushed to greet him.
Paak alternated between leading from his drum set and dancing center stage, choosing mostly bangers, but picking enough slow jams to keep the audience from getting overwhelmed. It's not easy to keep a crowd that size engaged for that long, but Paak made it seem effortless. His show was a full sensory experience. The stage shot sparks, confetti and fireworks while projecting visuals from a giant red mouth to an anime coastline and an African diaspora collage. Homage was paid to the late Nipsey Hussle and Mac Miller.
The only way to improve this show would have been to have the Last Artful Dodgr join Paak onstage for "Anywhere," but he still made sure to give the Portland rapper a shout-out. Still, Anderson Paak and the Free Nationals used the first day of summer to stake their claim as one of the best shows of the season, if not the year.