“We can’t go forward without going back a little bit,” The-Dream told his horde of fans, who were packed inside U Street Music Hall in Washington, D.C. on Monday night. He had just opened his long-winded set with “Bedroom,” which is lifted from his latest project Ménage à Trois: Sextape Vol. 1, 2, 3.
Before that, his DJ had warmed up the crowd with a fire medley of some of his own songs (“Make Up Bag,” “Put It Down”) and songs he wrote for other artists like Beyoncé (“***Flawless”), Rihanna (“Umbrella”) and Ciara (“Ride”), to name a few.
Wasting no time, The-Dream kept the grown and sexy mood going with “IV Play,” the title track to his 2013 album. He wasn’t alone on stage either. He brought out an exotic dancer (Robyn Nora) who showcased her alluring moves on and off the pole throughout the night.
Although there were some limitations with the low ceiling, Nora improvised and flawlessly executed moves that were fitting for seductive tunes that The-Dream was singing, including his 2007 hit “Falsetto” and another Sextape track“Challenger.”
“Let’s go back to the beginning,” The-Dream suggested before his DJ played his debut single “Shawty Is Da Shit.” “Shawty, rock to the beat for your boy,” the crowd roared, nearly drowning out The-Dream’s vocals from the speakers.
Taking a trip down memory lane was an instant reminder of how many hits (and highly underrated gems) The-Dream has made over the last 12 years as an artist. If there’s one thing to appreciate about the 41-year-old singer/songwriter/producer, it’s the mere fact that he is very generous to his fans. He didn’t really take shortcuts during his set. He could have easily just performed songs from his 40-track Sextape, but he didn’t. He made it a priority to please his day-one fans with songs that they know like the back of their hand.
“Purple Kisses,” a deep cut and fan-favorite from his LoveHate debut, was one of the special treats of the night. “I know y’all thought I wasn’t going to do this one,” The-Dream said after crooning the luscious tune. He admitted to Billboard in 2017 that, although it’s one of his favorite bedroom jams he made, he doesn’t perform it enough.
The-Dream is affectionately known for his love songs, which is why he crowns himself as The Love King. But, even kings have their ‘ratchet’ moments — and he proved it last night. He rocked the crowd with some of his signature upbeat bangers including “Let Me See the Booty,” “Rockin’ That Shit” and “Ditch That…”
Overall, The-Dream’s delivered a very passionate performance in D.C. that left me on a musical high — though, some fans left on a musical and a marijuana high from what I smelled. He showed that an artist doesn’t need an elaborate stage setup or even a live band to put on a quality show. Besides a few cameos from his dancer and his DJ stationed to the side, it was mostly just The-Dream on stage connecting with his fans on an intimate level.