“You can’t be me, I’m a rock star” sang uber-producer-cum-frontman Pharrell Williams on N*E*R*D’s 2002 single ‘Rock Star,’ and on Wednesday night, he did everything in his power to prove it. Playing a private show for York University students, Pharrell and the rest of N*E*R*D – short for No One Ever Really Dies – turned the sparse surroundings of a former air force hanger in Toronto’s Downsview Park into a warehouse rave, complete with booty-shaking dancers, swooning under-age ladies and a kick-ass soundtrack that managed to seamlessly blend punk, hip-hop, MOR soft-rock and jazz under the guidance of the ever personable Williams. The night kicked off with local live remixers Keys N Krates warming up the crowd with their reconstructed takes on songs by Dr. Dre and Justice. They were soon followed by former Thunderheist MC Isis, who played a rare gig with a full six-piece band. The room really began to sweat when Williams arrived onstage, sending the collegiate co-eds into a tizzy with opening number ‘Everyone Nose.’

Flanked by two dancers, the man responsible for some of the last decade’s biggest hits spoke to the crowd about the group’s refusal to pump out radio hits on the group’s upcoming fourth album, ‘Nothing.’ “We put our blood sweat and tears into this. We go against what radio wants us to do. We go against that s—!” the singer exclaimed. “We try to make music that gets you through the day.” True to form, the group managed to mix in the new, less ‘radio-friendly’ songs amongst a slew of crowd pleasers — which included hits ‘Maybe,’ ‘Lapdance,’ ‘Run To The Sun,’ ‘She Likes To Move‘ and the aforementioned ‘Rock Star.’ The first of which, the new album’s title track, sounded surprisingly reminiscent of ‘Waiting for the Sun‘-era Doors, complete with organ-heavy explosion chorus. The group soon followed with another laidback new track entitled ‘I See The Light‘ which saw the unlikely pairing of ’60s English balladry verse with an ’80s soft-rock chorus.

With the new songs out of the way, Williams‘ rock star tendencies returned. Spotting a group of excitable teens in the front row celebrating a birthday, the singer crooned a special happy birthday, replacing the lyric usually reserved for a name with the lyrics ‘fine white Canadian girl, I wish I could kiss you.’ Later in the evening Williams decided he wanted to up the ante and, upon spotting a well-endowed fan in the front, proceeded to ‘air motorboat’ — look it up, kids — the excitable woman before inviting a slew of young ladies onstage to alternately lapdance and grind with him. The evening came to a close in fitting manner, with the group covering LMFAO’s ‘Shots‘ — ironic considering no alcohol was allowed in the music part of venue — before leaving the stage to attend to the aforementioned ladies, thanks to Aaron.


N*E*R*D – Nothing (November 2nd)
* Hot-N-Fun feat. Nelly Furtado
* Party People
* Help Me
* Make You Feel Good
* Victory
* You’re So Perfect
* I’ve Seen The Light
* You’re The One
* Fuego
* For Sure
* The Man
* God Blessed Us All
* Perfect Defect
* Nothin’ On You
* The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
* In The Air
* Nothing (Added New)

N*E*R*D – Nothing (Studio Session)
* Show Me Some Love
* Radio
(+ 25 Tracks)

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