Drake, the hot rapper from Canada who has a sold-out Bogart’s show Friday, has an unusual background. Aubrey Drake Graham (his full name) first became known as an actor, playing Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi: The Next Generation before becoming a favorite of Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Eminem and Jay-Z.
Fittingly, in Francis and the Lights, Drake has picked an equally unusual opening act.
FatL are not rappers but rather a mixture of New Romantic, Neo Soul crooning — think mid-1980s British Pop elegance a la Bryan Ferry, Spandau Ballet, Human League, Blow Monkeys and ABC — with sexy post-Prince (and maybe post-Antony) falsetto singing accompanied by synth-infused, heavily percussive Modern Rock.
Singer Francis Farewell Starlite (pictured) certainly knows how to make an impression — he has a moody Rockabilly-sculpted pompadour, dances like he’s studied James Brown and Michael Jackson, has been known to dress in black on stage and uses the houselights and shadows for dramatic effect
The group’s rise is being compared to Vampire Weekend’s, which went from being a bunch of Columbia University students to America’s favorite Indie Rock band. Francis and the Lights formed at Wesleyan University and, upon moving to New York City, have become affiliated with the hip Cantora Records, home to MGMT (Francis and the Lights previously toured with that band).
At Bogart’s, they probably will be previewing songs from the upcoming It’ll Be Better, the band’s first full-length after a couple EPs. It’s set for a July 20 release and the first single, “Darling, It’s Alright,” is a good example of Starlite’s simmering-to-explosive approach to Soul and Rock. Drake has also tapped him to contribute a (non-Rap) song to his upcoming Thank Me Later album, so this looks to be the summer of Francis and the Lights.
(Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.)