Among the stars, Drake still shined the brightest.
In an all-white outfit, the multi-Grammy winner had many concertgoers jostling for position to watch him perform at the Super Bowl eve party dubbed “Homecoming Weekend” on Saturday night. He made a dramatic entrance, darting down an aisle before performing center stage under an airy tent at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, California.
"I wanted guests to have an experience like they get here, they're coming in, and then there's a big reveal," said h.wood Co-founder John Terzian of the event. "The reveal is the most insane event you've ever seen. It's a party. It's escapism, we're not corporate, we're a party, and I think we've achieved that."
The crowd included many entertainers and athletes: Issa Rae, a mask-wearing Mike Tyson, Lil Wayne, Paul Pierce, Derrick Henry, Ricky Gervais, Jon Hamm, Nicole Scherzinger, Cedric the Entertainer, Karrueche Tran and Flava Flav.
Get Southern California news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC LA newsletters.
While waiting for Drake, attendees mingled for a couple hours. Once he arrived, many flocked toward the stage and pulled out their phones to capture his 45-minute set.
"It was unbelievable," said Zack Bia, who was on stage for Drake's performance and DJ'd after it. "This is a historic weekend for us. Hosting the Super Bowl and the whole nine. I think everyone felt really special to be there."
Drake told the crowd that he was initially asked to deliver around five songs, but felt compelled to triple that amount because of where he traveled from.
Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.
“They flew me out of like three feet of snow for this, so I got to perform for you,” said Drake, who went on to perform bangers including “No Friends in the Industry” and “Girls Want Girls” from his recent album “Certified Lover Boy.”
The rap star talked about being able to perform in person and showed appreciation to everyone in attendance.
“I’m sure at one point we’re all sitting at home – maybe a little depressed, maybe a little frustrated, maybe a little confused,” he said. “I want to make a toast to how grateful I am for being in this (expletive) room with each and every one of you. I wasn’t sure how and when we would be able to do this again. But cheers to each and everyone of you. More life.”
Drake went on to perform hits including “Controlla,” “God’s Plan,” “Too Much” and “Passionfruit.” He surprised the crowd with a guest appearance by Future, who performed “Way 2 Sexy” with Drake before his uber-popular “March Madness.”
At the end, Drake paid homage to Lil Wayne – who watched from a VIP section – before closing out his set by playing “I Will Always Love You,” the Dolly Parton song that Whitney Houston made famous. He sang every word along with many in the crowd.
Proof of vaccination was required of the 1,500 guests. Only a few wore masks, including Tyson.
The “Homecoming Weekend” show helped cap a full week of entertainment events leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, the first in the Los Angeles area in nearly three decades, with the hometown Rams facing off against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Justin Bieber sang and danced on the first night of the event, hosted by The h.wood Group and REVOLVE, presented by PLACES.CO, Flow.com, and Confirmed 360, and produced by Uncommon Entertainment.
"Having Justin get on stage and just blow it away was amazing," said Terzian who designed a circular center stage for the venue with the help of Drake's team. "The center stage was a mind blowing experience. Nobody had a bad table or a bad view."
Staffers were dressed in football uniforms, making the rounds with fancified versions of stadium food, including plant-based chicken bites, garlic fries and tiny pizzas.
Miley Cyrus and Green Day performed across town at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.