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The Weeknd at House of Blues 

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Record executives, take heed. Here's how a phenomenon is made in the 21st century: At the beginning of March 2011, The Weeknd was an Internet apparition with two shady YouTube creations. By month's end, a self-released, first-one's-free online LP (don't-call-it-a-mixtape House of Balloons) and a few canny ties to Toronto homeboy Drake had legitimized the hype. By year's end, prolific singer/songwriter/statutory offender Abel Tesfaye had achieved independent and mainstream saturation, releasing two more full-length albums (Lord of the Drug Ring sequels Thursday and Echoes of Silence), swapping back scratches with Drake (thank him later) and getting called the next MJ by MTV. Meanwhile, those first two black-and-white tracks, Balloons' "What You Need" and "Wicked Games," had garnered more than 6 million hits (now up to 13 million and counting). What separates Tesfaye from other web grow-a-bunnies like iamamiwhoami is that his captivating, less-is-more aura is underwritten by an actual cache of more-is-more songs, skin-crawlers "Life of the Party" and "XO/The Host" conjuring a sinful indie rock and R&B affair: How to Undress Well. Tickets $30-$75. — Noah Bonaparte Pais

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