Ever wonder what it’s like to be in a cult? Aside from the two weeks I was a Scientologist, (an experiment gone horribly wrong) the Yeezus show was the most culty I have ever felt. I was ready to buy $700 leather jogging pants and follow Kanye into his private bunker at Area 51. He totally has one there. The images of clouds and naked girls projected onto this sphere atop the Agro Crag were undeniably entrancing. Okay, maybe that’s a little much, but I was thoroughly entertained. I’ve never loved a musician’s music so much and been so completely dumbfounded by his life. Anyone else think he was totally coked up on Jimmy Kimmel when he was yammering about the media? I have no idea what’s happening in his brain but there’s no denying he is pure entertainment.
I bought a $12 beer and saw about five people I knew before Kanye took the stage. The merchandise was interesting. My friends bought a few concert shirts. I really liked a tote bag that had the Confederate flag on it, but you know, no one else would know it was from the Yeezus tour and think I was a flat out racist. I did end up buying a bootleg shirt for $10 after the show complete with a Kendrick graphic on the back that says “Please Don’t Kill My Vibe.”
“Burial” played through the sound system after Kendrick’s ”meh” performance. As soon as the lights dimmed everyone went nuts. A giant fake mountain lit up and twelve girls wearing sheer bodysuits walked on stage before Kanye emerged to “On Sight.” What happened for the next 2 ½ hours was a spectacle that catered more to Kanye, than the crowd. He wore bejeweled Mexican wrestling masks for the majority of the night. The twelve girls appeared intermittently to do weird yoga poses and become a bed to carry Kanye off stage at one point.
This wasn’t the best show I’ve seen. It could never compete with Roger Waters performing Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety at 2008 Coachella. The sound at Yeezus wasn’t great, and I didn’t love some of the odd versions of songs he chose to perform. His version of “Stronger” was the most disappointing. It was missing the signature loud Daft Punk sound and Kanye went through the lyrics like it was a church sermon. In fact, most of the show felt very Christian.
Jesus was there, a spotlight emerged from the ceiling, and he ranted for about 30% of the show, which gave me flashbacks of Def Poetry Jam. I was expecting a choir to emerge from the giant mountain and bust out that “Joyful Joyful” song from Sister Act. The most successful cult leaders have incarnated themselves as a God. Kanye isn’t far from taking on that persona.
Did I mention the Yeti with glowing red eyes following him up the mountain? Yeah, that happened.
I couldn’t help notice the feeling of disconnect between Kanye and the crowd. His masks definitely had something to do with it. I didn’t see him acknowledge the crowd until a few songs in. He did ask us, “Y’all like when I talk my shit yes or no?” like ten times. I yelled back with, “sometimes, I guess.” Later in the show he was yelling something about not being Michael Jordan while sitting atop the fake mountain. During “I am a God,” a hilarious concert goer threw a croissant when Ye said the line, “Hurry up with my damn croissant!” I wish I had thought of that. Brilliant.
After he ranted for fifteen minutes about corporations, he busted out an amazing performance of “Blood on the Leaves.” There was fire coming out of the mountain! My favorite moment of the show, however, was the intro to “Runaway.” Jesus brought a white podium on the stage and Kanye played the first note of the song. People lost their shit. He walked around the stage in a cloak before running back to the podium and playing the next note. He stepped back again and people screamed even louder. It was actually very funny. I felt like Kanye was laughing inside his disco ball mask the whole time. He walked back for the third time and played the rest of the song. Staples Center turned into a giant dance party. His set list was great. Some highlights were “Through the Wire,” “Flashing Lights,” “All of the Lights,” “Jesus Walks,” “Power,” “Heartless,” and “Good Life.”
The most perplexing thing about Kanye’s show is he conceptualized the entire production, and in his mind it made perfect sense.