On Wednesday night a ton of my friends went to see the Kanye West show in Oakland at the Oracle Arena, and while the Instagram feeds made the show look like a good time, the reviews from the show were mixed. At one point my buddy said “he did have a 30 min period in the middle of the show that was kinda boring, he was laying on the stage and seemed exhausted.” After I got done LOL-ing, I asked my friend Cassidy Blackwell to write up her thoughts as she wrote our last Kanye West review, and she did her best to highlight the strong moments from the show. Also our friend Justin Yee — who is yeesus on Instagram, a handle he chose well before the album was released — got some good snaps from the show. Read on if you want to cringe a bit… —Editor
Two years ago I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Kanye West perform at the Austin City Limits music festival. I went into the show with zero to no expectations and after a high-energy and passionate performance, I left confident in Mr. West’s prowess not only as an entertainer, but also as a musician.
When I heard that Kanye’s Yeezus tour was coming to the Bay Area, I immediately bought tickets, excited to experience another stellar performance on my home turf. I guess I should have had my suspicious surrounding a tour that was preceded by a $20 million dollar proposal, shockingly egotistical soliloquies in the New York Times as well as an album with tracks titled “I Am A God” and “Black Skinhead”.
Last night’s show less a show of musicianship and more a demonstration of unparalleled self-importance. By “demonstration” I mean Kanye writhing around on a bunch of different sized triangles at times surrounded by 12 models in flesh colored onesies. By “self-important” I mean positioning himself as some sort of messiah. What nearly nude dancers and the second coming have to do with one another I’m not sure, nor will I likely ever be sure.
But let’s get back to the music.
As this was the Yeezus tour, the song list consisted heavily of tracks from the album, including the aforementioned “I Am a God”, “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves”. The show was structured in different acts, which included “Fighting”, “Rising”, “Falling”, “Searching” and “Finding” with specific songs performed within each section to represent an allegory of his life.
Fighting was super angry. Rising brought the mood up a notch. Then we launched in to “Falling…”
In the middle of “Falling” I realized that my soul had descended into a deep hole of doom and despair. A mid-concert depression set in as I watched Kanye battle up the side of this paper mache Aggro Crag to fight some sort of red-eyed demon-monkey with his music. It was actually kind of scary — glowing red eyes always scare me — so I guess that his dramatization did, in fact, work.
A snooze worthy monologue-cum-sermon provided Yeezy to prime opportunity to remind us all that he “doesn’t give a f— about the media” and will continue to do “what ever I want, when ever I want, when ever I want to.” A gentleman behind me aptly responded with a “I don’t give a f—- about anything besides The College Dropout“. At this point, a general vibe of “Okay, Kanye. We get it.” had glazed over the audience and most people were lolling about in their seats. Even Kanye’s full-head mask wouldn’t have been able to cover up my yawns.
Things had gotten dire.
Finally. FINALLY. Jesus (yes, there was an actor dressed up as Jesus.) showed up and pulled Kanye’s mask off allowing him to launch into all of the jams we were there to hear. This is probably a good time to note that the sound quality improved significantly afterwards. Although it never seemed like a good idea from the start, it turns out that it actually was not a good idea to attempt singing through a bejeweled mask.
However, by the time Kanye got to the songs I actually wanted to hear, the clock was approaching midnight on a Wednesday and I was too tired to care. I left before the encore.
I understand that Kanye is trying to break out of the mold of “entertainer” and be considered some sort of artist at the least and a deity at the most. The bottom line is the theatrics are best saved for Broadway. At a stadium show, just bring it with the music.
The fact of the matter is that Kayne has a prolific career already beneath his belt and is likely going to be a fixture of music for some time to come. I hope that this is his experimentalism is just a phase so we can get back to the good stuff and we can just sweep this beneath the rug. As a friend pointed out, “even Stevie Wonder had a weird moment.”