PHOTOS / WORDS: Kanye West @ ACL Fest 2011 (DAY ONE)

To finish off our first day at Austin City Limits Music Festival, we raged hard at the Kanye West set through all three acts and every bit of over-production that you’d want and expect from Kanye. The words that follow were written up by Cassidy Blackwell of Natural Selection, a much bigger Kanye fan than myself and a girl that knew what she wanted to see from this set. I snapped the photos at the end of the review…

We were welcomed to Austin by a city flooded with ACL-related rumors, one of which speculated that Jay-Z would be joining Kanye West on stage for his Friday night headlining set. Two of hip-hop’s best and most creative artists and producers on stage together to kick the festival off? Yes please! So we spent the first day of the festival with crossed our fingers in the hopes that we would see Yeezy and Jigga live and in the flesh together for the Friday night headlining set.

As an artist known for his theatrics, Kanye made literal reference to the dramatic arts by creating a three-act set that delivered a melange of favorite tracks from College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation, 808’s & Heartbreak, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy AND Watch the Throne, his latest collabo with Jay-Z.

Act One opened with modern dancers on the stage and Kanye on a scissor-lift towering 50-feet above the stage for a powerhouse instrumental cut from “H.A.M” from Watch the Throne, further heightening anticipation of perhaps seeing a certain guest performance. Back on the ground, Kanye flowed right into into the thundering baselines evocative of a military march from of one of his earliest singles “Jesus Walks” followed by “Flashing Lights” that featured a dazzling array of, well…, flashing lights:

Kanye West - Flashing Lights @ Austin City Limits 2011

Act Three kicked off with “a toast to the douchebags and assholes” on the track “Runaway” and closed with “Lost in the World,” a cut from his latest album featuring Bon Iver. By the end of the hour and 45-minute set, we had forgotten all about the rumored cameos and were reveling in the afterglow of being immersed in 100% pure, unadulterated Kanye West. As fans streamed from the festival grounds after Kanye’s set closed out the night, it was clear that with his command of passionate lyricism, electronic sampling, and artistic vision, Kanye can certainly hold his own on the stage.