By Cory Serfoss
There were thrills, there were explosions, there were flashing lights—yes, there was Yeezus. It was the most extravagant concert I’ve ever been to. It was actually more than a concert—something like a rally. There was so much energy in that arena that I doubt anything short of an infamous “Kanye rant” could sustain.
And who else would be fit for the opening role of this inglorious movie starring Kanye West other than the cool of a Jay Z, the stardom of a Beatle or even the in-your-face energy of a Steven Tyler?
And the answer to this million dollar question is the “Control verse fiend,” who not only shut down rap music but also every single social media outlet from Twitter to even CNN for a week minimum with his jarring performance on the Big Sean song “Control” that became his after the tick of about two minutes and 58 seconds on the K. dot—–for all of the older fans.
If you haven’t guessed by now, it’s the future of rap’s answer—Kendrick Lamar. The rapper is fresh off of his critically acclaimed Good Kid M.A.A.D. City album, which was the prime example that the stereotypical thoughts of rap music being only about misogyny, ebonics and gang violence should have been tossed decades ago. This notion should be replaced with the beauty of struggle, despair and love that brought not only the mainstream but also the most rabid fans in harmony singing “Kumbaya” over some sweet graham crackers and charred marshmallows.
I came an hour early and there were already thousands waiting in the 30 degree weather to get inside of the historic Wells Fargo Center where stars like Julius Erving, Wilt Chamberlin and even Allen Iverson used to call home and Kanye West was ready to play with a sold-out crowd of 20,000 in attendance.
Another thing to lead on to the concert’s extravagance was the incredibly expensive tour merchandise composed of t-shirts, sweats and bags either engraved with the Confederate flag, skulls or Kanye West himself being hoisted into the air like Jesus ascending into Heaven.
I found myself enthralled by the opener, Kendrick Lamar’s concert piece. He starts off with one of my favorite songs off of his good kid, m.A.A.d. city album, Money Trees. While his performance was transpiring, there was an enormous screen behind him taking the crowd through the gritty streets of Compton, Calif., with shocking scenes of drugs, prostitution and life in the hood with uncomfortable still-shots and videos.
Needless to say, the imagery was as amazing as the performance. With a live band at his side adding extra guitar synths and feeling to the already emotionally packed tracks, Kendrick lit up the stage. Throughout the entirety of the performance, one could see West’s over-the-top artistic influences during Kendrick’s performance from aspects such as the fireworks in the background, the live band and even the five-star light show that would have put Victoria Harbor to shame.
At the end of Kendrick’s performance was a humbling speech in which the rapper stated that the only reason that he is alive and not a product of his environment right now is because of his fans and it marks the first time I’ve ever waited forty-five minutes for the setup for the headline performer.
Then I realized again that this was Kanye West we were talking about. It took so long that I literally had time to plot a plan to get to the front row downstairs, realize that it was close to impossible, finally sneak downstairs, get kicked out, sneak in again, get kicked out and by the time the lights got dim I comfortably procured myself a standing spot in the first row.
The show was all I could ever ask for. Kanye strode onto the scene in between a crowd of twelve models/disciples—remember this for later—dressed as religious nuns, outfitted in a diamond encrusted designer mask, with not only a mountain behind him which many began calling “Mount Yeezus” and a beautiful custom made 60-foot circular LED that he hoisted above the triangular stage floor.
The symbolism here left me speechless, as everything related to stories in the Bible, notably the presence of the Holy Trinity.
If the aesthetic value weren’t enough to please the crowd, then the music more than satisfied, with a plethora of songs stemming not only from his newest album “Yeezus,” but two and a half hours worth of songs ranging from personal favorites, songs he’d featured on, intrinsically fueled songs, to even downright classics from his impressive, extensive catalogue.
There was no lack of energy from Kanye, as he powered through his set effortlessly. He even treated us to a “Kanye rant,” or as he’d like to put it, a “visionary stream of conscious.”
This is all what a Kanye West concert entails—his own beautiful dark, twisted fantasy, with the cherry on top being the mockingly sweet song of “Bound 2” and a kiss from his fiancé Kim Kardashian as he said goodbye to the audience.