Kanye West October 29, T-Mobile Arena.
Kanye West’s narcissism was on full display Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena, a tour stop that found the Chi-Town rapper performing on a moving, floating platform, suspended several feet above the crowd. What better way for an artist who fancies himself a deity (see: “I Am a God”) than literally putting himself upon a pedestal, physically lording over his Yeezy brand-wearing subjects?
West opened a show built heavily around his most recent album, The Life of Pablo, with the gospel-driven “Father Stretch My Hands," inspiring the floor crowd to literally reach up to their idol, despite having no chance of touching the sky. After getting the Taylor Swift dis cut “Famous” out of the way, he barreled through some of his most popular guest-appearance verses, like Schoolboy Q’s “That Part,” Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like” and G.O.O.D. Music posse cut “Mercy.”
The energy of the crowd beneath him was incredible, with newer, trap-driven tracks like “Blood on the Leaves” and “Freestyle 4” putting the pit into perpetual bounce, with bow-throwing in abundance. The same could not be said for more lukewarm, auto-tuned cuts like “Wolves” or “Only One,” which found many people in my section heading for the bar. The strength of older songs like “Jesus Walks,” “Flashing Lights,” “Touch the Sky” and “Stronger” carried the energy for the rest of the set, drawing a far louder response from the crowd. Cue “I Miss the Old Kanye” reference.
The show ended abruptly with “Ultralight Beam,” with its gospel cries played on a loop as the stage descended and disappeared into the void. No encore, lights on, get out. Kanye West has left the building.
Despite the breathtaking production value of his levitating stage, the night raised a lot of questions about West’s motivations. With all of the lights off in the sold-out arena, except for the floor crowd beneath him, who exactly was Kanye performing for, since he clearly couldn’t see anyone? As the stage shuffled from left to right across the arena, so did the legion of fans beneath him, looking like zombies from The Walking Dead. Kanye has fans eating out of his hand, but just as he asks on his song “New Slaves,” are you a leader or a follower?