Date: October 12, 2005 - December 11, 2005
Stage designer: Es Devlin
Music performed: The College Dropout, Late Registration
Kanye announced his Touch the Sky tour with the following statement, "Performing live is the reason why we make this music, spend so much time and thought and craft on it...It's never been about the critics or the album sales. It's about the fans, and I love having the opportunity to bring this music—that I've poured my heart and soul into—to them. I think about how audiences are going to respond to hooks and intros and certain lines when I'm in the studio recording. Bringing these songs to the stage is the ultimate fulfillment of the creative process."
Kanye continued to show his focus on visuals, whether it be his flashy, unpredictable clothing choices or the type treatments on his packaging and stages. After kicking off the Touch the Sky tour in Miami, fans learned that he had revamped the stage design only two weeks before (reportedly, because he didn't like the lighting). An MTV reporter overheard him yell the following to his initial designer over the phone, "The visual...I'm not excited about going on tour. All y'all have is moving lights!" A colleague Richard Brown suggested that he work with Es Devlin, and the problem was solved. Devlin has been his stage designer ever since, notably designing the Glow in the Dark tour, Kanye's 2010 BET Awards performance, the Watch the Throne tour, and the current Yeezus tour.
Kanye had Fantasia, Keyshia Cole, and Common open for him, although Common dropped off the tour at various points. At one point, Common said, "Me and Kanye's mothers are in the crowd. My stepfather is in the crowd throwing up the diamond. It's a beautiful moment in history."
For only his second tour, Kanye was sure to make it memorable and technically sound. He showed fans that he isn't just a rapper—he's a visionary with a greater aesthetic plan. He told the same MTV reporter,
I want people [seeing the Touch the Sky show] to feel inspired. I want them to go to work the next day and feel like they can take whatever they're doing to another level. It's not just about sitting there being in awe. Making the world better—that's one of our missions with music and with visuals. So my pain is everybody else's pleasure—how I stress, how I was up all last night, how I'm about to kill myself because it's not perfect. Well, maybe people can feel that when they're in the audience, like, 'Yoooooo! This really took a lot of time. He really put a lot of work in this.' Anyone that's ever been backstage or seen a lot of shows is gonna give this show credit for being so different.
When asked about what shows he grew up liking or watching, he said, "Visually, there was nothing that captured me. I have a really high bar and low tolerance. How small my gauge is for what's good is what makes me the artist I am today. Basically, I think 99 percent of the shit is wack. I don't want to be in that 99 percent."
Hong Kong on November 28, 2006: