My G-Pen malfunctioned on one of the most important nights of my life. I was distraught, almost beside myself, because I needed to be zooted out of my mind for such a special occasion: seeing Kanye West, live and in person, for the first time.
Thankfully, I had a joint stuffed with some of the best kush this side of the Mississippi and some Henny in my system. Piff and dark liquor were vital for my first Kanye show. I missed out on the Glow in the Dark and Yeezus tours, which is regrettable, since those tours come up constantly in conversations about the best live shows of my generation.
This experience was church on a Monday night. I left the show feeling cleansed of all evil; pure like the waters of Lake Minnetonka.
At the Garden, making our way through the ridiculous Human Centipede-like merch lines, we were welcomed by the transcendental sounds of trippy instrumental music and wolves howling. Definitely a sign of great things to come. Entering the cavernous floor, the stage area resembled something out of Blade Runner: dark and industrial, all metal and spare lights.
The show started. Orange and red colors dominated, with heavy fog adding a dope warm feeling. You could hear the hydraulic pumps releasing air as the platform Kanye performed on lifted into view. He rose above his teeming teen fans, illuminated from below by and ever-more powerful lighting rig.
Kanye stood in the center of the stage, with a harness and metal cable strapped to his lower back like a maniac. And as the platform floated over the crowd, it seemed as if the lights below were setting off a chemical reaction in the audience members, inciting them to dance and mob like they’d lost their minds. The situation called to mind The Matrix: Reloaded party scene; orange and red hues transforming ravers into flames bouncing in random formations.
At one point lights of various colors blinked to the sound of foghorns, as if Yeezy wanted to communicate with the aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The show was so lit one of my friends secretly pissed in a beer cup as to not miss a second. Disgusting? Yes. Do I blame him? Absolutely not.
Kanye was mostly heard and not seen as he danced, jumped, walked, and laid on his back on his floating machine. The lighting and fog setup allowed him to disappear in the mist, letting the music do the talking for him. He opened the show with the booming synths of fan favorite "Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1." Naturally, the packed house lost all sense of personal boundaries and exploded in unison.
"Famous" and "Freestyle 4" made people lose their minds too; the suspended platform bounced up and down when the crowd beneath it rioted. It was an earthquake in the middle of the Garden. By the closer, his performance of The Life of Pablo's "Fade", lasers were his co-star. Throughout, Ye had the crowd in the palm of his hand.
The best moment of the night, for me, was when West ran back "Waves" twice, before immediately transitioning into "Gold Digger." The packed stadium sung the hooks and verses at the top of their lungs and it felt like a holy service or cult gathering, depending on your moral compass. I like to think it was a mix of both. One needs to have balance in life, right?
Minor audio issues and the lack of special guests—fans held their breath for a Chance the Rapper spot on “Ultralight Beam" (or Tity Boi for the brief "Mercy" performance *sad face emoji*) to no avail—were mildly disappointing, but Kanye exceeded expectations. This experience was church on a Monday night. I left the show feeling cleansed of all evil; pure like the waters of Lake Minnetonka.
As the show passed the 90-minute mark, clandestine stewards with flashlights played air traffic control on the Garden floor as the stage lowered, allowing Kanye to walk off into the Mecca's tunnels. The show was over.
It was the kind of thing that made you nostalgic for what had just happened. I recalled the moment after West performed “Heartless,” and while lying on his back, the stage lowered close to his flock so he could dap his followers. Someone remarked, “This is why he’s the best. Kanye is on some Michael Jackson shit.” He was right.
I thought people were going to start fainting as he reached down and touched them. After the show, I came across the picture below and later found out Yeezy sold more merch at MSG than the Pope.
Saint Pablo, indeed.