Inside the 18-Day Sprint to Produce Kanye and Drake’s ‘Free Larry Hoover’ Concert

Gabe Fraboni, the production lead for Kanye West and Drake’s ‘Free Larry Hoover’ concert, describes what it was like to pull off the show in just 18 days.

Kanye West Larry Hoover concert

Image via Gabe Fraboni

Kanye West Larry Hoover concert

Last week, Kanye West and Drake made history. Two of rap’s biggest artists took the stage at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in hopes of bringing more awareness to the case of Larry Hoover, who is currently serving six life sentences behind bars. The event also marked the end of a longtime, volatile beef between Ye and Drake. It was a surreal moment for all who attended or watched the live performance online, and the whole thing came together in just 18 days. 

Gabe Fraboni, founder and creative director of PHNTM, who was Ye’s production lead on the Hoover show and produces his Sunday Service shows, tells Complex that an arena concert usually takes a year to produce, but the number was cut all the way down to 18 days for this event. The vision for the show was ideated by Ye and his designer, but it was up to Fraboni and the team to make it a reality. As chaotic as that sounds, Fraboni says it only contributed to the fun of putting the show together. 

“Everything that Ye does, it’s as big and as far as you can take an idea,” he explains. “That’s one of the more exciting aspects of working with him. It continuously evolved. Literally, right up until the night before the show, it was evolving.”

The visual concept for the show revolved around using low-lying fog to make it look like Kanye and Drake were above the clouds. To pull it all off, they used 5,000 pounds of dry ice underneath the stage.

Gabe Fraboni walked Complex through the 18 days leading up to the show, speaking about what it’s like working with Kanye, and what’s next for PHNTM. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.

Kanye West and Free Larry Hoover concert
Kanye West Free Larry Hoover Concert
Kanye West Free Larry Hoover show

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Switching gears to Sunday Service, what has been the vision that Ye has communicated to you? 

There’s this space that has been called the Donda space, which is where it takes place currently. It started as, like, “OK, cool, this is what we want to do with it. We’re going to tear this part of the building down. We’re going to open these skylights up. We’re going to try this, this, and this.” And it worked. Then it just naturally evolved. Again, one of my favorite parts about working with Ye in general is just letting things really evolve, but then forcing them when it’s time. 

What has been your favorite Sunday Service memory? 

When we went acoustic. We went from mic’ing every choir member to only using five microphones. There’s just this beautiful acoustic moment of this building that Sunday Service happens in. I remember it just giving me chills.

What is the biggest thing you learned about Ye from working with him over the years? 

Just be real with him. That’s really it. That’s the only thing I can say is, “Be real with him.” You know?

What else is PHNTM working on? 

We’re going to have a big year. 2022 is going to be big, and hopefully we get to be a part of it. We do a ton of work in the experiential space, always looking for new brands and experiences to develop. And then we do a lot of work out in the Middle East. We’re going to be doing some work on the World Cup with Live Nation. We’re going to be debuting a new show at Ultra. So, that’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re working on a couple of different TV series premieres that are more experiential events. We just did a project with Red Bull, and we’re going to be partnering with them on a whole bunch more stuff coming into the new year. 

We’re about to do a really big launch. We’re formally launching PHNTM as a creative agency/production company, in the new year. And then we’ve got a lot of really exciting projects in the works. We’re currently working on building this platform called PHNTM Vision, which is a virtual production software that we’re hoping to deploy on some feature films in the new year. And instead of using a green screen, we’re using LED walls, the same tech that The Mandalorian is filmed on. So we’ve developed our own workflow for it, and we’re partnering with a company called Monolith Studios to start putting it into the world and use it on some feature films. So 2022, I’m hoping for PHNTM, is going to be one of our strongest years yet.

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