Kanye Stops the Show (Literally)

The weather was mercifully cooperative yesterday, so day one of Made in America got off to a smashing start.

The lineup, we’ve gotta say, was a little strange. City and Colour, J. Cole, The National, Steve Aoki, and Kanye. All great bands, it’s true, but City and Colour and The National may not have been the best choices for a festival setting. They played their hearts out, but the crowd was too anxious for Kanye, it seems. It’s a good thing Aoki came in on the Liberty Stage right before Kanye to pump the crowd back up. His set was a blast, and fans all around the parkway were dancing.

Kanye West’s set was — guess what — controversial. There were ups and downs, but for the most part the message didn’t come across to the audience. He focused primarily on his earlier works from The College Dropout, establishing that this is no longer the Yeezus tour. This is just Kanye West. He stopped the show twice. The first time was just before “New Slaves”. He started spitting and immediately stopped before the second verse, asking for the camera to be focused on his face rather than his body. He wanted the “black and white look,” he kept saying. The colors switched and the focus shifted and Kanye got back in gear, performing “New Slaves” the same way he performed it on SNL last summer. The second time was during “Blood on the Leaves,” where he asked the audience to make some room before going wild during the drop. He finished the show with two more rounds of “Blood on the Leaves,” complete with mic drop.

The audience was confused by the stoppage, the repetition, and the two sermons Kanye delivered, but it’s all part of the Kanye West experience. While he has your attention, he’s gonna spread his message. His audience expects him to deliver a show and he presumably expects for the audience to listen to his message. Both sides have a point, but the audience was a little disgruntled by the third round of “Blood on the Leaves” and started leaving en masse.

While Kanye was performing, the energy was astonishing. He had the same sentiment as his Yeezus tour when he was in Philadelphia less than a year ago. Minimalism was the focus. The only light was from an occasional spotlight and from the screens behind him, projecting a heat-seeking image of his body and occasionally of the crowd. Minimalism yields a stronger focus on the music itself, and the masks Kanye wore (again!) take the focus farther away from himself. Though it’s wrapped up in an ego, there’s a selflessness to Kanye’s shows now, whether it’s understood by the audience or not.

There’s profundity in his “sermons” as well. Early on in the show he said to the audience:

We work hard on our craft. From age fourteen to thirty-seven, now. We work extremely hard. They wanna make a joke about how hard we work. South Park, you know, making a joke. MTV making a joke recently. It’s fine. But it don’t distract from our mission. This is not a joke. Our music is not a joke. What we do is not a joke. It’s not a joke. Treat it with respect. Because we all in this together. They try to make it seem like it’s self-absorbed, but I want to create more that can help more people… I want people to realize that we put our love, our heart, our story, our lives 3:00 AM in the studio for this.

Today Rock On Philly’s diving back in for Spoon, Girl Talk, Pharrell, Tiesto, and Kings of Leon! Jen and Katie are livetweeting at @jenniferlogue and @kateantons! If you can’t make it, follow Jen and Katie on twitter and check out the livestream at the Made in America website! We’ll have photos up soon, so stay tuned!

4 Comments

  1. Wakana

    August 31, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    I still think west coast got the better lineup but I’m sad I missed out in Philly

  2. Devon O'Connor

    August 31, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    “the Kanye West experience” haha so accurate. But I love The National – sad they didn’t go over better with the crowd.

  3. Lauren Silvestri

    September 1, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Really wish I could have experienced Kanye in person, I appreciate that his shows are unpredictable!

  4. Pingback: Best of the B Sides: “Comin’ Home” - Rock On Philly

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