All photos by Rocco Avallone
What else can be written about Kanye West? He is the most talked about rapper in the world right now, but you know that. He gets so fucking pissed off all the time, but you know that. He wears a mask on stage encrusted with Swarovski crystals that looks like a disco ball, but you know that. His ego is massive, but you know that. His relationship with Kim Kardashian is bizarrely fascinating, but you know that. His life is dope and he does dope shit, but you know that.
But that is the glorious mess that is Kanye West, and somehow, he always provides more. Last night, on the ninth anniversary of the release of Late Registration, standing on the Made in America stage in the middle of Ben Franklin Parkway before the steps Rocky runs up in Philadelphia, Kanye West performed “Blood on the Leaves” four times. He yelled at the camera guy to make sure he framed his face correctly. He sang off key. He called out MTV for making a joke about his career at the VMAs. He did “Power.” He did “Run This Town.” He did “Diamonds from Sierra Leone.” He did “Heartless,” Jesus Walks,” “Touch the Sky,” “All Falls Down,” and “Good Life.”
You probably have an opinion on what Kanye West is and what he means to culture. You might think he’s an egomaniac. You might think he’s a visionary genius. But you have an opinion, because it’s impossible to live in the year 2014 and not feel some type of way about Kanye West. All this dude has to do start at cultural conversation is push the tweet button.
Watching that on display is always jarring. This was the fourth time I saw the Yeezus tour, and every single time this motherfucker brings it. For the festival rendition of the tour, there weren’t any mountains and the stage didn’t move up and down and there weren’t projections of bible verses to split up the different “movements” of the set and Jesus Christ didn’t walk out and fist bump Kanye, but the performance still felt holy. “Bow in the presence of greatness,” he spits on “Stronger.” Kanye makes sure that you have no other choice but to do so.
The set was sprinkled with hits from throughout his entire discography. We didn’t get any new music. But that’s OK. Watching Kanye perform these songs we’ve become so familiar with over the years felt comforting, like returning to a familiar place of turn up that only can be channeled through lines like “tell PETA my mink draggin’ on the floor” and “this is my life homie you decide yours.” Kanye takes you to the Yeezunverise, where only complete truth and awesomeness and dopeness exist, jumping before beautiful and blinding red light.
The last time I went to the Yeezus tour, I wore all black. Everyone did. It wasn’t planned. It was just an unconscious decision you make when you go see the Yeezus tour. Yesterday in Philly, it was a bit different. Most turned up teens were wearing American flags. But there I was, among the stars and stripes, again, wearing all black, standing with a girl who was also wearing all black. Halfway through the set, I lifted her on my shoulders. No one cared. No one got pissed. Yeezus isn’t a performance; it’s an experience. Kanye is our guide as we enter a world in which everything hinges on proving your own worth with passion and honor and excitement and entertainment for life. At one point during the “Kanye rant,” he reminded us over and over again that he does it for us. He does it for love. He does it for the turnt. That’s why he played “Blood on the Leaves” four fucking times.
Eric Sundermann thinks we could've been somebody. He's on Twitter — @ericsundy
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