It must feel kind of terrible to go to Kanye’s Glow In The Dark Tour and not be in awe of what he’s done, not be somewhat stunned and slackjawed at the spectacle, and not feel better about humanity when you see tens of thousands of teenagers singing along to every word of an album that you, as a non-teenager, know every word to and maybe sing in the bathroom every morning. We wouldn’t know that feeling because we went to the Kanye show at Madison Square Garden last night and it blew our brains out.
What these words and crappy photos can’t do, and what others’ words and really good photos didn’t do for us, is prepare you for the scale and execution of Kanye’s now familiar interstellar vision. Yes, we know the dude is obsessed with futurism, sci-fi, and shit in bright colors, but this was not about that. It was not a Japanime freakshow and Kanye did not go through a million Yamamoto-designed cosmonaut suits. He wore a grey hoodie, one sleeve chopped at the elbow to reveal his forearm control panel thing, a classy, strappy vest contraption overtop, a bright red windbreaker tied around his waist, some dark maybe gray jeans and his now-frothed over Nike Air Yeezy’s. No slatted glasses. No Murakami cartoons. This was pure theater, inspired by every movie Kanye thinks is cool and the incredible engine that is his brain.
Blurry photo of Kanye’s spaceship motherboard “Jane”
When the lights went down and a screen in center stage lit up with stars racing towards us, we commented that the screen looked kinda small (JOKES!). And then the dim purple stagelights revealed Kanye splayed out on what looked like a giant laptop from where he began “Good Morning” and the 2001/Sunshine space odyssey, guided by the voice of his spaceship “Jane”, thrust fully onto the enormous panoramic screen behind him as well as two Kanye close-up screens elevated on either side. The narrative of the show is simple, taken from those films’ lost in space tension and applied to Kanye’s personal history. But by the end we’d basically lost the plot because we were fully enraptured by Kanye’s performance.
Blurry photo of Kanye’s foot explosion
Just the idea that all of this comes from one guy—one guy who not too long ago was the weird dude on the Roc. Now he is the Roc, getting 14-year-olds to throw diamonds in the sky and PURCHASE THINGS. Who else is doing that? And who else is bothering to conceive something so brilliant and perfectly attuned to this generation? Nobody. Dude has the present on lock. He dropped his mic by his side a few times and every single person rapped every single word despite what most boobs used to say was a busted flow. Kanye is Pop Star 3.0, fuck Pop Star 9.0. He understands that we watch people doing things on a small scale all day long, and if we’re going spend a fair amount of money to see a stadium show, it better be something that can only be held in a stadium. It better involve supernovas exploding out of Kanye’s stomping foot. It better include a foxy alien dropping from the rafters in a giant bubble. It better make the stage look like a damn forbidden planet or we are going to be pissy on our blogs.
Blurry photo of Kanye’s alien planet landscape
Here’s the funny thing about all of it though: MSG’s soundsystem is atrocious. We could barely tell what the songs were until we heard Kanye’s words. We couldn’t hear the dual drummers, backup singers and we-wish-we-were-that-dude T-Pain emulator hidden in front of the stage. But it didn’t matter. It was eardrum-searing like a good No Age show and it made us really pay attention to what was happening. Would it have been better with good sound? Of course. MAYBE? How could it? That’s like asking if it would have been better if Kanye had come onstage and told us what Lost meant or that he’d invented a pair of Nike underwear that turned farts into carborn-fighting potpourri or that he was actually going to fly us all to Jupiter or some shit. This might happen but it didn’t last night and we are not complaining. Kanye raised the bar about 9,000 notches and now we will expect everyone to catch up. Rap, rock, whatever. It doesn’t have to be the same crazy epic, but it should at least be the same effort and creativity. And just so you know, after finishing a spare version of “Hey Mama”, Kanye walked over to the corner of his world, sat down and jammed Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” in its entirety. Best shit ever.
Blurry photo of Kanye’s epic Journey interlude