I guess I’ve never been satisfied.
I’m no stranger to live shows or to writing about them. However, the task of translating the experience that Kanye West brought to the Revel stage is a true challenge. We know that Ye’s breathing ground is on the line teetering insanity and genius and his show represented just that. It was flashing lights. It was everything that’s great and terrifying about him. It was an hour long mind fuck.
I was especially eager for Ye’s 3-day showcase at the Revel Resort in Atlantic City because it wasn’t a tour run for an album. This show was going to be Kanye’s catalog in all of its glory; from the Good Life to the turmoil of losing his mother and longtime girlfriend leading up to more recently with his self proclaimed throne. Since I was attending the second of three shows, I was keen to avoid the Elliot Wilson posts revealing his wardrobe and set list. I wanted to be a blank slate tonight.
The Revel’s Ovation Theater holds only 5,000 or so which meant that everyone in the building would have a good seat. The show was expected to start at 10PM but as 10:45 crept upon us, we realized that tonight would happen on his time. The hour before show time was spent soaking in the crowd. It was a real spectacle. Men and women of all ages, races, tax brackets and fashion scenes were coming together. Street wear and black tie took their seats and anxiously waited. We were all seemingly different but with one underlying commonality- an appreciation for the eccentric art that is Kanye West.
My attempt to describe his time on stage would be underwhelming compared to its actuality. A sixty minute earthquake was caused by the surround sound and bass. I couldn’t hear myself think, I could just wholeheartedly scream along the lyrics to songs like ‘Can’t Tell Me ‘Nothin,’ ‘Jesus Walks,’ ‘Runaway,’ and ‘Diamonds.’ He wore his show stopping Maison Martin Margiela masks and an all white garb down to his crisp mid-top Air Force Is. His company, Donda, took the set out-of-this-world with full screens on the floor, ceiling and framing the background. Simplistic nature scenes, lasers, smoke and pyrotechnics were the perfect environment for him. It was just Ye, raw and uncut.
But aside from his spectacular performance of the songs that I’ve loved for years, he struck me strongly with something else. Midway through his performance of ‘Clique,’ he began to rant. You may have read, heard or watched this five minute diarrhea of the mouth. A crowd of confused faces wondered if this was rehearsed, we quickly realized it wasn’t. (This would be a good time to watch for yourself HERE)
“I’m just NOT satisfied!” And the light bulb went off. The shock of seeing unexpected faces in the audience, the rush of energy that his enthusiasm brought to me, my attachment to his anger- it all made sense. For me, West was speaking for those who have faith in the height of Hip Hop culture when he started spewing out those words. And Revel was living proof.
He was bringing Hip Hop to the places that fear it the most. He was throwing sound and color and motion picture in the face of those who critique our art in such a manner that it could not be denied. He was an artist. I’ve been to those other shows, the ones where the artist isn’t invested in the quality. I’ve seen what happens when there hasn’t been a mic-check or a test of the lights or even when the sound system hasn’t been tuned. And because of that, I have to appreciate the precision and perfection that Ye presented that evening. I’m now satisfied.
+S | @saybz