Omg where to start – There were bird dancers and ballerinas! And Kanye came out in the crowd on a giant cherry picker! And there were three “acts” like in a play! And they had an on-stage costume change under a giant white parachute! AND KANYE WAS THERE!!!
The buildup to both Kanye and his opening track Power was epic – like Daft Punk epic – with out-of-control guitar riffs accompanying slow, building bass. Kanye needed to have a long intro to accommodate him climbing from the cherry picker to the stage, and he used every second of it as buildup. This really showed what a fantastic producer he is.
And speaking of production, the stage production was fantastic as well. The bird dancers onstage were phenomenal, and Kanye’s interactions with them showed he’s been taking some dance or at least tumbling lessons. At one point he collapsed on the ground while still rapping into the mic. Near the end of Power, everyone did a fast “power clap” with Kanye and the dancers, which under any other circumstances would have been totally lame (like, say, at a party), but in the moment it was quite invigorating.
Alongside fireworks, cascading sparks, a costume change and multiple dance numbers, Kanye unleashed an arsenal from his deep catalogue of hits. Jesus Walks, Can’t Tell Me Nothing, Monster, Flashing Lights, Good Life, Love Lockdown, Homecoming, Golddigger, All Falls Down, Stronger, Runaway: these are all songs that can stand on their own as great pop/hip hop tracks. I regularly listen to several of Kanye’s albums and I thought the set list was incredibly well put together.
Kanye and his people also did an on-stage costume change under a giant parachute, which is a first as far as I can recall.
During All of the Lights, there was a frenzy of booty shaking, fist pumping and seizure-inducing strobe lights. I had this image of myself doing my insane dance during this song, as I officially dubbed it the best track of 2010, but I didn’t. Don’t know why, but I just didn’t. Maybe it’s because I was pretty close to the stage, and there wasn’t much space for insane dancing. But maybe it’s because the larger-than-life emotion of the song somehow didn’t translate into a live performance.
Rumour has it Kanye even shed a tear while dedicating the show to his mother, but I didn’t notice. Well, at least he tried to connect with the audience. To be fair, he did honestly try, declaring this Coachella performance his “most important” since his mother died, so that made us all feel pretty good.
And then near the end when Kanye told us, “This is the last song of the night y’all,” I looked at my friend and asked her what was left? We’d just heard so many hits!
And then came Lost in the World featuring Bon Iver, who was clad in all white and standing on a white pedestal surrounded by dancers. Instead of featuring Rhianna during All of the Lights (and we all know she was at Coachella) Kanye decided to feature an indie-rock darling.
It was perfect.
Though, by not featuring any other big names, this was likely a deliberate ploy to keep Kanye in the spotlight.
And after that, Kanye played Hey, Mama, and everyone had their arms around each other or up in the sky saluting Kanye. It was a great comedown.
Then, Coachella was over. Boo. I guess it’s normal to feel sadness at the end of such an awesome experience. But true to the lyrics of the set’s opener Dark Fantasy, “Can we get much higher?” Kanye’s performance left me wondering if this is the best we’ll ever see of him. I sincerely hope not, but if so, then he went out with a spectacular bang.
This is my first time catching him live, but compared to older live clips I’ve seen of Kanye online, it’s plain to see that he’s really come into himself as a performer. What a professional.
But he still has work to do to overcome being labeled the second-best show at Coachella.
See what you think:
Note the audio is off during Dark Fantasy.
Click the links to view the full set list, and download Kanye’s music.
First photo courtesy of Billboard.com, all other photos by me.