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Influence of a Giant

Kanye West’s ‘Saint Pablo’ tour proves his worth

Jake Rehfeldt, Staff Reporter
Originally published November 20, 2016

Emma Obrietan

Editor’s Note: at the time of writing, West had not yet announced his support of Donald Trump, proving he really could be the compulsive egomaniac this article claims he isn’t.

We walked into the show wondering what we were doing here, doubting the hundreds of dollars we collectively spent on tickets to a Wednesday night show that would almost certainly disappoint. The world’s favorite egomaniac couldn’t possibly give a performance so good that it met expectations set by my entire teenage years’ obsession.

And then it did.

Hours passed waiting in the ever-growing tension that tends to fill Key Arena before a show of this magnitude. But few shows are of this magnitude.

Kanye West has been long known for his media presence. Controversy seems to follow him everywhere, with his self-proclaimed “Black Beatle” image stirring up outcry from traditionalist music consumers.

Waiting outside Key Arena that night, we wondered if he would come through with a life-changing performance as his attitude seemed to promise.

As the beginning of Pastor T.L. Barrett’s “Father I Stretch My Hands” turned into the famous Metro Boomin DJ tag that kicks off “The Life Of Pablo” played, the buzz of the crowd turned to a full blown roar.

Any doubt I had previously entertained was gone. For almost two full hours I entered the mind of Kanye West. It was undeniable that every aspect of the performance was meticulously curated by the man himself.

I felt as though the show had been planned with every seat in mind. With the floating stage, Kanye completely eliminated the “push-to-the-front” mindset that everyone hates about concerts. The platform smoothly floated to every part of the floor, each concert-goer afforded their own intimate moment with their hero.

Even in my seat, which was in the stands, I had no qualms with the performance. While the people on the floor might have gotten the truly Instagram-worthy photo, I was able to see the entire show in its cinematic greatness and blatant God imagery, an experience that could never be understood by someone on the floor. With the video screen up above my eyeline, showing essentially a live music video, even the kid in the nosebleed seats at the back of the arena was given a completely different experience.

Several songs in, the music stopped. One side of the stage dipped down toward the screaming fans and Kanye crouched at the edge and seemed to just soak it in. Fans literally reached up to their hero, the soft orange light reminiscent of a renaissance painting. There is not a doubt in my mind that this Godlike appearance was anything but intentional.

As the show went on, the cinematic perfection maintained its consistency, and every song was recited word for word by fans of every background. Finally, a wall of security personnel seemed to appear out of nowhere, and they cleared out one end of the floor. The floating platform dipped on one side and Kanye stepped off, and was gone. No goodbye, no acknowledgement necessary.

As the final notes of “Ultralight Beam” played, I understood something I had never really grasped before: the justification for Kanye’s massive ego.

Kanye’s ego is so big because of his massive and personal role in everything he does. In an era where the majority of popular artists have little (or no) role in the creation of their songs, Kanye West proves again and again that he is the exception which proves the rule. Kanye’s “stage presence” transcends his bravado and his movements on stage.

The Kanye performance is meticulously created in its every detail. From the lights, to the merch, even down to the pre-show ambience, Kanye West has successfully turned highly industrialized pop music into high art, closing a circle in a way that would strike a chord of pride in any of his predecessors.

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Influence of a Giant