Kanye West will make you believe

Kanye West will make you believe

Driving to and from Chicago for a concert the weekend before midterms is a risky move, and could very easily create bad results for a person’s grades. One of the few artists that can easily justify this action is Kanye West, the polarizing, ego-driven, hip-hop genius, who is currently touring behind his February release, “The Life of Pablo.” The concert, the second of a two-night stand in his hometown, solidified the fact that he is one of the most influential artists of the past twenty years.

Normal concerts often have an opening artist. Normal concerts have a front and back of the arena, a set stage and a barrier to that stage. And normal concerts have the lights focused on the performer. But this was no normal concert. Instead, there was no opener and no stage. In lieu of a stage there was a rectangular piece of steel that looked as if it was en route to a construction site.

When the building went dark at 9:45, after a delay of fifteen minutes due to hordes of people waiting to get their tickets scanned, West was strapped into a harness on the stage and took flight. Aside from a small light that illuminated West, the rest of the massive light setup was often lighting up the crowd below his level. And for the next hour and a half, he floated above the crowd, moving from end to end of the arena. It was a revolutionary stage setup, something that would only be conceived and followed through by a visionary like Kanye.

The unconventional stage allowed for the most fluid, free-moving crowd imaginable. Much of the general admission crowd followed the stage around like disciples to their leader, but no matter where one stood on the floor, there was at least one point in the show in which West would’ve been less than ten feet away. It also made for one of the most insane crowds in the history of concerts. Each song brought with it a reaction from those in attendance as if it was their favorite song of all time. The opening lines of first song “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1,” in which producer Metro Boomin has Future proclaim “If young Metro don’t trust you I’m gon’ shoot you,” brought on a frenzy. The crowd collectively lost their minds. Every single person was jumping and screaming each word at the top of their lungs. This sentiment was echoed throughout the show — from the four times Kanye restarted “Famous” after reciting his crude line about Taylor Swift, to the bass drop in “Blood on the Leaves,” the crowd’s energy never wavered.

That maintenance of energy was fueled in large part by the incredible setlist. While the set leaned heavily on his latest album, it touched on every part of his career. Everything from early hit “Jesus Walks,” to a slew of feature performances such as Schoolboy Q’s “That Part,” Chief Keef’s “Don’t Like,” to a few standout tracks from 2010’s masterpiece “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” there was not a bad song in the 32-song set. Known for his legendary rants during shows, the talk was surprisingly quiet at the show.

Aside from a small speech about how he saw the past and the future at the show that evening during the bridge of “Runaway,” the only interactions were mentions of Chicago being his hometown. Despite only a small speech, “Runaway” was one of the most poignant moments of the evening. Though the crowd sang along to every word, it seemed that people were especially loud on this particular track. From the opening piano, people in the crowd were tearing up and visibly overwhelmed to hear the song. Seeing such a strong reaction to music was a special moment to say the least, and one all the more special since it was such a stark contrast to many of the bangers West played throughout the night.

The show ended after an hour and a half with the amazing “Ultralight Beam” from “The Life of Pablo.” Floating from one end to another with a direct and blinding light shining down upon him, it would not have been surprising to see him ascend into the rafters and fly away into the night. While that did not happen, the show was a spiritual moment for all in the building. Everyone in attendance had worshipped at the Church of Yeezus, and in the process found a community of 15,000 like-minded individuals. We can now only hope that he brings St. Louis to church at some point before the Saint Pablo tour concludes for good.

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