Tomato soup with habenero peppers is so hot, it will allow you to see through time. After three bowls, i've witnessed the forthcoming of: A White Stripes Reunion tour (circa Summer 2014), a Paul McCartney/Ringo Starr collaboration record entitled "Richard Starkey sings the blues" (McCartney will accompany with ukelele...expect this to drop in may 2012), a broadway production of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" with music composed for the stage by Maynard James Keenan and Jim James...this debuts on April 23rd, 2016, a biopic of Patsy Cline written and directed by the Coen Brothers and starring Zooey Deschanel. It will win 2 Academy Awards and shall hit theatres summer of 2015. And, lastly, as of the year 2050, Kanye West will still be a mega talented snot-nosed ass pocket.
The goal of this evening's blogpost is not to crucify the afforementioned hip-hop star simply for the sake of randomly bashing him. That's too simple. I like to think that I wouldn't call shenanigans on some one unless I felt as though i'd been personally wronged by the alleged villain. Also, it's popular to hate on Kanye West. In addition to the Taylor Swift debacle it is widely known/reported that West is erm...something of a diva. It's difficult, but i'm trying to be diplomatic here. You've no idea how tempted I am to start slinging insults and cutdowns (E.G. Kanye likes to smell his own farts) but that won't get us anywhere. That...is childish. But, I think most would agree with my use of the diva illustration. And who are we kidding? That's a turn off. It' NOT enough of a turn off though, to make me boycott an artist's music and hop on the hate bandwagon. If that were the case I would have to throw out half of my record collection. It's safe to say though, I think, that these are the prime reasons why many people are turned off by Kanye West. But like I said before; this blog will not seek to randomly crap on the man just cause everybody else is. In truth, I really hate when people do that. For example, it's also populr to hate Kings of Leon, U2, and Dave Matthew Band--just to name a few. I have my reasons for calling out Mr. West; they are GOOD reasons, I promise, and they were born before the time of general Kanye hate. I shall present them thusly.
I didn't always harbor strong ill-will towards Kanye. In fact. I used to really, REALLY like him. I recall a friend named Nick Jones introducing me to the song "Jesus Walks," back in the summer of 2005. At least...I think it was the summer of 2005--may have been 2006. My memories are plagued with cobwebs. The point though, was that I thought the song was fantastic. I loved its flow, I loved its lyrics, and I loved the music video that accompanied it. Over the the proceeding months I downloaded more of his music and not only dug what I was hearing, but thoroughly respected it as well. "Here is a guy," I thought to myself, "who really knows how to put beats and lyrics together."
This brings us to the year 2008, and the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival. I could do a separate blog just on Bonnaroo--how it has effected my life--the amazing things i've seen there--and the unfortunate downward spiral it took last year--but I won't go into all that. Another time, perhaps. All you really need to know is that I had been twice previously, in 2004 and 2006--and it is one of the greatest places on earth. The festival occurs every June in Manchester, Tn. over a period of four days. The initial line up for the festival always drops sometime in the middle of february (yes that means the lineup for 2011 will be announced any day now). But it is 2008 we are concerned with, and when I woke up one morning in February of that year and checked www.bonnaroo.com to see if they lineup had been announced yet, I was met with this:
Pearl Jam, Metallica, Jack Johnson, Widespread Panic, Kanye West, Christ Rock, Robert Plant & Allison Krauss, Phil Lesh & Friends, My Morning Jacket, The Raconteurs, Willie Nelson, Death Cab For Cutie, Tiesto, B.B. King, Les Claypool, Sigur Ros, Levon Helm, Ben Folds, O.A.R, Cat Power, M.I.A, Umphrey's Mcgee, Iron & Wine, Stephen Marley, Yonder Mtn. String Band, The Swell Season, Talib Kweli, Derek Trucks, Gogol Bordello, Broken Social Scene, Robert Randolph, Rilo Kiley, The Disco Biscuits, Mastadon, Lupe Fiasco, and Solomon Burke; plus many, many, many more.
Yeah. I geeked out.
As stoked as I was about finally getting to see Pearl Jam, Metallica, and Robert Plant; I was just as interested in seeing what a Kanye West performance would be like. Can you blame me? His tunes were brilliant and exciting. It only made sense that his live show would be just as magical.
I bought my ticket. Winter turned to spring. Spring turned to summer. I packed my bags. I pointed the steely grey nose of my pick up truck south and without further hesitation cracked the gas pedal so that life might breath into my vehicle thus transporting me from Radford "I hate my life" Virginia to Manchester, Tn. for my third tour of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. A place, truly, like no other.
Musicians at Bonnaroo are divided up between five venues. Three tents labled "This tent, "That tent" and "The other Tent." And two stages, a smaller stage called, "Which stage," and the main stage, called "What stage." Kanye was initially scheduled to play on Which Stage at 6:00 p.m. on satuday of the festival. At the last minute (and when I say "the last minute" I mean, that saturday) Kanye's timeslot was switched from 6:00 p.m. on Which Stage, to 2:45 A.M. on "What Stage." There is much speculation about this change. SuperFly Productions and AC Entertaiment (the wizards behind Bonnaroo's curtain) claimed that it was A. to give the audience a better feel for Kanye's glow in the dark themed show, and B. to start a new tradition of having a late night performance on the main stage (intestingly enough this tradition HAS continued, with the likes of Phish in 2009, and Jay-Z in 2010). These are very valid reasons. There is also a school of thought, though, that suggests Kanye threw a fit and declared that either he play on the big kids' stage, or he didn't play at all. I don't know if this hypothesis has ever been proven as fact--but it wouldn't surprise me. My initial reaction though was, "huh...that's cool."
Over the course of this saturday, I saw: Gogol Bordello, Ben Folds, Levon Helm, Jack Johnson, Pearl Jam (the saturday night headliner, and holy crap, was Pearl Jam AWESOME), and Lupe Fiasco.
Lupe Fiasco was my first real experience with a live hip-hop performance. And he was OUTSTANDING. Lupe came on at approximately 1:30 a.m. in "This Tent," and played for about 45 minutes. Never, had I been to a show like that. The energy thundering from the stage was raw, and provocative. Everyone in the audience was jumping and wailing and making love to the music. The musicians on the stage played their instruments like silk lightning while Lupe rapped over their rhythms with poise and wild cat grace.
"My God," I thought to myself. "I've never seen or heard or experienced ANYTHING like this. And in just a few minutes i'm going to go see Kanye West perform. THIS CAN ONLY GET BETTER."
Ah. How wrong I was.
I got back to "What Stage" at 2:30. 2:45 came, and went. A message appeared on the Jumbo-Screen declaring that Kanye would now be performing at 3:15. This news was met with the first round of many "boos" from the audience. But, still pumped from the Lupe Fiasco show, I figured, "Well, this isn't that uncommon, i'm sure he'll be out shortly enough." 3:15 rolled around, and the Jumbo-Screen now informed us that Kanye would now be performing at 3:30. The audience was baffled, and pissed off. I admit, my initial agitations began here. Kanye's ridiculously elaborate stage set up was constructed and good to go. What was he waiting for? The crowd meanwhile, was growing more and more restless. Cries of "KANYE SUCKS!" and "FUCK YOU KANYE!!" could be heard clearly from all around. While I was beginning to share those sentiments, I felt no need to shout them. Random slander never helps an already tense situation. At 4:30 in the morning, nearly two hours after his readjusted time-slot, Kanye FINALLY took the stage.
He didn't say hello. He didn't say anything about Bonnaroo, no "Thanks for having me." He didn't apologize for coming on late, or give any sort of explanation. He did not, in fact, say ANYTHING--but went immediately into his set--which--lasted only an hour. After his last song he exited the stage without saying even, "Thank you good night," and he did not come back on for an encoure. Those, my friends, are the highly offensive actions of an egotistical pratt--who is clearly only interested in obtaining his paycheck--and has no desire to connect with his fans. That, is a direct slap in the face of the collective audience. Never in my life, before or since, have I seen so many pissed off hippie-kids.
I should note, that there were several other late night performers that evening. Phil Lesh, Talib Kweli, Chali 2Na from Jurassic 5, and Sigur Ros (all of whom I could've checked out had I not been packed tightly into the the Kanye West crowd like a large corpse in a small coffin. I should also note, that again, while it has not been proven as fact, there is LARGE speculation that Kanye would not come on stage, until those other performers, were finished performing. And, again, I wouldn't be surprised.
Being treated as such, by an artist whom you admire, and whose work you very much enjoy listening to is bad enough; and reason enough to stay mad at said artist until the four horsemen of the apocolypse come crashing down from the sky and the Good Dude from the heavens up above pulls the whistle on life all over the planet. But here is something worse:
I have grown to detest Kanye West so much, because of this one event, that I refuse to listen to any of his new music. And that's really unfortunate (as the title of this blog suggests) because i'm certain its friggin genius. From what i've been told, "808's and Heartbreak" is truly a masterpiece. But I will never voluntarily listen to it. It's stubbon, absolutely. I don't take a lot of things seriously, and it's very rare that I hold a grudge like this. But where music is concerned, I am VERY serious; and I have no time, patience, or interest in an artist who takes his audience for granted.
Jesus walks with you, Kanye West. But I don't.
Thank you, and Good Night.
Next week's blog: my twenty favorite all time covers