St Pablo Tour Lands
Where: Indianapolis, IN
Venue: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
On: 9:30 p.m. Off: 11:40 p.m.
Crowd: Millennial madness and Gen z hippies/hip hop heads
Observations: Bankers life didn’t plan the gate opening well at all. Epic fail. Shout out to the crowd otherwise blamed for chaos for keeping it chill.
Overheard: Dude getting tackled by security after being a dumbass
Spotted: Indy Fever, a few Pacers and Travis Scott
The scene: Anxious Yeezus worshippers wrapped in Life of Pablo tees, behind Kanye mask cutouts and juking to the beat.
With the doors finally open an hour late the crowd roars and shuffles in with self-composed order. The dread heads, shambled white boy comb overs, calf high socks in vans and booty huggers in high heels dance their way through the security check points filling the vivid foyer of Bankers Life Fieldhouse with color, texture and a buzzing angst. ‘Yeezus for President’ spray painted shirts are splattered across torsos as the wearers march their way indoors.
Once inside the stadium we peer into darkness for what feels like ages. The glow of smartphones gives the appearance of galactic stars shining upon our celestial beings. Bodies are gathered in the pit anxiously chattering and ambling to and fro. Confused and peering through the mist that’s sitting in the air, I can’t find the stage. There’s a giant screen where one would assume a stage would be present but one would be wrong. As soon as I resolve that something unusual in the works, the grating that has been hovering far too low to the Fieldhouse floor begins to move, the lights come on streaming stark halos outward and the gridiron breaks into pieces revealing the star himself sitting atop a square platform floating some 10–20 yards in the air. Shouts of amazement take the place of restlessness and Kanye stands up, cast in the light and the show begins — Father Stretch My Hands.
Now, I’m not a tremendous fan of Kanye’s content but I do admire the artistry. His attention to detail and storytelling is quite spectacular.
This is West’s first North American tour since 2013 when he debuted the spectacle that was the 53-show theatrical rendition of the Yeezus album. A marvelous collaborative piece when he partnered with , scenographer Es Devlin, light designer John McGuire, artist Vanessa Beecroft and fashion house Maison Martin Margiela. Sans introduction or opening act, the launch of this St. Pablo show starts as abruptly as it culminates. As the black platform precariously floats above an all consuming unaware crowd below, it angles this way and that. The jumbo screen awakens with a larger than life size full body shot of Kanye cast in a luminous eerie incandescence. The Alien has landed and we are all being abducted.
Fifteen minutes in, sporadic glitches have surfaced and conductor Kanye appears. Disconnected from the action directly beneath him where security has tried and failed to keep a clear perimeter under the scaffolding that hangs above, the kids have gone wild and mob rushed the center. Mospitting, head banging, and quan’n — nothing will stand in the way of this alien invasion.
A few songs later and someone toss’ panties on the platform, Kanye chides the security below to break the perimeter “the whole concept is they can go where ever they want whenever they want”, he says. In the same breadth he advises a young girl to stop pushing and requests for security to help someone off the floor. (Kanye you’re maturity is showing)
In total isolation above, he was disconnected from the guests for the majority of the show beyond a few instances when he requested the stage to be lowered ever so slightly. The ominous black cloud glided across the arena and the magnetic audience below drifted in unison. Despite the terror of this platform crashing to the floor, the crowd showed no fear, cheering and bouncing along.
Kanye is a man of complex extremes. His endeavors are either fastidious or abrupt. One the wake of his last ground breaking, intricately planned Yeezus tour, one would expect meticulous planning and grandeur. And thats what we got. A full lenght concert on a complete floating stage has been done before and Indy got it first. A creative stroke of genius, The Life of Pablo has been regaled by critics (and by West) as a work of contemporary art, on the edge and transcending norms in everything, recalling its Madison Square Garden listening party-cum-fashion show in February.
As the show winds down, West addresses the crowd with an apology to Nike, a thank you to Adidas, a shout out to the unbelievers “they sometimes call me crazy but I always call them lazy” and a blessing to the crowd. The last song draws to close, the scaffolding raises, Kanye switches platforms, and we are bathed in a light with a choir humming a tune that lures us into anticipation. The beat changes, we are all curiously waiting for what is sure to be a monumental closing act — the lights come on and the show is over. Need I say, tease? All fourplay and no orgasm. But the fourplay was great! I expect West had something bigger planned for the ending. I can’t imagine a storyteller such as himself would leave with such a cliffhanger.
Confession, this was my first time seeing Kanye live, however I’ve seen his productions — thanks internet — and while an impressive feat and beautiful concept, the execution needs some tinkering. False starts, replays, camera glitches, security issues, scaffolding choreography errors, alien ships, lighting tricks, never before seen aerial contraption manipulation and dripping some 30 songs, the show was an interstellar occurrence that will long be remembered. Indianapolis may have been the first sighting but I have a hard time believing it will be the most epic.