The St. Pablo Tour…
…also ranked as one of my top five concerts to-date. I can honestly say that this show was in its own league, in terms of the crowd, animation, and overall production. There are so many adjectives to describe what I experienced on October 7, 2016 and I am forever grateful that I had the funds to treat myself to such a highly anticipated show.
Before Ye made his way to Chicago, I had a few ideas in mind about what the St. Pablo Tour would entail, particularly with two performances coming to my hometown. With buzz surrounding Kanye’s public and private life (Kim’s alleged robbery in Paris, Kid Cudi lashing out at Kanye before admitting himself to rehab, Chance surprising everyone with a performance by Ye at Magnificent Coloring Day), it never once crossed my mind that he would cancel [or postpone] this show. Not once. This seemed to be a topic of discussion right before the day of the concert, but my biggest concern was whether or not he would perform bangers from all 7 of his studio albums.
I was on the fence about whether or not Kanye had anyone opening for him on the tour. Fortunately, my entire section (105) seemed to have partaken in successful pregames. The stage was the main event, yet I managed to keep my eyes on Ye for the entire show. He sported (what I’m guessing was) a grey Yeezy tracksuit and a concrete-hue pair of Yeezy3s. I can’t even put into words how incredible it was to witness this performance, his rebellion toward gravity, and the crowd participation at the United Center.
While I don’t believe that the Yeezus Tour (December 2013) compares to this show, I will say that the emphasis of innovative production on both tours shares a similar aesthetic: the utilization of negative space with the assistance of state of the art projectors. The color scheme of the night was obviously orange, but the beautiful sighting was all of the still flashes throughout the audience. It was difficult not to want to record (or Snapchat) every song – mainly because a majority of Kanye fans have been loyal since day 1.
My peers and I have had multiple discussions ranking and debating every album, yet I still can’t come up with a concrete order to rate them from best to worst. Late Registration is one of my favorite albums, and I would say that Ye performed the least tracks from this project. But that’s totally fine, he strategically performed his greatest hits and the audience sang right along.
Let’s talk about the club level inhabitants…where do I begin? At first glance, I thought there were about 200 bodies on the floor, underneath that giant stage and light track. No, there were probably more like 300-350 individuals jumping around and doing other things that us Chicagoans do. The orange overhead lights created what resembled a football huddle, multiplied a few times. There were instances when it looked like the stage was literally hovering over the very tips of their heads.
When I say that Ye performed his greatest hits, I say this wholeheartedly and from the voice of someone who believes that Kanye West is a musical genius. I think we can all agree that Ye’s best album is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, so when he performed “Runaway”, “Power”, and “All Of the Lights”, I couldn’t help but reminisce on the beginning of my own breakup in 2010. There’s something about that piano intro and bass that Kanye trying his best to sing that reminds me why I love the range and versatility of his music so much.
If I’m being brutally honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of The Life of Pablo. I listened to it all the way through five times, about two weeks after it’s release, and out of the 18 tracks (on the first released project), I only liked 9 songs (in order from most to least):
No More Parties in LA
Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 2
Waves (after a few plays)
As expected, Ye didn’t perform 30 Hours, FML, Real Friends, or No More Parties in LA…well, I’m actually quite surprised that he didn’t perform Real Friends or No More Parties in LA. Either way, the Chicago leg of the St. Pablo roster was perfect.
“Fade” definitely takes the cake for the most well-executed light show and performance of the show. The red lasers and elevated stage created an illusion that Ye was just the size of a pea, at least from our seats.
Ye also forgot to perform “Homecoming”, which my fellow attendees were slightly disappointed about. Graduation is also one of my favorite albums, because lyrically, he did graduate and reach a new height in his career, especially from a commercial standpoint. This album always takes me back to my junior year in high school, and understanding Ye’s story more at that point in his career. “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” was performed on Friday, and it is every Chicago-bred hustler’s anthem.
Someone made a joke yesterday, saying that there was a reason Ye didn’t peform “Niggas In Paris” (too soon?)…but honestly, I’m glad that he didn’t: shout-out to Marquette University for playing that song out for me. He did perform a few tracks from Yeezus, which is definitely at the bottom of my ranking of Ye’s albums. I did enjoy his performance of my favorite track “Blood On the Leaves”, in addition to “New Slaves” and “Black Skinhead.” Yeezus was A1 in terms of production, but also reflected the dark(er) side of Ye that took a lot of fans some getting used to.
808s & Heartbreak is also in the top five list of best albums, and I feel like this was the album that fans had to [personally] experience to really vibe with. I also believe that the production of this album was before it’s time, and that’s part of the reason many didn’t understand or appreciate it. I went through my first heartbreak in 2007, and I resonated with 808s 100%. “Heartless” was the perfect track to perform during The St. Pablo Tour because it represents growing pains in all forms. Not to mention, everyone was singing along, and when Ye pointed the mic toward the crowd, it was evident that some souls were still hurt.
The College Dropout is one of the mostly highly-debated albums, yet he didn’t even perform “Last Call”, “Spaceship”, “All Falls Down”, or “Get ‘Em High”…but he did perform “Jesus Walks”, so I’ll take it.
Ye also made time to give us a tear-filled (or maybe that was just my sensitive a**) performance to “Touch The Sky,” which always takes me back to blasting it during soccer game warmups.
From my POV, The St. Pablo Tour gets an A+. I had a few friends in attendance that have a) never attended a concert, b) have never attended a Kanye show, and/or c) are able to cross this off of their list of Kanye performances. Whichever category you fall into, this was the Kanye show to witness, hands-down.
I saw Ye for the first time in 2004 when he was on the “Confessions” tour with Usher – talk about a gap in time and noting a decade of changes in both artists. The Yeezus Tour was my second Ye show, which was also an innovative production, but there’s just something about Pablo (and it’s cult-like following) that allowed Ye to showcase his best projects and collaborations over the years. With dozens of features, Kanye performed some of his collaborative tracks on Friday as if the other artists were actually present.
The crowd was not only beautiful, but it was more than diverse: multiple ethnicities, fashionable individuals left and right (it was more like the entire stadium), and overall an older, more mature crowd. True Ye fans have been down since day one and, in my opinion, should be able to rank his projects from a fan perspective, not based on album sales or what went platinum, etc.
The St. Pablo Tour was 100% nostalgic and reminded me that anything is possible. If Ye can perform an entire show on a moving stage and with people hating on him 24/7, then all of us Creatives can stay focused and pursue our dreams. Kanye is more than just a producer, rapper, entertainer, and music mogul. To me, he is everything that speaks to the importance of capitalizing on multiple hustles/talents, and working until you no longer have to introduce yourself.
Sidenote: I had every right to stuff my face with a giant slice of pizza, an order of French fries, and 5 jumbo shrimp from Pie-Eyed after the concert, because I was dancing and singing for the duration of the entire St. Pablo concert – not to mention, I’m just getting my voice back.
Check out the show recap on my podcast, Opinions & Assholes, featuring my partner-in-crime and I ranking Ye’s albums: