By Jonathan Fuchs, Music Director
2016 has been a humongous year for Kanye West. With the release of his eighth record, The Life of Pablo, and having the entire entertainment industry on the edge of its seat after nonstop tweets, controversial music videos and strange fashion shows, Yeezy really proved himself to be what he thinks he is: the best.
With his live tours always being theatrical and intense, it was hard to tell what exactly Kanye was going to do for his 39-date Saint Pablo Tour. When the videos and articles broke the internet after the tour’s first night in Indianapolis, showing Kanye on a flying platform suspended 20 feet above a mosh pit, fans went insane, calling it the best stage design Kanye has brought us yet. Just the photos themselves were enough for me to buy a pair of tickets to his show in Columbus.
Walking into the smoke-filled, dimly lit Schottestein Center was like walking into The Coliseum to watch people fight to the death. The eerie, bass heavy music that played before the show really introduced an excessively epic and overwhelming atmosphere that churned stomachs and raced heartbeats. The place was filled with skinny college students wearing Saint Pablo shirts, everyone anticipating the greatest show ever. After an hour of anxious waiting, the lights unexpectedly went dark, Kanye’s infamous platform lowered and thousands of people screamed at the top of their lungs.
Kanye started his set off with The Life of Pablo hits “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1,” “Pt. 2” and “Famous,” while standing still and slowly flying above everyone on the floor, which quickly turned into an insane mosh pit. The entire crowd belted the lyrics with Kanye, which made the lines like, “Now if I fuck this model / And she just bleached her asshole / And I get bleach on my T-shirt / I’ma feel like an asshole” even more hilarious with thousands of people screaming them together.
The biggest surprise of the night was Kanye performing his features from other people’s songs, like ScHoolboy Q’s “That Part” and Drake’s “Pop Style.” The energy of these tracks were unforgettably addicting and fun, with the crowd going crazy with every track.
The second half of the set felt a little more personal, with Kanye going into “Runaway” and then into an auto-tuned mumbled conversation with members of the pit. He then broke into an emotional, tear-inducing rendition of “Only One,” before going straight into more bangers like “Waves” and “All of the Lights.” The set suddenly ended two hours later with a personal performance of “Ultralight Beam,” with the gospel choir sample screaming through the loudspeakers, leaving everyone in the building in awe.
Visually, the show was absolutely spectacular. Just the flying platform by itself was cool enough, but the lighting that followed Kanye around the arena was amazing, with a few minute-long breaks where panels of light would move to a soundtrack of the eerie music played before the show started. The minimal stage design would’ve been a challenge for anyone else, but the lighting and Kanye’s natural stage energy were still able to bring the house down.
Kanye’s Saint Pablo Tour is the pinnacle of his art. It feels stripped down, lacking any backup dancers, a live band and even a stage, but still manages to be emotional and exciting without the need of their presences. It was for sure the best show I’ve seen all year and the entire crowd left the show feeling extremely overwhelmed, not really knowing what just happened. If Kanye really is God, we just went to church.