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20 Memories From Kanye West’s Saint Pablo Tour

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For the last two months, Kanye West has been zig-zagging around the country for his Saint Pablo tour behind his seventh studio album, The Life of Pablo.

On Saturday, Oct. 22 and Sunday, Oct. 23, he took to his now infamous floating stage at Oracle Arena to execute two knock-out shows that left fans — most of them donning either Yeezies or Pablo tour merch — begging for more.

Here are 20 memories — consisting of observations, thoughts, facts, and other random musings — from the show. And if you missed Kanye’s Oakland dates and regret it, fret not! He’s playing in Sacramento and San Jose in mid-November.

  1. The floating/suspended stage was brilliant. Not only did it look super awesome, industrial, and futuristic, but it was an ingenious idea as it ensured that EVERYONE, no matter how shitty their seat assignment, got a good view.
  2. Never have I been to a concert with more bizarre lighting. There were only two lighting options throughout the entirety of Kanye’s show: Either the bottom perimeter of the stage was lit up with soft yellow lights that shined down on the audience below, leaving Kanye shrouded in darkness above it; or the lights were beaming down on Kanye from above, while the rest of the stage (including the crowd below it) went dark. Despite these two lighting options, Kanye mainly rapped in a hazy gloom for the bulk of the show, save for one weak, purplish light that occasionally shone down on him. Literary analogy for this: Kanye reminded me of the character Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire, who, out of fear of letting her true age be known, covered the light bulbs in her sister Stella’s apartment with paper lanterns so as to reduce the brightness of it (and thus the visibility in the room) because she can’t “stand a naked light bulb, any more than a rude remark or a vulgar action.” After last night, I’m pretty sure Kanye feels the same way.
  3. There were droves of people laced up in Yeezies and/or clothed in merch from his The Life Of Pablo pop-up stores from August, bootlegged apparel they bought online for half the price, or T-shirts they bought that very night, which averaged $65 a pop. Kanye’s current monochrome, neutral colors phase was also very prevalent among the fashion of attendees.
  4. There were also tons of Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian lookalikes. Obviously this had to do with the fact that Kanye is married to Kim and thus part of the Kardashian/Jenner clan, but methinks this was also a stark reflection of just how freaking popular and influential these two women are on females aged 18 and up. Curious as to how to dress like a Kylie or Kim facsimile? Here are some pointers: Wear your hair straight, long, and parted in the middle. Glue on some fake eyelashes. Stick to caramel and brown lip colors, and opt for matte stains over glosses. Body-con clothing all the way. Solid colors, no patterns. Stick to earth tones. Wear ankle boots. Go light on the jewelry, especially the gold, but fasten at least one choker around your neck. Long nails, don’t care. Keep your self phone glued in your hand so you can take selfies whenever, wherever.
  5. While waiting in the darkness for the show to begin, you will inevitably stare at the floating stage, which is already square above the audience, and wonder how Kanye will get up there. Unfortunately, you’ll never solve that mystery as he just sort of appears. (You will, however, see the stage lower and him hop off at the end of the show.)
  6. Hearing the opening lines to Kanye’s controversial Taylor-Swift-sex-reference-song “Famous” four times in a row. Presumably, the rapper was trying to impress just how much he doesn’t give a fuck about what other people think about his work or the (possible defamatory) things he’s saying about them.
  7. If “Real Friends” is your favorite song from TLOP, you wouldn’t have heard it. You also wouldn’t have heard the entirety of “Highlights,” of which Kanye only sang the first half of the first verse, or the original Kanye hit, “All Falls Down.”
  8. But there were plenty of “highlights” from his discography before TLOP, including “Blood On The Leaves,” “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” and “Stronger.” And by “highlights,” I unfortunately mean snippets of each track were played.
  9. Other good news: Kanye did play through the full recording of “All Of The Lights.”
  10. Kanye barely talked between songs. Like, at all. I only remember him saying two things. “I want you to remember this night for the rest of your life,” he said at one point; a pretty cocky statement from an equally cocky guy. The other time he talked was when he announced that he “was taking a little breather.” For about 30 seconds, he stopped singing and caught his breath. Then he started counting down from 10, and when he reached two, announced “break’s over!” I guess this just goes to show you what a hard-working, regimented dude he is. Perhaps if we all applied this same logic or even 30 second break tactic to our lives, we’d be just as successful as Yeezy. Maybe.
  11. Mosh pits formed underneath the floating stage. Frenzied, wild, and possibly dangerous mosh pits, that is. I think it’s safe to say that a large part of the audience was probably grateful they weren’t on the ground floor. Then again, seeing a mosh pit at a hip-hop show for a pop star was pretty cool.
  12. If you were willing to purchase a ground floor ticket and brave the sporadic mosh pits, your ticket would have include the added-on perk of experiencing what it is like to LITERALLY BE UNDERNEATH KANYE WEST.
  13. Kanye didn’t give a fuck and he spat on stage. Given that it was virtually impossible to have an assistant throw him a spare towel to wipe off, I suppose his onstage spitting was warranted.
  14. Chained to the stage with a rope connected to the back of his shirt, Kanye looked at times like a mental patient, captive, or prison inmate.
  15. Want to dance like Kanye West? Easy. Just raise your arms straight in front of you at 90 degree angles and wave them around like you’re either a zombie or someone who is walking in a dark house at night. Apparently that’s his go-to move of the moment.
  16. Cool lighting. Drake might have copped James Turrell’s illuminated colored lightbox scheme for the music video to “Hotline Bling,” but that didn’t mean Kanye’s light game wasn’t on point. Pencil sharp beams of red light spliced through Kanye’s body, and heavenly beams of soft white lighting descended down in cones from the roof onto the audience, as the floating stage languorously floated towards it.
  17. Kanye has rolls on the back of his neck. They may or may not remind you of a Chinese Sharpei dog.
  18. It was loud. Granted, most concerts are, but at points the bass was so low and thundering that my skin vibrated. Fortunately, it felt good, as if I had popped a Mollie before heading to the show.
  19. People acted confused when Kanye’s Sept. 9 late addition to TLOP, “Fade,” played. With its deep bassline, jungle rhythm, and Chicago house melodies, fans, especially the male ones, struggled with dancing to the track. Definitely more EDM than hip-hop, listeners most likely felt bit disconnected — though they perked up when Kanye riffed the lyrics to Aaliyah’s “Rock The Boat.”
  20. Never was the line, “And now I look and look around and there’s so many Kanyes,” from “I Love Kanye,” more prophetic and meta. Because damn was it true.
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Jessie Schiewe @j_schiewe

Jessie Schiewe was the Music Editor for SF Weekly from Fall 2015 to Summer 2017. She is now the editor and publisher of OK Whatever (www.okwhatever.org), an online publication dedicated to all things weird and strange. You can send her mail at jessie@okwhatever.org.

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