Live: Kanye West's Big And Loud And Secret Show
Kanye West w/Pusha T, CyHi Da Prince, Mr. Hudson, Big Sean, and Kid Cudi
Skylight One Hanson
Thursday, June 9
Better than: Not being let in.
Thunder shook Brooklyn, drops of rain fell, and over a thousand people took refuge in Skylight One Hanson, inside the old Williamsburg Savings Bank, for a much whispered-about Kanye West show. We were the chosen ones. If the world was going to end, at least we would be safe behind a velvet rope.
Every recent Kanye concert in New York has been an exercise in power and validation. There was last summer's early-hours secret show at The Box, last November's hundred-dollar VIP scramble at the Bowery Ballroom, and now this. Details, few and far between, had been saved for but a few "influencers." Couldn't get a ticket? You probably didn't deserve one.
This was a beautiful space saved for beautiful people. A PR email not-so-casually announced that fourteen celebrities would be in attendance: Diddy, Estelle, and Hype Williams; models of Sports Illustrated, Victoria's Secret, and King (ha) caliber, too. These beautiful people came to see a show of enormous proportions, Kanye outdoing Kanye.
Rumors swirled that Jay-Z would be therehell, his bodyguard Norm stood upstairsand that because of a strict-in-name "no cameras allowed" policy, the two of them would perform cuts from Watch the Throne. (Jay-Z never showed up.)
Extending sixty feet in the air, the ceiling probably made even Mr. West feel small and had an unfortunate result for someone who so demands to be heard: the sound was pretty terrible. (It would be no worse than when Q-Tip, during his DJ set opener, said something that might have been a call for people to raise their hands. No one raised their hands.) The issue would be addressed, though never completely fixed; the audio supposedly sounded perfect in the monitors, and high-quality footage will be released on Vevo.
Forgetting the muffled sound, the light show and stage performance were pretty outstanding. Red flashes made the room feel as if it was the inside of a volcano; gold lasers streaming through the ever-present fog recalled aurora borealis. Turrets of smoke would erupt on cue during "Power" while Kanye stood on stage like a god upon Mount Olympus. At times he was Thor, throwing down lightning and watching it strike. Then, with shades removed, he was happier, benevolent, skipping around for the combo of "Good Life" and "Gold Digger." During "Flashing Lights," Kanye stood atop a hydraulic pillar that lifted him ten feet in the air, making it look like he was floating above a thick fluffy cloud. It was awesome (in the most biblical sense of the word).