The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Pablo Takes Canada

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Pablo Takes Canada

Kanye West, Edmonton. 2016

If any of you have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or even just ears for that matter, you’ll know that Kanye West himself was in Edmonton, Alberta this past weekend. Thanks to social media, you didn’t even have to buy tickets to actually watch most of the concert – and what you saw probably looked pretty flippin’ cool. That’s because it was. But what you didn’t see were things that maybe weren’t so cool – that stuff just doesn’t get the likes. Now, I’m a very big Kanye fan – not lowkey, I will defend him to the death – and after this concert I may or may not have reached my final form. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that this was the best concert I’ve ever been to. So I’m going to give you a little comprehensive overview of what was really great about this Life of Pablo stop, and what wasn’t.

Let’s start with the good stuff

  1. It was a spectacle without being a spectacle.

Honestly, I don’t even really know what I mean by this, but let me try to explain. Sometimes, when you go to a live performance, it’s more than just the artist and their talent on stage. You have background dancers, crazy laser light shows, cannons of confetti, – you get the picture. It’s cool, and it adds to the dazzle of stardom, but something about it takes away from what you’re really there for; the performer themselves. It’s like they hide themselves in this shroud of glitz to make up for something. This was not the case for West. What we got was a rapper on a stage (not a spectacle), which happened to be a floating stage (a spectacle), but without any kind of props or background support (not a spectacle), but with lots of spotlights (a spectacle). I think that math checks out in my head, ok?

2. Kanye West invented Time Travel.

This is a very true fact. Probably the truest fact in this whole article. The first four songs that Kanye played were “Famous”. Wait, did I just say the first four? Yes, yes I did. So he starts off the song, everyone’s getting into it, then he stops the song about 30 seconds in for some reason or another. At first, it’s kind of annoying, because obviously I was in the middle of some ridiculous dance move that can’t just be stopped on command and now I look like an idiot. But then it was spectacular because I was able to relive that same moment of a great track opening up, as well as screaming lyrics that I never thought I would get to scream at Kanye again. He went on to do this for a few songs throughout the concert, and it was surprisingly pretty hype. If that isn’t time travel then I don’t know what is.

3. He didn’t play “Gold Digger”.

Not that “Gold Digger” is a bad track or anything, but it just would have been too obvious of a tune for a show like this. And honestly, as much as I love his old stuff – College Dropout is probably my favourite album of his – it wouldn’t have added to the show if he played more tunes from that time in his life. This is how I see Kanye’s body of work: College Dropout, Late Registration and Graduation could have a concert all on their own; 808’s and Heartbreak and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy could roughly work together to make up a concert on their own; Yeezus and Life of Pablo live as separate entities of each other and therefore could also be separate shows. Ok, are you still following me? Basically, what I’m trying to say is that Kanye has evolved and changed very much over his career, which has caused his albums to feel so different from each other that they no longer work together in tandem. And honestly I don’t think Kanye even remembers the lyrics to “Gold Digger” anymore at this point anyway.

4. He told us what his favourite track was.

I don’t know why this stuck in my mind so much – maybe because it was the only personable thing Kanye did all concert (which I will get to) – but this was just really cool. “Touch The Sky” is Kanye West’s favourite track. And we all know that now. And now I feel like I am more connected to Kanye. And I think that means we are basically related. And that’s all I have to say about this.

5. He waved at me. 

I’m not sure if he actually waved at me, but I’m 84% sure he waved at me.

Bonus: “Fade”

I would just like to add really quickly that his performance of the track “Fade” was my favourite of the show. The image of him dipping in and out of the lasers has been burned into my mind like that one time I saw my friend’s dad walk down the hall in just his boxers. That was weird, but this was very cool.

Ok, now let’s get into the not so good stuff.

1.  He was arrogant.

I’m not writing this because it came as a big surprise to me – I knew fully well what to expect going into this – but you really don’t feel his arrogance until you experience it in person. He came on stage, didn’t say hi, didn’t thank the crowd, and then at the end he quite literally walked off stage and I’m pretty sure right out of the building. In fact, I think he might still be walking. I know Kanye’s personality is what makes him Kanye, and it’s part of the reason why I like him so much, but as a fan, it does kind of hurt. You pay X amount of dollars (and in our case a lot of x’s) for a ticket, you could’t be more excited, and then your favourite artist comes on and hardly makes it seem like he cares that you’re even there. Maybe I’m just needy, but something about the show made me feel like this was just another performance to him, and not a single thing more. We were nothing more than little pawns in this world he rules – which is partially true. There was only one moment in the show where I felt like this was more than just that to him, that he really felt something somewhere in that weird heart of his, but it was gone in an instant. But it was beautiful, if only for a moment.

2. He didn’t play “Real Friends”

I actually don’t even want to talk about this. I really like that track.

3. His second and third songs in were songs he was featured on.

I have nothing wrong with features, except when I don’t know every line to the song. So when Kanye played two songs he was featured on right off the hop, “Pop Style” (Drake get OUT OF MY LIFE FOR A SECOND) and “That Part” by Schoolboy Q, I was a little thrown off. I mean I still mumbled out some gibberish the whole time because I’m a real fan, but it brought the hype down a lot for me. You have all these expectations about what track he is going to play next, and then you’re completely blind-sited with tracks that are less than familiar. If you’re going to play a feature, play it in the middle of the concert when my vocal chords are justly shredded and I need a break. But, whatever.

4. Desiigner didn’t show up.

Now I don’t know whose fault this is, but whoever it was better fess up. I’ve been madly in love with Desiigner ever since I saw a video of him puke mid-dab on stage without missing a beat. Wow. Dreamy. So naturally I was stoked to hear that he was opening up for Kanye, because who doesn’t want to hear “Panda” on repeat for 45 minutes (does he actually have any other songs)? But, alas, Desiigner did not show up, and we were stuck waiting around for an extra hour. Is there no backup plan for when an opener bails? Doesn’t Kanye West have everyone’s contact info in his phone including the president? Actually, Barack Obama should have opened for Kanye; one last hurrah (R.I.P America). Anyway, it would have been nice to have Desiigner there, especially for “Father Stretch My Hands (Part 2)”.

5. He didn’t play every song he’s ever written.

This might be a little bit of an unrealistic request, but I think Kanye – who is a self-proclaimed “god” – should be able to pull this off. And I think this is why this wasn’t my favourite concert of all time. Knowing every single Kanye song is sort of burden, one that can only be lifted by hearing every single Kanye song played live (probably). When you love everything that an artist puts out – bold statement, I know – it’s impossible to avoid disappointment, because  there is a 0% chance that you will hear every song that you want to hear. And this is tough to accept. But maybe this should be in the positive section of this article, because being pleased with every track played and being disappointed by every track not played really shows an artist’s ability to produce genuinely good music.

Kanye West will forever be my favourite artist, I’m calling it now. Though this wasn’t the best show I’ve ever seen, it was an excellent ode to Kanye himself. Someone who has devoted more time and effort into his music than anyone, and someone who has put their reputation on the line to stand up for what they really believe in. That’s not something you see in an artist a lot. He’s not afraid to do what he wants, and though that can make you feel a little downtrodden as a fan, it does make you appreciate the absolute personality that is Kanye West.

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