The Gospel According to Saint Pablo

For the second time my boyfriend, Eric and I braved heavy traffic and long merchandise lines to go and see one of the artists we  share a love for, Kanye West. West was playing his second of five (afterwards West added a sixth show) concerts at The Forum in Los Angeles for his Saint Pablo Tour. The first time we had seen Yeezy he was playing at The Staples Center for his Yeezus tour (which was amazing, Jesus was there, it was a spiritual experience.) Once we parked our car, hid joints inside my bra, and bought all of our much coveted Pablo merchandise, we made our way down to the floor.

I had bought these tickets for Eric’s birthday at the beginning of August and the anticipation of the show had been building in our apartment ever since. Because we also had general admission floor seats for the Yeezus Tour, there was no way I could downgrade Eric to regular seats; especially since Kanye would be floating above the stage for the Saint Pablo Tour. There was no way, no how. In pure Kanye fashion, there was no opening act. Eric and I drank beer and watched the floor fill with all kinds of Kanye fans: celebrities, hip-hop fans, and my personal favorite teenagers with there moms. In fact, there were more teenagers there then I had ever expected to see, and their moms looked happy to hold their purses and stand against the wall while their teenage sons followed Kanye’s stage back and forth, side to side all while jumping and rapping every single lyrics. This is one of the few times that it is good to be a Ye fan,because most of the time I am defending why I am actually a fan. It is exhausting, to be honest, everyone wants to know WHY you are a Kanye fan, they want to know HOW you could be a Kanye fan. But then as the lights dipped low above us and started to brighten under Kanye’s feet, the question that I’m constantly trying to answer, surrounded by Ye haters, is answered and his music started.

He opened the show with Father Stretch my Hands Pt.1 the intro was extended and the audience vibrated with anticipation to start the song. When it did, and Kanye’s stage started to move, you knew why you were there, because everyone there was a fan of Kanye, everyone knew every word, everyone was on their feet and jumping (even the moms), following Kanye’s stage from one end of The Forum floor to the center, where Kanye was stationed for majority of the concert.

For the beginning of the show the music was the main focus, mostly because the lights were kept low, there was smoke and fog machines in every direction and Kanye was sort of an omniscient, invisible being that floated above us, making sure we enjoyed the music and the emotion of the people we were surrounded by. There were times when I couldn’t even see Kanye, he was just there, and that was all part of the planned experience. Because part of the vision is that we didn’t need to see him, we heard it and felt it blanket us in this world of bass, attitude and ego. If anything, the Saint Pablo tour is a live cultivation of Kanye’s relationship with his fans.

The first set of songs, which included both parts to “Father Stretch my Hands,” Nike diss track, “Facts,” “All Day,” Can’t Tell me Nothing” and his verse to “Don’t Like,” were an ode to this ego. It was the smart, sarcastic, Kanye with attitude, shown through songs and performances orchestrated by West. He even told the crowd when and how much to crowd the stage, made the crowd sing the opening lines to Famous, repeating his continuous dig at Taylor Swift, 3 times. It was the Kanye that everyone in the world hates, the arrogance and reason that most of us have to defend our fandom, and everyone there relished in the attitude.

The second set was a thought provoked transition that allowed Kanye’s attitude and ego to collide with his musical talent. The set list included, “Jesus Walks,” “Wolves,” “Flashing Lights,” Highlights” and ended with “Runaway”. In this set Kanye connected with the audience on that common love that we were sharing, which was the music.  He danced his own “kanye dance” around the floating stage and was feeding off the energy of the crowd.He had the audience sing the finishing verse of his song “Heartless” off of the “808s and Heartbreak” album. You could tell that Kanye was truly living his greatest dream right there, he laid his arms out, closed his eyes, and enjoyed hearing thousands of people singing his song. He enjoyed it so much, that he made the audience sing the same lines THREE times. (In my video you can hear Eric turn to me and say, “So fucking Kanye…too many times tho”.)

It was during the second set where Kanye stopped the concert and told everyone to move to the outside of the stage in order to see the screens playing for the people in the seats. What I thought would be a transition into a rant, perhaps about Jay-Z, or what has happened to his wife, or pretty much any kind of Kanye rant you would expect at one of his concerts. But that’s not what we got. What the audience received was a shorter version of the video Kanye had made for Kim on her birthday. It was a personal moment in the show for Kanye, who just stood on stage in the dark with his hands folded; while also giving the audience the perfect photo opportunity of him on stage, never one to miss an opportunity. The video concluded and Kanye moved into “Only One” a song written from the perspective of West’s late mother about his wife and daughter. This was the part of the show where West showed his sentimental side, if you can believe he even has one.

The third and final set of the show was then a thank you to everyone that had come out to see the show. He opened with the acappella “I Love Kanye”, a song that is aims to encompass everything Kanye knows and perceives about himself. He then transitioned into a range of songs that encapsulated his creativity with “Waves”, “All of the Lights” and “Fade”. West ended the show with “Ultra-Light Beam” the gospel track that opens the Pablo album. West ends the show with his stage moving towards the beam of light in the middle of the auditorium. Throughout the show, the stage moved from one end to another and then, side to side. The stage even leaned from side to side allowing West to be even more closer to fans. So when the stage started to move to what looked like it’s final resting place, playing to the song of “Ultra-Light Beam” it made the moment even louder, a grand final.

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You Can Go Home Again…But Wait Ten Years

Having a Ten Year High School reunion seems a little bit redundant in this day and age. Am I too young to say “this day and age”? I mean with all of the connectivity that is available to us right at our fingertips it seemed a little silly to hear that one of my friends that was on our High School Senior committee was experiencing high anxiety  trying to plan our NFHS Class of 2006 Ten Year Reunion. Was there even a point? Most of the people that we had graduated with still lived in our hometown, and if they didn’t there was indeed always Facebook. But still, in a stance of support I flew across the country for 5 days to participate in the festivities planned out by classmates I haven’t seen (some of the them) in ten years.

And I must admit…I was pretty damn glad I did.

Leading up to the days of my leaving for my reunion, life was stressful. Everyday there was something that needed to be done, that of course is life but I felt as though I was chasing an ultimate goal, a constant struggle between being busy all the time and actually being productive. My relationship seemed like it was circling a drain, my job was annoying and I found myself counting down the days for a break. I NEEDED a break….I also it turns out needed a really good laugh.

And that is what I did for 5 days, I laughed until I cried everyday..I also ate pizza everyday. But hey it’s Buffalo and in Western New York we don’t judge you based on carb intake. And of course I still have those friends that I see and speak to on a daily basis, best friends for life that I had left behind when I moved to Los Angeles. But when I went to my reunion I couldn’t really tell the difference between those friends and the friends I haven’t seen in years, the jokes were the same, the laughs were deep and hearty. There were also people that I hadn’t spoken to even during our high school years, and I found myself laughing with them too. Time had passed and we had all grown older. On the walls of our High School there would be posters that said “No one will care what you wore in High School” and “No one will care if you were popular or not” they would stare at us as we walked from class to class attached at the hips of our best friends and cliques; always brushing off these statements because we would be popular and best friends forever. But of course those posters were right about us, of course our cliques didn’t matter anymore and everyone was okay with that.

Living in the past for five days allowed me to come back home feeling refreshed and relaxed. It was a weekend of effortless fun. Fun that didn’t need to be thought about or explained. My everyday life is a constant worry about what I need to do, what my goals are, what is due soon, what I want to do. My crazy L.A. life was waiting for me when I got back, my bills are due, my apartment needs to be vacuumed, and the fires are still burning in the mountains. But for five days I forgot about what I needed to do and instead spent time enjoying what I have done.