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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

More Kanye

Posted by Alison Hallett on Wed, Jun 4, 2008 at 4:12 PM

I was there, too. And like my colleagues, I Have Opinions.

We got to the Rose Garden at around 9, in time to see Rihanna strut through a high-energy set. I wasn't expecting to enjoy her much—having once been puppet-mastered into dancing for like 30 minutes to "Don't Stop the Music" by a DJ at Gaycation or someplace who I'm sure thought they were being very hilarious. But she was peppy and cute, with her Jamie Lee Curtis hair and big-girl boots. Yes, there were umbrella props for "Umbrella"; no, she did not reference Portland's precipitation levels. She didn't say much at all, really, besides "we got any bad girls in the house?" which for some reason compelled neither Erik Henriksen nor myself to respond.

So... Kanye. Kanye, Kanye, Kanye.

The most interesting aspect of the show to me was the contrast between his full-fledged megalomania and his inspirational, don't-let-anyone-take-your-dreams-away messaging. Those elements of course aren't at all mutually exclusive, but it's rare to see them coexist so nakedly on the same stage. Most musicians who aim to inspire don't immediately turn around and declare themselves the best in the universe. But Kanye wants it both ways: Follow your dreams and you too can be like me; and don't even fucking try, because I'm the best there is.

As for the show itself, it was pure spectacle, in the best sense. Ridiculous, over the top, enthralling.

I disagree with Ezra on the Journey moment, when Kanye sat down for a breather while the band played "Don't Stop Believing." Within the context of his relentless self-mythologizing, it made perfect sense. Part of the fun of the show is wondering exactly how far this intergalactic ego trip will take us. Why not go all the way?

If I was disappointed at all, it was by the ending, when Kayne got himself back home through sheer force of Kanye-genius. I expected some crowd participation, a Tinker-Bell style "clap your hands if you believe" moment—I wanted, even, to play along—but I should've known better. Kanye needs us to love him, to understand his "mental problems," to buy his $35 T-shirts and $80 concert tickets. He certainly doesn't need us to clap him back to earth.

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