Monday, July 07, 2014

i saw kanye and pharrell at wireless festival, kanye went on a big rant and it was pretty awful

Have to say, I couldn't have been happier with our Friday evening plans in London town: off to Finsbury Park in glittery North London we were to go, to enjoy a spot of Kanye West and Pharrell Williams of an evening. Let's spare you the finer details and indulge in heartfelt emotional reaction for now.
Of Pharrell, let's say this much: beforehand we were reeling off a list of five tracks it would be jaw-on-floor deliriously excited to have included in the setlist, and every one of them was - plus two neither of us dared dream might be included.
We were also profoundly moved by Pharrell's thoughtful and impassioned speech that called upon the ladies of the audience to rise up and make 2014 the year of female empowerment. Pharrell! You hero! Come on board! What a key cog in the flourishing fourth wave of feminism you'll be! Like we said, we were genuinely moved by Pharrell's sermon, and didn't feel it remotely undermined 15 minutes later by the performance of one of his big hit songs of 2013, where he and his pals famously sing their wholehearted tribute to consent and the No More Page 3 campaign: Blurred Lines.

At least we can rely on Kanye West for a consistent viewpoint on gender politics though, right gang? (Sample Yeezus lyrics: "hurry up with my damn massage/hurry up with my damn ménage/get the Porsche out the damn garage")
Anybody that's familiar with Kanye's live show will be aware that he's become partial to an occasional rant or two. Tonight's is much longer than I'd previously witnessed. A fair estimate, avoiding all temptation to exaggerate, would put this at a 15 minute long tirade. A harsh critic might suggest that this was something of a drop in pace from the rest of his set, but it's okay Kanye! We understand! I get nervous and ramble when I have to do public speaking too! During a strict Catholic upbringing, I was in a school play re-enacting Jesus's crucifixion, and formed part of a mob that had to repeatedly chant “crucify him!”. I had gotten quite into the role, but had not heard the previous instruction to only chant said phrase three times, meaning my young self chanted “crucify him!” at the top of his enthusiastic voice, on his own, to his entire hysterical school. I've gotten nervous about public speaking ever since that day, but I've learnt some tips I feel I can pass on to Kanye whenever he too gets all 'angsty' in front of a crowd: if you want to hold their attention, make your point in two minutes, not fifteen! You'll still have people's attention then! They'll totally get on board with your 'vibe'!
One doesn't doubt that there's truth in Kanye's claims that he's felt discrimination from the fashion industry, but by the end of the 15 minute rant, nobody was listening anyway. Amongst the many, many heckles audible from the crowd came calls such as "move it on, bitch!" and "I seriously don't know how he's going to come back from this". He partly does; he knows most of his fans would rather stick around and hear tracks like Through The Wire, All of The Lights, and All Falls Down than go home early, but tonight still represents perhaps the worst a Kanye show can be without actually turning the whole thing into a KLF-esque experiment in actively trying to ruin as many people's nights as possible.

Elsewhere, fond memories remain of Kanye stopping 'the Good Life' halfway through to insist that whoever controls the feeds to the giant videoscreens that flank the stage not cut between different camera angles – God forbid they might try and give the impression of a dynamic live experience – because the camera angle which is head on with Kanye is Kanye's favourite camera angle. For our money, we delighted in the revelation that Kanye evidently insists on having monitors in his eye-line on stage at all times so he can constantly watch how the audience is seeing him perform on stage. The realisation was of great comfort to us on our two hour commute to Old Street.
I am therefore happy to recommend Pharrell for all future festival headliner engagements. Kanye has begun the final stage of transformation into the celebrity he's going to be – his Axl Rose phase, if you will. And like Axl, he'll perhaps be better off in the long run if we don't continue to give him our attention and money year after year, tour after tour. And with that, we're off to listen to She Wants to Move again.