Live: Kanye West! The GZA! Brooklyn Bowl! Offline! CMJ!


Kanye West
Brooklyn Bowl
Saturday, October 23

Better than: Pretty much everything but the Blow.

Let us go now to Brooklyn Bowl, where the hour is just past 2 a.m., the enthusiastic but mostly ineffective CyHi Da Prynce is winding up his set, and bounding out now comes Kanye West himself, Horus chain like a wrecking ball, pyramid rings gleaming, launching into “So Appalled,” the crowd that by now knew this was coming screaming anyway, Prynce at some point wandering off the stage, West shrugging off his coat and staying, shrinking a large building down to something smaller, more intimate–more CMJ-like, even. (Not the letters “CMJ” have a lot of meaning for Kanye West.) He did five songs. It was great.

West’s presence at Pitchfork’s Offline Festival was not, by mid-evening, much of a secret. Word of mouth morphed into increasingly definitive text messages as the night went on; by the time we made it over there, at about 1:30 a.m., it was a sure thing, West having already been sighted somewhere inside Brooklyn Bowl. (“He’s here,” the editor of a prominent music recommendation website told us, as we walked in the door.) West was there, like the rest of us, to celebrate Fools Gold’s third anniversary, to support his former tour DJ, A-Trak, and because it was Saturday night, and where else was he going to find that many people to perform to?

That he was at a Pitchfork-sponsored festival in the midst of a larger, citywide one probably didn’t mean much to West, but he did somehow figure out that he was essentially performing directly for the internet, and Twitter, and people who download G.O.O.D. Friday tracks within moments of when they emerge. Thus there were nothing but new songs here, “So Appalled” into “Monster,” the mic cutting out somewhere in there to exactly zero decibel difference, the crowd alternating between chanting along with his lyrics and just yelling “KANYE! KANYE! KANYE!” (we peg the sobriety level in this large room at about five, maybe ten percent, no more), a meditative “Devil In A New Dress,” a brief pause, a wholly unruly “Power,” and finally “Runaway,” VMA-samples intact, Pusha T absent in the flesh but not in spirit, as Kanye rapped his verse too, just for kicks.

And then he was gone, disappearing into the scrum at the back of the stage as an incredibly unlucky GZA had to wander out and follow him. A more anti-climatic “Liquid Swords” into “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” we have never heard.

Critical Bias: There is no musician we care about more in 2010 than Kanye West.

Overheard: YEAHHHH

Random Notebook Dump: Taking notes is not exactly what we were doing last night.

“So Appalled” (with CyHi Da Prynce)
“Devil In A New Dress”