Festivals

Kanye West's Bonnaroo Return: Minimal 'Yeezus' & Maximum Media Hate During Inspiring Set

Kanye West
Photo: Jeff Kravitz, FilmMagic, Inc

"Where the press at? Fuck the press!"
 
This sudden outburst about halfway through Kanye West's Friday night headline performance at Bonnaroo -- during the peaceful, slow-moving outro of "Heartless," no less -- certainly grabbed the attention of this particular member of "the press."

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West seems to be transitioning out of his "Yeezus" phase: the evening's setlist was roughly the same as his multi-stadium US-tour and he still wore a face-obscuring mask, but the set itself didn't contain the tour's trademark ice mountain and circular video screen. Instead, both sides of the stage were decked in white sheets, with the back wall featuring one massive video screen that stretched ceiling to floor, creating a giant cube that the audience peered into. During "New Slaves," the screen was backlit red to give the appearance that Ye was rapping from inside a giant mouth, and during "Runaway," the screen showed a giant waterfall as the fog machines at the bottom gave off the illusion of mist. Even with this minimalistic approach to the set design, the show was just as visually stunning as we've come to expect from West's performances at this point.
 
If the toned-down set design were to represent his descent from Mt. Yeezus, lines delivered during the long outro of "Runaway" could be characterized as West taking a rare departure from his usual aggressive stance to one of modesty. "The fact that there are so many people here tonight, it humbles me," he said. "It humbles me in a way it gives me strength. I know I set my goals very high. What I promise you as I stand here tonight, 37 years old, this is only the beginning."
 
Kanye West is so upfront and in-your-face about what he expects of himself that it makes people feel threatened.  "I ain't going after nobody on the radio," he continues in his "Runaway" outro. "I'm goin' after Shakespeare. Walt Disney. Mozart. Henry Ford. Howard Hughes. David Stern. Elon Musk. You can only achieve as high as your dreams."
 
Dreams of grandeur are commonplace, but saying outright that you wish to stand alongside the greatest icons in modern history is, for some reason, only something done by Kanye West. He can cross one thing off his bucket list: the U.S. festival that reviled him for a half-decade has embraced him once again.
 
Here is Kanye West's Bonnaroo 2014 set list:

"Black Skinhead"
"I Don't Like (Remix)"
"Mercy
"Cold"
"Clique"
"Can't Tell Me Nothin'"
"New Slaves"
"Power"
"Stronger"
"Say You Will"
"Runaway"
"Run This Town"
"Diamonds of Sierra Leone"
"Heartless"
"Jesus Walks"
"All Falls Down"
"Touch the Sky"
"All of the Lights"
"Good Life"
"Bound 2"

Encore:
"Blood on the Leaves"