It was a hit parade for Kanye West at KISS FM's Wango Tango Saturday night (May 9), rolling through 15 of his biggest tracks that dug into his deep back catalog as well as his most recent jams.
For the iHeartRadio-produced event that ran from 4 p.m. to nearly 10 p.m. at the Stubhub Center in Carson, Calif. -- on a bill that included Justin Bieber, Calvin Harris, Sia, Nick Jonas and Meghan Trainor, among others -- West was the show's headliner and de facto main attraction. He received shout outs from the other performers throughout and took the stage around 9 p.m. to a palatable anticipation from the audience.
In the few minutes following Bieber's performance and before West's, even the KISS FM DJs couldn't temper the crowd's excitement, as they tried buying extra time awkwardly interviewing R5 until the stadium quickly erupted in chants of "Kanye, Kanye, Kanye, Kanye." The bleachers rattled, tempting collapse, and then he took the stage with bright lights behind him and audio of distorted guitar blaring, as he started into "Black Skinhead." West followed that with "I Don't Like," "Mercy," "Power," "Stronger," "Runaway" and "Looking for Trouble."
"I know everybody at the radio station is is scared I might talk some shit tonight," he said, following with silence like he might actually have something else to say, and then starting into "Heartless."
West said very little throughout his 40 minute set -- a point emphasized both by his reputation for rants and the setting. After brushing off radio on his last album, Yeezus, West has reaffirmed his interest in the medium more recently, as he's slowly rolled out new songs leading up to his next album that's now currently titled Swish. But as the Kanye we've been seeing recently seems to have a lot to say -- though perhaps more tactfully so than from in past years -- if there was ever an opportunist's ideal forum to get his opinion across to the youth of America, this was it. With a stadium packed full with largely teenagers and 20-somethings, much of the same audience that was shrilling for Bieber and Jonas were singing along word-for-word to West's biggest tracks.
But if there had been any actual concerns of West showing up with a chip on his shoulder or a mission to subvert, that was hardly the case. He even self-censored his songs and nearly none -- if any -- of his track's curse words. And as the whole Wango Tango event ran like a top 40 radio show, West fell in line with little chatter and a straightforward set featuring tastes of his hits, though rarely an entire song. If there was any intention other than putting on a fun show, his modus operandi seemed to be to offer a reminder of the past decade since he dropped College Dropout in 2004 and the incredible rise that followed, all of which was well chronicled in real time on our FM dials.
"Jesus Walks" followed to massive excitement, followed by "Touch the Sky," "All of the Lights," "Good Life," "Gold Digger," "Bound 2" and his newest track, "All Day," to close things out.