Recap: Kanye West's Saint Pablo Concert in Houston

Kanye West redefines the art of live performance once again

A rap show is simple. There’s a stage. There’s a guy or girl on said stage. He or she typically has a microphone, some stage lighting and a DJ. Sometimes, the rap performer is backed up by what is known as a “hype man” or “hype woman.” But that’s about it.  

When Kanye West's Saint Pablo tour rolled through Houston's Toyota Center, however, he once again redefined the art of hip-hop live performance.

 

Throughout the show, Kanye took out his pocket knife and drove it right through the hip-hop concert box. West rearranged the grand Toyota Center arena to match his even grander vision. 

He swapped out the standard stage for a floating stage. The stage hovered above the crowd like a “magic carpet,” eerily suspended from the roof. 

Instead of the static setup of a traditional concert stage, he opted for a moving stage that traveled the ends of the arena.

As the floating stage drifted from east to west during “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. II,” it dragged the crowd in the “pit” area along like a magnet.

With no opening act, West was the locus of the show for about 2.5 hours. He was tethered to the floating platform by way of a wire that extended from his back to the floor of the red, rectangular stage.

It was kind of surreal. 

Another unique element of the setup was the lighting. If you’re used to the typical light setup with the spotlight trained on the performer, Saint Pablo will disappoint you.

The show was almost pitch black, save for the light beaming atop the pit from underneath the stage. West could have used a stunt double and you wouldn't have known the difference.

If you're an ardent Kanye fan you may have observed that he is somewhat obsessed with light. He has a slew of songs on the subject: “Flashing Lights,” “All of the Lights,” “Ultra Light Beam.” When he performed these songs, the crowd instinctively whipped out their cellphones.

Inside the dimly lit arena, the sea of smartphone flashlights resembled stars in the galaxy.

If it sounds like I’m spilling a lot of ink on the aesthetic components of the show it’s because Kanye West’s catalog speaks for itself. Last night, he ran through virtually every song on The Life of Pablo, interspersed with a litany of hits from other albums. 

He closed out the show with the song that opened TLOP. The stadium went pitch black. When the lights came back on, there was only an empty platform dangling up high. 

And just like that, Pablo was gone. He came, saw, blessed us with his creative energy and vanished--presumably aboard his spaceship.

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Adaso, Henry. "Recap: Kanye West's Saint Pablo Concert in Houston." ThoughtCo, Oct. 31, 2016, thoughtco.com/recap-kanye-wests-saint-pablo-concert-in-houston-4090933. Adaso, Henry. (2016, October 31). Recap: Kanye West's Saint Pablo Concert in Houston. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/recap-kanye-wests-saint-pablo-concert-in-houston-4090933 Adaso, Henry. "Recap: Kanye West's Saint Pablo Concert in Houston." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/recap-kanye-wests-saint-pablo-concert-in-houston-4090933 (accessed November 19, 2017).