There are few experiences more enthralling than live music. Simply being in the same vicinity as an artist that you idolize is surreal, but the art behind live performance encapsulates the magic of music. From the art direction and special effects, to the crowd and artist energy, concerts mainline dopamine to music lovers and effectively unite people from every walk of life.
Music is something of a universal language. Being one of the pillars of Burbs, we gathered three of our writers to reflect on their favorite concert experiences. Now, more than ever, we could all appreciate the power of live music.
The Yeezus Tour: 11/23/2013, Madison Square Garden, New York City
Close your eyes and imagine, feel the magic New York on acid, seen through Yves St. Laurent glasses...
Walking into Madison Square Garden that night was one I will never forget. The Garden had a strong fragrance of weed and alcohol all over. Kendrick Lamar was the opener and this is the beginning of what would become my standom for Kendrick. He performed all the hits from good kid m.A.A.d city and he had the arena shaking during “m.A.A.d city.”
YAWK YAWK YAWK
After a blistering 45-minute performance came the long anticipation for Mr. West. Over an hour before he came on stage but every single millisecond that passed in waiting for Kanye was well worth it.
Yeezy season approaching...
“On Sight” was the first song off the setlist and it was the perfect bone rattling song to wake everyone back up from the malaise.
He’ll give us what we need...
It was during the so-called chorus of the song when Kanye took the time to acknowledge the crowd. Turning to every side of the arena calling for applause. To that point, I’ve never been moved by anyone’s presence in my life and even though I was sitting in the upper section, I felt the Holy Spirit take over my body. This was motherfucking Kanye West at his motherfucking peak. Even writing this out, I still feel the goosebumps as if I was there right now.
That night was magical: the pageantry, the set designs, the moving pyramid of a stage, the lights, the actor who played Jesus Christ that talked to Kanye. Every meticulous detail Kanye poured over was amazing. During ESPN’s documentary The Last Dance, Michael Jordan said something along the lines that he never took a night off because he played every game like it was the first time someone was watching him play. Kanye truly took that same approach when designing every single aspect of this show.
I already had appreciated the artistry that is Kanye West. It took 808’s & Heartbreak for me to realize that he is more than just a rapper and he is an artist; it took The Yeezus Tour for me to realize Kanye West is a genius in all realms and not just music.
Magnificent Coloring Day: 9/24/2016, US Cellular Field, Chicago
Say what you want about Chance the Rapper, but one thing is for sure – the man knows how to put on a show.
For his one-day, one-of-a-kind festival, he was able to recruit renowned stars such as Lil Uzi Vert, Tyler, the Creator, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, John Legend, Alicia Keys, and Skrillex to bring their talents to Chicago’s South Side. However, the biggest star of the show wasn’t even on the lineup.
Kanye. Fucking. West.
Rumors ricocheted across the stadium all day, but no one knew for sure if Chicago’s son would make an appearance. In fact, Kanye was on his Saint Pablo Tour at the time and had a show scheduled in Nashville that same day. With that in mind, I personally wrote off the idea of him showing up just to avoid getting crushed if he didn’t.
One of the artists who actually was on the lineup, Young Thug, failed to show up (which still hurts to this day). Thugger was supposed to go on after Tyler (who had a phenomenal set), but there was an awkward 30-minute gap after Tyler’s set. We were starting to lose hope when out of nowhere, “Father Stretch My Hands” began to play. The crowd absolutely erupted and thousands of kids in the stands rushed onto the field (my homies and I included). Pure madness ensued.
Kanye performed for about 30 minutes, give-or-take, and his whole set felt like an out-of-body experience. I got to witness him and Chance beautifully belt out “Ultralight Beam”; the photos of them performing together are etched into music history. Ye also made sure to play plenty of his 2000s hits as well as a healthy mix of his recent music.
Then, he disappeared just as mysteriously as he arrived. Nothing felt real afterwards.
Although Yeezy’s surprise set was easily the highlight of the day, there wasn’t one bad performance. Every artist’s performance was a pleasure; it was truly a stacked day of music. It was also two days before my 18th birthday, so it was quite a wonderful moment in my life. Looking back at pictures and videos from that day gives me an instant sense of euphoria that, quite frankly, I’ve only felt a handful of times since that day - one of the best of my life. I’ll cherish the memories of Magnificent Coloring Day forever.
Lollapalooza: 7/29/16, Grant Park, Chicago
All the stars just seemed to align on that beautiful Friday. Besides seeing Drake and Lil Wayne for my 13th birthday, (shoutout to my boy John’s mom for suffering for three hours and bringing our annoying middle school asses to that great concert), I had never been to a music festival or a rap concert. As my 15-year-old self, two days from 16th birthday, was nervous as hell taking the train without my parents and honestly shell shocked from seeing molly-induced zombies meandering around the park, it was a necessity for my rap music filled desires to witness the superb Mac Miller, Future, and A$AP Ferg.
Mac Miller had a 4 P.M. set and my friend Matt and I camped out for TWO AND A HALF HOURS to have great real estate for the concert (I mean, you gotta do what you gotta do for Larry Fisherman). As Mac does, he blessed my ears with what’s still one of the greatest live performances I’ve ever seen. I’m going to try to make this next statement politically unbiased as possible. “Fuck Trump” screams echoed my own bellows as he passionately wailed one of the greatest concert songs ever, “Donald Trump”. As some may not agree with this, I am 100% sure that Mac could’ve united conservatives and liberals for the first time ever with his musical power and beauty (also, it was before Donald Trump was our president, which seems like centuries ago). Mac opened with the banger “Loud,” which seared my eardrums. He then closed with the graceful “Nikes on my Feet,” resurrecting my soul after the hour-long mosh pit that damn near broke my legs.
Off the rush that Mac provided, Matt and I rushed over to Future’s set and got as close as possible. We were drenched with a 32-song setlist that was jam-packed with songs off Purple Reign, DS2, and What A Time To Be Alive. The timing of the concert couldn’t have been better as the most recent Future albums at the time are still my favorite to this day. I'll never forget when Future screeched, “Took a shot of Henny, I've been going brazy, brazy,” as “Stick Talk” shocked me out of my mortal state. I was placed in the most insane cluster of people smacking against each other with aggression. It was violently peaceful.
We then fulfilled our destiny of completing the holy trinity of concerts and with all the remaining energy I had, I set my sights for the American Eagle stage where Ferg was playing. The rest of the night was filled with A$AP Yams memorials and straight mobbing. I couldn’t have been blessed with a better setlist for each artist; it’s still one of the most unforgettable days that my sensations could have ever experienced.
-Playboi Marti Gross