Kanye/Kendrick: Wish I could have

Kanye West Yeezus Tour

I shelled out Hallowe’en candy last night to likely 150 children. We have seven pieces left from eight bags I purchased hastily yesterday afternoon after the Kanye West Yeezus tour cancelled for the second time in two weeks its Vancouver date.

Full credit: It is getting better at cancelling. The first cancellation came about five hours ahead, by which time out-of-towners had settled in to hotels or, in my son’s case, taken the ferry over.

This one was a full seven-hour notice, so my son didn’t hop the ferry and my guess is that the hotels fielded cancellations. Ticketmaster is a little slower in relaying the info: Last time I was told three hours ahead; yesterday, two.

But here is what I was hoping to experience:

1. That my son, a true aficionado, was going to school me on the nuance in the work of Kanye and opening act Kendrick Lamar. I have the music, I listen carefully, I like it truly, but I think I know what I don’t know. Now both of us are shaking our heads about the opportunity.

2. That family and friends, all over the arena, were going to get a classic adventure into larger-than-life music that only comes in a big-hall show with ambitious vision. I think they’re all inclined now to get refunds. Twice bitten, always shy. Judging by the online comments in various places, there will be plenty of face-value tickets all over the place for the Third Coming.

3. That I was going to witness an artist at his peak deliver a lengthy and over-the-top show early in a tour, before clips and bootlegs are spirited on to the Internet, set lists seem stale, Kanye runs out of outrageous things to tell media along the way, risks dialling it in, and the anticipation saps out of the event. Not sure I can wager safely on that now.

Here is what I was also hoping would happen:

1. That Kanye would decide to make lemonade out of lemons and play a stripped-down event here somehow, perhaps on the spur of the moment for charity, on either of the two nights he was able-bodied but not able-equpped to perform. In his inventive artistic mind there must have been an idea or two about how to do something in short order that would have made his fans feel better not bruised and that would have brought value instead of saddling hundreds, maybe thousands, with out-of-pocket expenses.

2. That, for all of his creative use of media in recent years, for good and not-so-good, Kanye hasn’t chosen to speak directly to his audience. His label, Def Jam, issued a statement (along with links to purchase Yeezus online). But nothing from him: No video, no audio, no text, not even Tweets to his 10 million followers.

3. That, in recognition of the technical challenges of the tour, Kanye’s handlers would have done what a lot of other superstar tours do: Doubled up on the props and had two sets of trucks on the road at alternating dates. Someone in his midst, perhaps his entire team, didn’t understand the logistical nightmare that comes with a complex stage show and back-to-back tour nights and signal the need for either less ambition or more support. It has meant the postponement of other dates (tonight’s in Anaheim was scrubbed two days ago, before the Vancouver one, in anticipation of the inability to break down, get to another city, and set up within 24 hours). At the very worst, that would mean an accident like the one day before yesterday that damaged his massive video screen would have postponed a show a day or so sooner (and kept people from flying here, as they did). Perhaps it would have even permitted the second screen to be quickly carted in (or, at least, permitted alternating subsequent shows to continue). Taking a tour off the road for a week is bad enough, but if there aren’t new measures to shore up the logistics, this might happen again.

I am old enough now to have seen too many amateurs play in the professional realm of tour management: border delays due to bad documentation, late shows due to spotty commitments to on-time performance, questionable sound and video snafus, you name it. But at the superstar level, there is an admirably militaristic approach to staging shows, and even when the star gets a little snippy and wants to delay taking the stage an hour or so, we can live with it.

We don’t a) walk out, b) seek refunds, or c) shell out Hallowe’en candy. The audience last night didn’t get a chance for a), many of us will take advantage of b) and never come back, and some of us at least got to enjoy c) as some joyful solace from the evening.


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