Kanye West Performs at the American Airlines Center in Dallas

The American Airlines Center in Dallas was filled with eager fans ready to see Kanye West perform on The Saint Pablo Tour Thursday night. Photo Courtesy of Nolan Payton

By Seth Jones | Reporter

Whether you know him from his music, his fashion line, his marriage to Kim Kardashian West or just his outlandish demeanor, you cannot deny West’s influence on pop culture.

That is never more evident than at one of his concerts.

Fans arrived in waves to the American Airlines Center to see the performer at on Thursday, Sept. 26. at 8 p.m. but ended up feeling “honored by [his] lateness,” to quote his 2007 hit song “Stronger.” He took the stage over an hour late but still managed to keep his audience completely captivated.

Smoke machines filled the entire arena with smog before the show ever started. This was strange, but at the same time maintained a certain significance throughout the show by highlighting the overall theme.

West took the stage on a platform suspended by cables that hovered above the mosh pits on the floor level of the arena.The stage consistently moved around the arena, highlighting the audience in a way I’ve never seen before.

He played a masterfully woven mix of ten songs from his newest album, Life of Pablo, along with many throwbacks that left the audience with nostalgic feelings. The most intimate moment of the show was during his performance of “I Love Kanye” when he laid down on his stomach on the platform stage and and sang directly to his fans on the floor.

Emanating from the bottom of the stage were intense lights that lit up everyone underneath the stage. From the stands, this put the attention on fellow fans as opposed to Kanye, himself.

This display of reserve by West took me by surprise. This is the same man who once said, “My greatest pain in life is that I will never be able to see myself perform live.”

While I assumed that a Kanye West concert would be self-centered and self-worshipping, in reality, this tour is far from that.

The fog machines, the softer lights on him, the brighter lights on the fans and the blurry video feed of him on the big screen all pointed to what could be a new version of Kanye.

He created an atmosphere that gave the impression that fans don’t really know him until they see him live. Kanye took the audience on a journey of 31 songs that was capped off with an unbelievable performance of “Ultralight Beam.” In this finale, a beam of light shone down from above and the stage moved under it to bathe Kanye in light for the first time in the entire concert as if to tell the audience that they could finally worship him properly.

Regardless of your personal opinion of Kanye West, if you get a chance to see him live, take it. It changed what a concert is to me, and as someone who loves concerts and has attended many, that is revelatory. A concert is no longer just a person or a group of people singing and playing instruments to me. Now I thirst for a concert that challenges me in the way an abstract painting does: with complexity and depth beyond what the art form is.