By Dylan Johnson
I attended Kanye West’s “Saint Pablo” Tour in DC on September 8th, 2016 and it was incredible. It was my first time seeing Kanye live and in person, and it couldn’t have been any better.
Mr. West decided to take a step away from his theatrically themed shows that came with his “Yeezus” Tour in 2013-2014. Instead, he chooses a more traditional performance of a huge 30+ song mix of his best songs, and of course his infamous rants scattered through the set. Being that it is Kanye, it was anything but traditional. The whole 2-hour performance took place on a floating platform under his stunning lights that flashed on and off throughout the show.
The experience didn’t just start when the lights went out. People stood in lines surrounding the Verizon Center hoping to buy a piece of merchandise (Gildan shirts) sold at ridiculous prices, but we still buy it, cause it’s Kanye. The surrounding streets were flooded with people which caused a lot of traffic getting into the arena.
I left at 6 with hopes to be there by 7, but parking was nearly impossible to find so I walked along with other fans. After hopping out of the merchandise line (which was surprisingly quick) I walked into the arena expecting the show to start at around 8:30…I was wrong. Our section (211) was fairly empty until about 9 which it quickly filled up, as well as the general admission standing room on the floor which easily filled up to the point where we could no longer see the ground. The lights went out at exactly 9:30 as the elongated intro to “Father Stretch My Hands” came on and the stage tilted downward, with Yeezy slowly ascending over the crowd to start the show.
My biggest concern prior to the show after seeing the floating stage was whether sitting in a section other than the floor would still ensure the full experience. A minute into the show and that thought was gone once everyone in our section was on their feet bumping to every single song. He followed FSMH with “Famous” which had the whole venue screaming due to the incident with Taylor Swift. He also did a few of his features on songs such as his verses on “That Part” by Schoolboy Q and “Pop Style” by Drake. “Touch the Sky,” “Facts,” “Power,” and “Blood on the Leaves” all stood out and had the crowd moving.
There are no words to describe the energy in the arena throughout the whole show. The GA floor was swaying back and forth constantly under Kanye’s lights beneath his stage. Every seated section was on their feet until the end (even through his rants). Thousands of sweaty bodies poured out of the Verizon Center around 11:30pm scrambling for rides. Overall, it was an amazing experience and would definitely recommend the show (or any Kanye tour) to anyone who can go.