Kanye West falls short of redemption at Bonnaroo

Anti-Kanye graffiti still decorates the walls at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. / Bruce Boeko
Anti-Kanye graffiti still decorates the walls at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. / Bruce Boeko

Hip-hop icon Kanye West returned to headline Bonnaroo Friday night after his disastrous 2008 performance.

West’s notoriously late and brief 2008 set spawned a festival tradition of shorts, with the catch phrase “f*ck Kanye” being screamed and spray-painted across the festival every year since.

While West only missed his start time by roughly 10 minutes, he still managed to keep fans waiting throughout the set, leaving a bad taste in the mouth of Bonnaroo regulars.

His earth-rattling performances of recent singles like “Black Skinhead” and “Cold” early in the set gave validity to the idea that West would be able to redeem himself to festival-goers. His talent matched with bold image choices—remaining masked throughout parts of his show as well as only using inverted color filters– gave his headlining spot the potential to be legendary, like his 2011 Coachella performance or last year’s elaborate “Yeezus” tour shows.

However, West was, once again, his own downfall.

West mirrored the common thought that, while he may be talented, his personality made him an unlikable figure throughout the night. He stopped the set multiple times to rant about issues ranging from his 2008 Bonnaroo fiasco to his hatred of the press as well as taking over-indulged dramatic pauses between cuts.

The enormous speed bump in the set came when West devoted more than 10 minutes to a half-auto-tuned rant about a comparison between himself and “radio rappers” and critics mentioning he is not relevant enough to play the Super Bowl.

The rants, which are a typical occurrence at Kanye shows, did not go over well with many festival-goers who left for other shows mid-way through the rant.

While he continued with his set by blazing through early tracks such as “Touch the Sky” and “All Falls Down,” his egotistical ravings stuck with festival-goers, taking away from the amazing performances West delivered the rest of the night.
However, he finished strong with “Bound 2” and an electrifying encore of “Blood on the Leaves.”

While his performance abilities are undeniable, his personality rubbed fans the wrong way. It became quite apparent that his return to Bonnaroo was less about redemption and more about making a statement to his detractors.

While he played a timely, entertaining set, his lack of genuine interest in redeeming his 2008 blunder will surely keep the “f*ck Kanye” chants flowing throughout “The Farm” for years to come.

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