At Coachella, the Gospel according to Kanye West


INDIO, California. – Some days, Kanye West is sacred and some days he is secular. Determine which ones can be a slippery challenge, determined by tolerance to dissonance, appreciation of the tension between mind and action, and the ability to forgive.

The last two years have been some of the toughest in the West. He divided his supporters by publicly supporting President Trump and began making fires with his untimely statements on slavery and mental health, among others. Starting last spring, he retired to Wyoming to complete a cycle of albums for himself and for others, and recalibrate himself emotionally. But in the fall, he was back in the headlines for a disturbing meeting with Trump in the Oval Office.

West and his team performed at the top of a custom-built hill for the occasion, separated by a barricade of the crowd of several thousand people who showed up early to see him play. There was a set for the choir, dressed in the combination of mauve and rust tracksuit and matching ponchos; a second just above for West, his collaborators and the group; and a final platform at the very center for whoever ran the service at any given time. In the background, the mountains of Santa Rosa and San Jacinto stood, serving as silent sentinels.

As a show, it was immersive and diffuse – sometimes it was thunder, sometimes it was haze. From the superb choir, there were rickety versions of the gospel numbers "How to excel" and "Satan, we are going to slaughter your kingdom." There was a jump, almost Baltimore-club taken on Fred Hammond "This Is the Day, while a new song, the patient "Water", has never found its place.

In the middle of the half-time, singer Teyana Taylor performed a "never would have done" sweet and soothing, then came down to communicate with the dancers who, for most of the show, had been scattered nonchalantly around the hills behind the performance, but which & # 39; d gathered at the foot of the stage for an intense session of plagues and trampling.

It is at this point that West is also activated. He followed Taylor down the hill and into the crowd of dancers who at that time mingled with the audience of the VIP section. It was a glorious Mosh.

This Sunday service was announced just three weeks ago, but it was a show that people have been gearing up for their weekends. The festival-goers got up early to have a place of choice at the barricades. West Kim 's family members, Kris, Kendall, Kylie, Travis and others – were sitting on a cloth lying on the floor. Justin Bieber, Jaden and Willow Smith and members of the K-pop Blackpink girls group watched the series. It was almost certainly the first (and last) time that DeRay Mckesson and Lil Pump shared the same oxygen.

The lines at the "Clothes of the Church" merchandise tent, which began more than two hours before the show, have never faded. There were Jesus Walks socks for $ 50, Trust God t-shirts for $ 70, and sweatshirts and sweatpants for a lot more. It was a reminder that, aside from gospel music, it was not actually about a church.

And yet, this performance has always privileged the power of the group over the zeal of the individual. The choir was phenomenal, even adding a questioning air to "Jesus Walks". And the dancers, dozens of them, moved with a rigorous enthusiasm. At the end of the show, members of the public were encouraged to hug their neighbors.

The only time the West really took center stage was during "Jesus Walks". He walked around the hill hitting, followed by the choir, and at the end of the song, he fell to the ground. For about a minute, surrounded by no less than six cameramen, he knelt in a respectful silence.

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