Kanye West Returns to Bonnaroo for Epic Set of Hits, Rants
Kanye West at Bonnaroo [photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images]
Back in 2008, Kanye West headlined the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., and he made headlines for showing up hours late, not performing until 4:30 a.m. A massive backlash unsurprisingly ensued, and Kanye unsurprisingly retailiated with one of his classic ALL CAPS blog posts, blaming Pearl Jam (who'd played before him) and festival organizers for the incident and claiming, "This is the most offended I've ever been… this is the maddest I ever will be."
[Photos: Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival 2014]
Six years later, as Kanye returned to the festival to play the main stage this Friday night, he proved that while some things change, other things stay the same. This year, he was punctual (arriving an acceptable, within-grace-period eight minutes past his advertised set time). However, he seemed as angry as ever. Apparently parenthood (Kanye's daughter, North West, celebrates her first birthday this Sunday, on Father's Day) or his recent marriage to Kim Kardashian (who was reportedly backstage at Bonnaroo) hasn't mellowed the man very much.
photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Hitting the What Stage wearing a Hannibal Lechter/Hellraiser-esque full face mask (which he kept on for the first 20 minutes of his set), Kanye opened with the intense, heavy-breathing Yeezus track "Black Skinhead." This was soon followed by "the realest s--- I ever wrote," Yeezus's even more ferocious "New Slaves." But the most aggressive moments came between songs, when Kanye went off on his famous rants.
Many of his barbs were aimed at the press, specifically journalists who'd covered the Bonnaroo 2008 incident and had allegedly distorted the facts. At first it didn't seem like Kanye would address that scandal at all, but he finally did about an hour into his set — interrupting, perhaps not coincidentally, the song "Heartless" to say: "I did Bonnaroo six months after my mom passed. Pearl Jam went on three hours long. Where the press at? You gonna write about all these motherf---ers putting their hands in the air?"
photo: Wade Payne/Invision/AP
The latter comment was a dare, of sorts, for journalists to write about the overwhelmingly positive response that Kanye was supposedly receiving from Bonnaroo-goers this time around. But of course, as is the case with most Kanye concerts, the crowd response was actually mixed.