Last Night: Kanye West, Jay-Z and the Watch the Throne Tour at Toyota Center
Photos by Marco Torres
8:08: You know what's just never a slick move? Red wine in a plastic cup. Just an FYI, ladies. "Oh, you're drinking red wine? That's classy. Wait. Is that a plastic cup? Never mind. I forgot this was the Walmart break room."
8:58: Ooh, neat. There's a guy here wearing a jacket just like that one Miguel wears in the "Sure Thing" video. He must've just gotten here from the future.
9:20: Oh fuck. Show's starting. "H.A.M."
9:20:15: Crap. Man-boner already. Figured this would happen -- Jay and Kanye are two of the best concert performers on the planet -- just not this early. Time to play the sly Sit Down To Try And Conceal The Boner game. Not awesome.
9:20:30: Just in case there are any young dudes without dads reading this review, a quick rundown of some practical ways to hide a boner:
(a) Sit down. Say something like, "I'm tired. I'm going to sit down. Not because I have a boner though." (b) Put both hands in your hands in your pockets. Say something like, "I'm tired. I'm going to put my hands in my pockets. Not because I have a boner though." (c) If possible, grab, like, a sweater or something and hold it in front of it. Say something like, "I'm tired. I'm going to put a sweater in front in front of my penis. Not because I have a boner though."
Those three should get you through your 30s. Life lessons here at Rocks Off.
9:21: Kanye is on stage alone. He's wearing a leather skirt. Under that, he has leather pants. And he looks like just about the coolest.
If Young Paul Newman (perhaps the coolest guy in history) had sex with a separate Young Paul Newman from a different universe (totally plausible, bro; didn't you see The One?) and they had a Baby Paul Newman, and Baby Paul Newman was twice as cool as his Young Paul Newman daddies, Baby Paul Newman would still be like, "Yo, oh shit. Kanye West is looking like just about the coolest in that leather skirt." That's what's going on right now.
9:24: Kanye and Jay are on two separate elevated stages. The walls of the stages are light walls. When the music stops, they display slow motion pictures of what might be Dobermans barking. Not sure what it means, but it's provocative.
9:27: A gigantic flag unravels down from the ceiling. That can only mean one thing: the Pledge of Allegia-- ohp. Never mind. They're doing "Otis." Almost called that one perfect.
9:38: They've split. Jay is doing a solo set. "Jigga What" to start.
9:40: Kanye's back. "Can't Tell Me Nothing." Jesus. This place is out of it right now. You know those fighting games where you get to play as a team, and whenever one of your guys starts to lose even just a little energy, you swap him out for someone equally menacing? That's what Jay and Kanye appear to have planned tonight. And that shit is super effective.
9:45: "Jesus Walks." Still in a leather skirt. Still looking like the shit. Even Jesus is probably looking down like, "Yo, dad, fa'real, fa'real: If I started wearing a leather skirt, would you be totally pissed?" Do they sell leather skirts at the Galleria, because we're totally going right the fuck after the show to get one.
9:55: "Diamonds from Sierra Leone."
9:56: MY NAME IS HOV, H TO THE O-V.
10:11: More duet stuff. While Kanye raps, they play a clip of Martin Luther King Jr. giving a speech. While Jay raps, they play a clip of Malcolm X giving a speech. That's kind of... eh. Your call.
10:15: They're sitting right in the middle of the ledge around the middle section of the stage. The hum of "New Day" pumps on. That's the song from WTT where they rap to their unborn sons. It's very cool and seems very honest. They show a close-up of Kanye's face. He looks serious as shit. He looks like how Kobe looks when he's about to try to rip someone's heart out in the 4th quarter; growling, almost. Neat.
10:17: Um, our Beautful Wife, very much into the show, looks like she's about to cry. Weird. She does this, but not very often anymore. When we were first dating, she'd cry if we ran out of milk. Then she had her abdomen sliced open so they could remove two humans that were living in her uterus. She's sledgehammer tough now. You could tear her arms from her torso and she'd mostly just be upset that you got blood on the floor that she's going to have to clean up, a task made exponentially more difficult because you just pulled her arms off. Gahd, you are SO inconsiderate.
10:24: ahahahahaha. While prowling around the stage (at different points in the show, they'd play clips of animals -sharks, dogs, lions -- being very animal-y), Jay locks eyes with a young-ish girl in a neon shirt to the left of the stage. She's rapping word for word with him, jumping around like a madwoman. He stays with her, acknowledges her, then walks away. She loses her shit, turning to her friend and grabbing at her. Excellent moment. She'll probably remember that for the rest of her young adult life.
10:25: Oh snap. Kanye, back on one of the solo stages, is being raised towards the sky again. "Runaway" is chirping towards fruition. The whole stage is glowing red. Very, very cool. The man-boner is back. Dang it.
10:27: A curious segment from the first verse of the song: "She find pictures in my email. I sent this bitch a picture of my dick. I don't know what it is with females, but I'm not too good at that shit."
Um, you don't know what it is with females, Kanye? Well, we're no relationship therapist or anything, but this seems like a pretty easy problem to fix: If you're dating one woman, don't send a separate woman a picture of your dick.
That's kind of, like, a big thing to them. Just a thought.
10:29: Ah crikey. Phone is about to die. And since this is where we keep our notes during the show, the timestamps are going to be a little wonky. We'll just go with "After 10:29" for the duration of the review. Thx.
After 10:29: Oh, BTW, Mike Dean, perhaps the greatest producer in Houston history and heavy WTT contributor, is playing the keyboard for the show. He gets several shout-outs from Jay and Kanye during the show. We all win a little for that one. Because he's from Houston. So it counts for all of us. That's how it works. Or something.
After 10:29: They're playing Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World" and playing clips of things from the world that are not wonderful. The creepiest: A zoom in shot of a young white kid dressed in Ku Klux Klan garb, his mother behind him beaming with pride. Fuckin' nuts, man. How does that ever happen?
After 10:29: "No Church In The Wild."
After 10:29: Kanye was about to do "All of the Lights" but got frustrated because the light guy didn't turn ALL of them on. He makes them restart the song. The light guy still doesn't turn them on all. Kanye stops the music again, then says, "That one strip? You're just gonna turn on that one little strip of lights?" hahaha. Kanye's funny.
After 10:29: Ay, for real, this show is excellent. Both of these guys are just so, so good at being interesting. At one point, Kanye was about to do "Stronger" and knew that the cameras were in tight on his face, and he flipped back into Kobe Killer Mode almost immediately, snarling and showing his teeth and whatnot. People should pretend to be animals more often. That shit always plays. If you go to a party tonight and meet three guys, one that's a dentist named Tony, one that wears a backpack and one that acts like a bear at odd moments, which one are you most likely to talk about the next day? The bear guy, that's the one. You'll be like, "Yo, Steve, you should've come to the party last night. ...What? Nah, man. I don't remember meeting a dentist named Tony. ...He told you we talked for 45 minutes? I don't know, bro. What I do know is that there was this one guy there that would fuckin' growl like a bear anytime someone got close to the seven layer dip. Fuck, yes: A BEAR, BRO. ...I don't know his name, but we're hanging out again this weekend." Call that the People That Act Like Animals Are More Interesting Than Dentists Named Tony hypothesis.
After 10:29: harharhar. People are throwing things on the stage. One person threw a hat. Some lady just threw a shoe up there. Kanye picked it up, flashed it on the big screen, then started laughing. FUN-NEE.
After 10:29: Show's about to end. They hit lots of good stuff (Ye's "Runaway" and Jay's "On To The Next One" were particularly inspired).
After 10:29: The running joke for the Watch the Throne tour (which, incidentally, is actually called Game of Thrones) has been how many times they've played "N**gas In Paris" has been played in each city as the show's closer. They do it four-five-six-seven times, depending on how they feel. Tonight, they do it five times in a row, and it's neat every single time.
11:57: Back in the car. Show over. Gorgeous. Among the year's best. Easy.
Personal Bias: I have a great, big Kanye West tattoo on my back and a great, big Jay-Z tattoo on my chest.
The Crowd: Was loud.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Are we going back up? Then why'd you make me walk all the way down here?!" said the mean-looking woman to the defeated man as they discussed getting snacks after they'd made their way to their seats.
Random Notebook Dump: The Box played "N**gas In Paris" eight or nine times in a row after the show.
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