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Is Kanye West finally welcome back to Bonnaroo?

on February 18, 2014, 1:00pm
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Welcome to Festival Outlook, a new supplemental column to Consequence of Sound’s Festival OutlookIn this installment, Alex Young discusses rumors of Kanye West’s possible return to Bonnaroo with CoS contributor Carson O’Shoney.

Alex Young: We all know the story by now: Kanye West showed up eight hours late to his performance at Bonnaroo 2008, put on a below average performance, and has since been banned from the festival. Or — so we thought. Recently, rumors surfaced on the popular Bonnaroo message board Inforoo that Kanye West would return to the Farm in 2014 and the evidence is certainly starting to pile up: Not only does the report come from a pretty reliable source, whose correctly predicted several other headliners in the past, but recently, OutKast announced dates in Europe the weekend of Bonnaroo. Presumably, Bonnaroo wouldn’t book both OutKast and Kanye to play the same year.

From Bonnaroo’s perspective, booking Kanye certainly makes a whole lot of sense. It’d be one of the few festivals to feature someone other than OutKast at the top of the lineup. Not only that, but Kanye has yet to play a festival headlining performance since the release of his latest opus, Yeezus. What better place to make his mark than the festival where he’s been vilified for the last half decade? After all, who doesn’t love a story of redemption?

Obviously, I’m a bit biased when it comes to Kanye and it’s also worth noting that I was not in attendance during the 2008 clusterfuck. But my colleague Carson O’Shoney was, so I invited him to come and talk with me about Kanye’s possible return to the Farm.

First things first, Carson, what were your impressions of the 2008 performance?

Carson O’Shoney: My first impression was that the whole experience was just bizarre and surreal. Taking away all the delays and controversy surrounding the show, it was just a strange sight seeing one of the world’s biggest pop stars take the stage to a half-empty field at 4:30 a.m. in the middle of nowhere, Tennessee. To then play his “Glow in the Dark” tour well beyond the sunrise and end in plain daylight was just absurd. The show itself, despite what some might say, was entertaining if nothing else. I didn’t mind waiting as much as other people seemed to, so once he came on, I was able to just enjoy it like I would any other show. It’s not the best Kanye show I’ve seen by any stretch, but it’s definitely not the “worst Bonnaroo set ever” either.

The setlist was solid even though it was cut short, Kanye seemed unfazed by the pre-show boos and debris thrown on stage, and what (relatively) little crowd that was left seemed to enjoy themselves once he got into the thick of the show. The Glow in the Dark setup didn’t work as well on the farm as it had in arenas that summer even aside from the sunrise, and while I did enjoy some of the stunning visuals and his silly interactions with Jane the Spaceship — I always thought he should have just ditched the whole elaborate setup for a stripped down “normal” set like he ended up doing at Lollapalooza later in the summer. If he had, we could have avoided this whole situation — but he didn’t, so here we are.

kanye west roo

AY: We never really got the full explanation of what happened. It was more of a he-said, they-said situation. Kanye blamed the festival for being disorganized and Pearl Jam for performing an hour beyond their scheduled time. The festival contended they made every accommodation requested by West’s camp. There were some reports that he arrived late to the festival site after attending a birthday party in Atlanta and refused to go on until all other music stopped playing. Kanye countered by publishing a scathing open letter in which he referred to festival organizers as “squid brains”.

FOR OVER A MONTH WE WENT BACK AND FORTH ON WETHER OR NOT WE COULD EVEN FIT MY STAGE AT THE FESTIVAL. ONE DAY THEY WOULD SAY YES… WE’D SEND THEM OUR SPECS THEN THEY THEY’D SAY OK… THEN THEY WOULD SEND SPECS BACK THAT DIDN’T FIT THE STAGE. WE WERE OBVIOUSLY DEALING WITH FUCKING IDIOTS WHO DIDN’T REALLY HAVE THE CAPACITY TO REALLY PUT ON THIS SHOW PROPERLY. THEY TRIED 2 GIVE ME A TIME SLOT WERE IT WAS STILL LIGHT OUTSIDE … I HAVE A FUCKING LIGHT SHOW DUMB ASS, IT’S NOT CALLED GLOW IN THE DARK FOR NO REASON SQUID BRAINS! MY PEOPLE WORKED OUT A COMPROMISED STAGE PLOT AND A 3AM TIME SLOT AND I AGREED. FAST FOWARD TO THE DAY OF THE SHOW. MY PRODUCTION MANAGER TRIED TO LOAD IN FOR 24 HOURS BEFORE I WENT ON STAGE BUT THE FESTIVAL WOULDN’T ALLOW US TO DO ANYTHING UNTILL PEARL JAM LEFT THE STAGE. PEARL JAM ENDED ONE HOUR
LATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AT THAT POINT WE’RE RACING AGAINST THE SUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not surprisingly, most Bonnaroovians ended up siding with the festival, turning Kanye West into public enemy No. 1. “Fuck Kanye” and “Kanye Sux” graffiti has been a frequent site at Bonnaroo ever since and the idea of the rapper returning to the festival was as unfathomable as Charles Manson leading a Superjam. Why then, would the festival even consider bringing back Kanye? Time heals all wounds, and in the years since the infamous performance, Kanye has released his two greatest albums. What better way to differentiate yourself from all other festivals with OutKast at the top of the bill then by booking the greatest living emcee? And you know Kanye is going to bring it: he usually produces his best work when his back is against the wall.

What I do wonder is how the general Bonnaroo population will accept him.

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Bro Biden
February 18, 2014 at 1:31 pm

A Charles Mansion Superjam would be pretty epic. Throw in David Koresh and I’d be down.

Alex Young
February 18, 2014 at 2:07 pm

HAHA, that’s what I think too.

james greer
February 18, 2014 at 2:25 pm

If the fest has Kayne and no Outcast it will truly be a complete failure and I will not return in 2014!
I could care less what happened in 2008, Kanye is an egotistical P.O.S! On top of that I hear Drake and Childish Gambino also are on the bill. what an F’ing horrible move by the organizers. I’ve seen C.Gambino twice….absolutely the most annoying sounding rapper ever!

Dean Browell
February 18, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Are we sure they aren’t trolling us all with this rumor?

Anonymous
February 18, 2014 at 2:41 pm

NO KANYE. EVER AT BONNAROO. PLEASE. THAT SHOW SUCKED AND SO DOES HE.

Pondo
February 18, 2014 at 3:10 pm

I was there. It was not good. Phil Lesh (who I did not see) was FORCED to end his set early so Kanye would not be playing against anyone. PHIL LESH!!!!! Ghostland Observatory (who I was seeing) cut their set short too. Don’t know where the above guy watch was located at, but it was closer to 5 a.m. beofre Kanye went on. Felt like he looked at the crowd and said “F*ck it” and mailed the performance in.

His “amazing: light show was not nearly as good as Tool’s from the year before and truly lacked. This was the first time a late night show was on the What Stage so this could have been epic. Instead, it was drawnout and average at best.

Finally, he blamed EVERYONE else but himself or his team. Why not SHARE IN THE BLAME???? Not saying Bonnaroo did not make mess up as well but Kan’tye (Yes I know how I spelled it) refuses to take any responsibility.

KOB
February 18, 2014 at 6:33 pm

I was there in 2008 as well. I enjoyed the set. What I didn’t enjoy was missing the other sets happening when Kanye was supposed to be on. If I remember correctly, Sigur Ros, Phil Lesh, and at least one other band. The announcer kept pushing the time back in 15 minute increments instead of just saying: Kanye will go on at 4 AM. I’ve been to Bonnaroo 4 times and 2008 was probably my favorite, so Kanye didn’t ruin my time or anything. If Outkast can’t happen (never seen them) I am fine with a Kanye Redemption. BUT he better not be the top headliner. Still holding out hope for Daft Punk.

Chris W
February 18, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Simply put, no. Outkast all f’in day though.

Ice Cream Man
February 18, 2014 at 11:24 pm

i enjoyed Kanye’s Bonnaroo set, not nearly as much as Sigur Ros a few hours earlier though. That was my favorite night I had at Roo, close second would be MMJ late night sets til 4 in the morn

Interlude Jones (@interludej)
February 19, 2014 at 11:26 am

The Kanye set in 2008 was amazing. (mostly because you weren’t there and I was)

In the context of it… never before and never again will he present that type of production to so few people. Never again will he sing “Good Morning” as the sun rises on a Tennessee sky. These moments, however they are misinterpreted, are the makings of “once in a lifetime” shit.

I’ve been to the past 7 Roos and I already bought my tickets for number 8 at the first pre-sale. “Fuck Kanye” is in direct opposition to “Radiate positivity” and that has always been my only issue with the Kanye fiasco. Anyone who perpetuates the hate needs to vacate.

Go wait in the beer line, it’s totally worth it.

concerned louisvillian
February 19, 2014 at 3:51 pm

So an idiot with a GONE-ja mind would like it.. thanks for the clarification…

G-Man
February 19, 2014 at 4:37 pm

I always thought that seeing kanye literally play til after sunrise was “once in a lifetime”…I never knew he sang “good morning”…that is freakin epic and totally great story, I wasn’t at that roo, I chose rothbury instead that year.

While I can agree with your point, but it could also be said you’re “hating” on the people who don’t want kanye back. There’s always two opposing sides whether we like it or not and that produces hate. <– period

That said, I personally don't want kanye back at the festival because of who he is, as a person. This man runs off at the mouth about everyone and everything, markets himself as a victim constantly and rarely takes blame for how he's portrayed in the media. That's all I know about the dude is what I hear in the media. I think we can all agree Kanye is a public relations nightmare. He breeds negativity all by himself, and I think most people feel the same regardless of how good his music/performance is.

I think Outkast definitely fits the vibe bonnaroo has always created with its acts in the past. Even though the "love" bonnaroo promotes would imply all can be forgiven…I still don't want kanye here, sometimes people burn bridges, and there is no repairing them, because repairing them concedes that you were wrong, and I don't think bonnaroo is or was ever in the wrong in this situation. Unless of course he is playing for free and promises an "epic set/performance", then I guess bridges can be mended.

Lucian Pruitt
February 19, 2014 at 5:26 pm

I have been to the last 9 bonnaroo’s and I am all for radiating positivity but seriously FUCK KANYE. I understand this websites favorite artist is clearly Kanye but let’s face it the dude is a shitty person and treated every one like shit while he was at the farm. Question for the Kanye fans, if you invite a person to your party and the that person tries to ruin everyone else’s time would you really want that person to return for future events?

KOB
February 19, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Kanye and Bonaroo share blame for the late start time. Kanye is solely to blame for his post-Bonnaroo meltdown. http://www.stereogum.com/10659/kanye_dont_blame_me_blame_bonnaroo/bonnaroo/

martinwalsh394399558
February 19, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Yeah…about that…not looking too good at this point.