Kanye West has made a point of raising the bar with each of his solo tours. For his Glow in the Dark tour, he manned an onstage spaceship and flirted with CGI aliens in what amounted to a feature-length homage to his favorite sci-fi movies. For his Yeezus tour, he achieved new heights in grandiosity by putting a mountain in the middle of the arena—and then parting it to bring out special guest “White Jesus.”
But why raise the bar when you can raise the whole stage?
That’s what West did on the first night of his Saint Pablo tour on Thursday, debuting a new stage setup that featured no stage on the floor but a giant one in the sky.
Okay okay okay okay okay OKAY pic.twitter.com/zVGZZMQlcg— Hot Freestyle (@HotFreestyle) August 26, 2016
The floating stage came as a surprise to fans, who at first thought maybe there was no stage at all.
And then, well:
With no stage on the floor, West permitted fans to move about freely, giving the floor a feel more akin to a club show then an arena tour:
Though apparently security wasn’t happy about it, with West responding that “the whole concept was supposed to be that they’re supposed to go wherever they want whenever they want.”
intensity of the speakers on the floor at the Kanye show is >>> anything I've experienced since Godspeed! You Black Emperor at the old Knit— Jon Caramanica (@joncaramanica) August 26, 2016
Not that he wasn’t concerned with safety. For much of the concert, he was tied to the stage by an elastic tether so that that the stage could tilt in all directions toward the crowd without him falling off.
And because it was a Kanye show, he made sure the music sounded good, too, even bringing along Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Caroline Shaw to help with backup vocals:
West isn’t the first musician to move around the arena on a floating platform, of course. Small floating platforms—which allow artists to get more up close and personal with even the furthest reaches of the arena—have become a regular part of arena and stadium tours, from Taylor Swift to Drake. On Motley Crüe’s recent farewell tour, Tommy Lee even took his drum kit throughout the arena on a “drummercoaster” called (I’m not making this up) “the Crüecifly”—before he got stuck upside-down during their final show.
But as far as I can remember, no one has ever raised their entire stage into the sky, without so much as touching the ground the entire show. After the spaceship and the mountain, it was unclear how West was going to follow himself, but judging from early reactions he did it again.
As he told the audience at one point, “I know they call me crazy sometimes; I just call them lazy all the time.”
Read more in Slate about Kanye West: