Eyes and Ears on Kanye’s Saint Pablo Tour

By Ogden Payne

Award-winning hip-hop artist Kanye West is set to appear in Austin, Texas on Sept. 21 for his Saint Pablo Tour. West’s arrival marks his first headlining appearance at the Frank Erwin Center since his Glow in the Dark Tour in 2008.

West has delivered prolific performances throughout his career, including a memorable London concert in 2005 in which ‘Ye was joined onstage by a seventeen-piece orchestra. The Saint Pablo Tour is powerful in a different way, having been praised for its innovative yet simple stage design, which allows for West’s undeniable, colorful energy to shine while performing. Rolling Stone documented the first date of the tour, writing “You simply couldn’t take your eyes off of him.”

Eyes and ears have been on the Chicago native for the better half of 2016, beginning with the unique rollout for his seventh solo studio album, The Life of Pablo. Rather than promote the album through traditional means such as radio or print ads, West premiered his album to thousands of fans in Madison Square Garden as a part of his Yeezy Season 3 fashion show in February. He has since opened up a number of pop-up shops across the globe that sell exclusive Pablo-themed merchandise. One shop sold more than $1 million in two days, according to West.

To further establish his prominence as a diversified mogul, West announced a long-term partnership with Adidas to actualize his Yeezy apparel line in June of 2016. Previous models of Yeezy Boost sneakers have sold out within minutes of their release, proving that West’s influence extends well beyond music.

Still, his songs are the main reason Central Texans will flock to the Erwin Center. In a 2009 collaboration with Rick Ross titled “Maybach Music II,” West raps “New crib, lofting, where’s it at? Austin. Where’s that? Texas.” It is unconfirmed if ‘Ye has ever officially called Austin home, but he will join a list of elite acts, such as R&B songstress Rihanna and hip-hop heavyweight Drake, who made a stop at the 16,000 seat arena while on tour in 2016.

Performing in front of thousands of clamoring fans seemed more of a lofty goal than a potential reality when West was getting his foot in the door. He took pride in his talent as an emcee in addition to his beat-making ability, despite skepticism from close friends and collaborators. He ascended into superstardom after producing a handful of tracks for Jay Z, who served as a mentor early in West’s career. Twenty-one Grammy Awards later, he is tied with Jay Z for the most Grammy wins by a rap artist.

It has taken West more than 15 years of creativity, reinvention and determination for him to reach his current pinnacle. He has pushed beyond the traditional muses of hip-hop by collaborating with acts such as Coldplay and John Mayer and has influenced the newest generation of up-and-comers.

Depending on who Kanye’s tour guide is, he may visit the LBJ Presidential Library, where he projected a music video from his then-upcoming album Yeezus in 2013. He also may scope out one of Austin’s historical venues for his next pop-up shop. Whatever he decides to do, Austinites will be sure to welcome him with southern hospitality while patiently waiting for him to take the classic Frank Erwin Centerstage.

About our Guest Contributor

Ogden Payne lives in Austin, Texas and writes about music. He has been featured as a contributor for Forbes and Grammy Magazine.

Visit the Frank Erwin Center website to see who's coming, and subscribe to Be the First to Know to get a jump on upcoming pre-sales and ticket giveaways.

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