Whenever Kanye returns home to Chicago, it’s special. The Donda listening party at Soldier Field was no exception.
We ran from our drop off location to the stadium because we didn’t want to miss the beginning. Our dash proved unnecessary, because Kanye kept the crowd waiting – as we should’ve anticipated. Nobody seemed bothered, as the excitement built.
My friend Sam got us the hook up with tickets on the suite level. I spotted Ian Happ entering his box and signified my Cubs fandom. Later, I met Bobby Portis. Bobby actually made an extra effort to open a door and shake my hand after I gave him props as a newly crowned NBA Champion. He was extremely cordial and friendly.
Ye rebuilt his South Side childhood home in the center of Soldier Field. Pretty fucking cool, if you ask me.
Kanye emerged from the home as the unreleased album began to play, beginning with a Donda chant.
Performers in tactical gear walked or ran in concentric circles for a majority of the show, occasionally breaking into pretend fights. They all logged a couple miles by the end of the night. SUVs joined the circle route around the house.
The show itself was undeniably unique. You can catch a concert when it’s part of a tour and you imagine the theatrics and setlist you saw in Philly are probably pretty similar to what the crowd witnessed a few nights before in Charlotte. This was different. First off, it was not a concert. Kanye didn’t crack the mic once, not even to say hello. Wearing a full face mask, Ye hung out on his recreated front stoop with DaBaby and Marilyn Manson, among others, and bopped his head to the music.
Bizarre? Yes. Fun as hell? Obviously. Part of the enjoyment of Kanye – and of hip-hop in general – is the discussion bred. Who is that on the porch with him? What’s the underlying message he’s trying to convey? Attending the show with 2 other fans + 1 superfan kept me even more engaged in the proceedings.
Kanye ended the evening with an illusion of his house burning down – and then he set himself on fire for real. He wore a fireproof suit and walked around in flames for a few minutes before a fireman with an extinguisher put him out.
Finally, Kim Kardashian emerged in a wedding dress and approached Kanye. He removed his mask for the first time and they embraced. Discussion followed in the stands: are they back together?
Hmm? How was the music? This was a listening party, after all. Loved it in the moment and then my reaction was confirmed when Donda started streaming on Spotify a few days later. It takes me several listens to know if I truly like any album.
I’m not the only who dug it, as Donda was the #1 streaming album in 170 countries. That’s a new record set by Kanye.
Attending Cubs games since, I noticed Jason Heyward changed his walk up song to Jay-Z’s verse from “Jail” on Donda. J-Hey is a Jay-Z fanatic. I liked watching Ian Happ hit homers, while wondering if he enjoyed the Soldier Field Donda Experience as much as I did.