If [artist id="1230523"]Kanye West[/artist] really does chuck it all to become a fashion intern in London, rapping only outside of business hours, his schedule might start looking like it did over the past few days. In addition to popping up at [artist id="1184"]Common[/artist]'s secret New York show on Thursday and playing a stripped-down two-song set on "Saturday Night Live," the rapper jetted across the country on Sunday to make a surprise appearance at KROQ's Almost Acoustic Christmas show at Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, surprising and delighting the crowd with an unannounced mini set, accompanied by a full band and a quartet of Taiko drummers.
On Saturday night the rapper-turned-crooner took the "SNL" stage alone (with a band in the shadows above him atop a giant video screen) to sing the first two singles off his 808s & Heartbreak album, mostly without the assist of the album's Auto-Tune-enhanced effects. During "Love Lockdown," West mostly stood still at the microphone as images of stormy weather rolled by on the two giant screens behind him. But he danced and skipped excitedly across the stage for "Heartless," which was illustrated on the screens by some of the Rotoscoped pop-art style images from the song's video, including a cameo from boy genius Elroy Jetson.
It was a different look in Los Angeles on Sunday night, when West slipped into the lineup between sets by Franz Ferdinand and Paramore for the second night of the annual radio station event. Those expecting to see Paramore were completely shocked when the turntable stage spun around to reveal a sole figure with his arm raised in the air. It was tough to actually tell who it was at first, because he was masked by white strobe lights, but once the strains of "Stronger" began pumping out, the crowd exploded into a sea cameras and cell phones waving in the air.
West and his band rounded out the set with versions of "Homecoming," "Heartless" and "Love Lockdown."
Before taking the "SNL" stage, he dropped in on Thursday night at a secret show by his Chicago homie Common, who was performing for a select crowd of 200 at the Angel Orensanz Foundation in New York's Lower East Side. The concert was part of a series of secret Common shows celebrating the launch of NBC's Locals Only community-focused Web sites. Backed by a band and a DJ, Common performed songs off of his electro-funk new album, Universal Mind Control, including "Punch Drunk Love," "Gladiator" and the title-track.
Since it's the season of giving, the Windy City MC was in a charitable mood, handing out the tickets for the free show, making his album available at ThinkCommon.com for only 99 cents and giving the crowd a pre-Christmas musical surprise they won't soon forget: letting his pal Kanye take over the stage for two songs.