AUSTIN, Texas — South by Southwest 2011 had its fair share of amazing performances this year, but Kanye West’s show Saturday night at the Vevo Power Plant was certainly hard to top. Officially billed as Vevo Presents: G.O.O.D. Music featuring Kanye West, John Legend, Common, Kid Cudi, Mos Def and more, the event concluded with a 90-minute Kanye set that ran until just past 4 a.m.
Photos from the G.O.O.D. Music show with Kanye, Jay-Z and more.
The night’s festivities were opened by Mos Def. Dressed in black and wearing a shiny costume mask, he performed songs like “Oh No” and “Casa Bey” before ceding the stage to Pusha T. Pusha greeted fans with the Clipse’s “Grindin’ ” and closed with the popular mixtape cut “Fear of God.” He was followed by Big Sean and then Cyhi Da Prince, who performed with a violinist. While Mr. Hudson’s songs seemed largely foreign to the diverse audience, in a bit of foreshadowing, he closed with his hook from Jay-Z’s “Forever Young.” Then, a short dance sequence by Fonzworth Bentley lead to a Kid Cudi set. Cudi had fans fist-pumping to the Crookers remix of “Day ‘N’ Nite” then singing a cappella along with him to “Pursuit of Happiness.”
Then it was time for the main event. At roughly 2:30 a.m., after fans had braved hours on their feet (including the time spent waiting in line to get in since the early afternoon), Kanye West sauntered onto a stage draped in red light. The operatic flourishes of “Dark Fantasy,” from his latest LP, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, rose in volume as his silhouette appeared. Backed by DJ Cassidy, ‘Ye — in a black leather jacket, black gloves and black sunglasses — tore through the opening cut. After revisiting his older catalog with “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” he stepped back to the current day and brought John Legend out to perform the popular G.O.O.D. Friday track “Christian Dior Denim Flow.” Legend stayed onstage and they performed “Blame Game” together before John manned the keys solo for “Ordinary People.”
The night hit its stride when ‘Ye brought out the MPC for a VMA-like performance of “Runaway.” He danced around stage as the beat played, and harmonized during an extended outro. As the song ended, he put his head down, clutched the microphone and turned his back to the crowd. A brass band joined him for “All of the Lights” and the venue seemed to shake beneath the song’s heavy kick drums.
Kanye then exited the stage, only to return with Jay-Z. They performed “H.A.M.” together, then ran through a medley of songs they’re both featured on. “Swagga Like Us” kicked in, but Kanye lost track of the tune. “I forgot that one,” he admitted.
It was Jay-Z’s turn to take over the set, and of course, diamonds were in the sky for “Public Service Announcement.” “Austin, Texas, if you’re having a good time with G.O.O.D. Music tonight, make some noise!” Jay said.
Jay finished, appropriately, with “Big Pimpin,” the cut that features popular Texas-bred rappers UGK. Hov led the crowd in reciting the late Pimp C’s verse before leaving the stage.
The show switched back to Kanye’s newer material, and when “Lost in the World” began, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon took the stage. Dressed in black, staring straight down, he sang his haunting verse while Kanye returned to perform the rest of the song.
Everyone from G.O.O.D. Music joined Kanye onstage to sing the chorus of the final song, “Good Life,” as West drew the show to a close.