SXSW 2009: My Night With Kanye West

By Matt Harper

I’m going to put it out there, and you can hate me if you want: I just watched Kanye West, and had the absolute best seat in the house. No joke. And by “Best”, I mean seriously B-E-S-T. Like, about two feet directly in front of Kanye for the almost 30 song set.

And before you criticize me for being braggadocios, consider this: I’ve spent 5 days so far at SXSW working 20 hour days, lugging 50 pounds worth of camera equipment, and subsisting off of a diet of Doritos and lukewarm beer. Just putting it out there…


So I guess there’s something to be said for Karma, because on my last day here in Austin, I arrived at the Levi’s Fader Fort to shoot the G.O.O.D. Music Showcase, and got ushered waaaaay up front to the press pit. I had heard rumor that Kanye would be showing up, but hadn’t heard anything concrete. Apparently I wasn’t the only one to hear the rumor, because the venue was absolutely packed, and a line snaked down the block.

But lo and behold, Kanye took to the stage wearing sunglasses and a denim vest, and spent the next hour and a half (give or take) energetically performing with a cavalcade of G.O.O.D. Music artists – including Consequence, GLC, and Big Sean. Kanye alternated dueting with G.O.O.D. Music artists, and performing an eclectic assortment of his own catalogue (including, “Amazing,” “Drive Slow,” “Spaceship” and “Crack Music”)

But the night really picked up once Yeezy’s protégé Kid Cudi took the stage, performing “Welcome to Heartbreak” with the man of the hour. After Cudi performed a few songs with Kanye, the REAL surprise of the night was revealed – an appearance by COMMON – who took the stage and immediately and frenetically dove into his single, “Universal Mind Control”. From this point onward the energy was absolutely palpable. Some highlights: Kanye and COMMON performing “Get ’em High” (during which Kanye climbed the scaffolding and COMMON crowd surfed), and a “Love Lockdown” finale where Kanye, Common, and all the G.O.O.D. Music artists took the stage together.


Well, this job taketh, and this job taketh away. After my night standing feet away from Kanye, COMMON and a host of others as they performed an amazing show, I now I find myself writing this, eating some stale Doritos, and mentally preparing myself for my 7am flight back to New York City… and back to reality.

MTV News will be all over the South by Southwest festival this week, with blogs, articles and video on all the gigs, the artists and the scene!