It's not youse, it's me
My first date was a Kanye West concert.
It took until I was 18 years old and two months into college, but I was asked out shortly after Temple’s Homecoming Weekend in October 2005. (Which I spent at a party at Drexel, instead.)
I once felt stigmatized by not having a boyfriend or dating in high school. But there is an inner peace in missing out on getting dropped off at a movie theater in a Ford station wagon by my mom, followed by splitting an appetizer at Ruby Tuesday’s. I was now surrounded by men — most still on their parents’ payrolls — with rising artist concert ticket spending money!
The Drexel business student who asked me out was from New York, the only child of a lawyer and a legal clerk. After we met at a party, we texted often, but casually; both still new to “the college experience” and looking forward to meeting a ton of people.
He mentioned Kanye West’s “Touch the Sky” tour coming to Temple’s Liacouras Center that November. Of course I knew about Kanye, but I was pretty indifferent toward him.
I remembered Kanye rapping with his jaw wired shut on his first release, and nodding my head along to “Jesus Walks” in my friend’s mom’s car while we picked up her prom dress from a boutique in New Hope. Other than that, I was a member of the very official “Why Does Kanye West Exist?” Myspace group. Kayne had a penchant for causing controversy even then, making headlines weeks earlier for comments he made during a Hurricane Katrina telethon about then-president George Bush.
But, being indifferent, I also didn’t mind attending. The concert was on November 6, a Sunday night. Drexel Kid (as he was referred to to my friends) asked me to go with him, and his roommate and his girlfriend. I said, yes.
The show was great: energetic, with a glimpse into the image-absorbed Kanye to which we’re now accustomed. As I cringe-write, I recall Drexel Kid holding my hands to “throw diamonds” in the sky, and — mouth agape — watching Kanye tell a couple seated in the first row he couldn’t have anyone sit down at his show; they would have to leave immediately and have their ticket money refunded.
In combing news articles online, I was reminded of one fun tidbit I’d long forgotten. Dan DeLuca, Music Critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote, “[Kanye] was the preppy polo-shirted alt-rapper who … used a bed as a prop — not for a choreographed bump ‘n’ grind routine, but for a skit about oversleeping for his job at the Gap.”
Nearly nine years after the show at Temple, I had the opportunity to see Kanye perform on the Ben Franklin Parkway as part of Made in America. I caught some of the concert last year, but made no formal plans to attend in 2014.
Fate intervened. An alert tweet and some digging around for a phone number resulted in me snagging two complimentary tickets to the music festival. On Saturday night, I literally got the “OK” on the tickets 20 minutes before the train left for the city and then 10 until Kanye’s performance on the Rocky Stage.
I don’t know what pulled me to go. Nostalgia? Hype? It’s still hard for me to identify as a fan.
Some of Kanye’s lyrics, interviews and antics … I mean, even President Obama chided him for being a jackass. But the man puts on an incredible show. This past weekend was no exception. And when Kanye rolls around into town again, I will most likely attend. Hopefully with fewer years between this show and the next.
As for Drexel Kid, the last time I saw him was seven years ago at Restaurant Week. I’ll be partaking next week in the city. If by some stroke of luck I see him, I’ll be sure to throw a diamond his way; for old time’s sake.
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