As night closed in around Carson’s StubHub Center last Saturday evening, the crowd’s anticipation became more and more tangible.
Something about the dark gave the audience the freedom to let loose in a way that the blue skies and sunshine couldn’t provide. By the time Calvin Harris’ performance peaked, the sun was already sagging into the horizon, and most of the crowd was swaying to a beat that pulsed through the entire stadium.
That, however, doesn’t mean the crowd wasn’t enjoying itself before the sun withdrew. With a lineup that included names like Jason Derulo, Sia, and Nick Jonas, this year’s Wango Tango was a homage to the integration of both the old and relatively new in pop culture.
Wango Tango, a day-long concert presented by radio station KIIS FM, is an event that usually features the currently reigning artists of the music industry, as evident with its 2015 headliner Kanye West, while also still shifting some focus on potential future kings and queens of the tomorrow’s musical generation, such as American rock and pop band Echosmith and solo artist Natalie LaRose.
Despite performances from popular artists like Meghan Trainor, Jason Derulo, and Ne-Yo, Kanye West dominated the stage… even when he wasn’t technically on the stage.
The night was a ticking time bomb to West’s performance. Chants of “Kanye, Kanye, Kanye” culminated Justin Bieber’s act, who, after almost a two-year long hiatus, was finally making his comeback. What better way to re-enter the spotlight than in the presence of over 21,000 people at Wango Tango?
Breathless, rusty, and evidently nervous, Bieber and his performance hit a low in the grand scheme of all of the concert’s other performances. By the time he even seemed warmed up, he was already disappearing on a platform that lowered him beneath the stage. Despite that, his merits still outweighed his faults, if the crowd’s screams of encouragement were any indication.
Even with Bieber’s comeback, however, the crowd’s excitement for Kanye was unparalleled to any other act.
The beginning of West’s performance included a darkened stage and a lot of screaming fans. By the time the first note of his song was played, the stage was bathed in a golden glow and shrouded in clouds of white smoke, where Kanye himself – in all his self-proclaimed godlike glory – emerged.
With the combination of the endless streams of smoke and his faceless silhouette gracing the giant screens that framed both sides of the stage, West’s performance maintained an element of anonymity, with just enough mystery to keep us all baited up until the very end. His performance didn’t go completely unknown, however; every beginning of a song was met with cheers louder than the last, especially when the familiar beats of fan favorites like Bound 2 and Mercy began to play. West’s strong set ended the night on an even stronger note – to absolutely no one’s surprise.
Even so, the real gem of the night wasn’t Kanye West – or any performer, for that matter. The true treasure was the concert’s ability to bring together different waves of people, and its ability to bind them – whether they were in the pits or in the nosebleed seats – through the forces of music. It was inevitable to not be lost to the synchronized singing, the swelling of excitement, an atmosphere that ricocheted throughout StubHub Center all night long. Moments like those shared last Saturday are the reasons why post-concert depression exists, why musicians are an indomitable force, and why music is something to constantly celebrate.