- Posted on Mar 20th 2011 3:45PM by Joshua Ostroff
Josh Ostroff for AOL
After a day marked by stellar sets from Big Boi at the MOG showcase at the Mohawk; Killer Mike, Lil B and a surprise mini-set from Diddy and Odd Future at the Fader Fort; Z Trip with special guest LL Cool J at the Red Bull Thr3style event; and Snoop Dogg and Warren G performing a Nate Dogg tribute at the Pepsi Max party, it was time for the festival's biggest (and hardest to get into) showcase -- Kanye's VEVO Power Station.
Taking place in the epic industrial setting, the line-ups began early in the day, though the doors didn't open until midnight. Thousands of people were queued up outside in a chaotic crush, with many no doubt left disappointed. But for the 3,000 or so who made it inside, they were treated to a truth-in-advertising showcase from Kanye's G.O.O.D Music label, with a host of talent including Big Sean, Kid Cudi, Mos Def, John Legend and the Clipse's Pusha T.
Though stars in their own right, this was Kanye's night, a late capper to a year that saw his 'My Beautful Dark Twisted Fantasy' top music critic and blogger year-end lists the world over. Now he had come to their annual gathering spot to hold court, and, unlike two years ago when he did a surprise set at Fader, this was all-out epic.
Charley Rogulewski for AOL
Opening with 'Gorgeous,' he subsequently raged through 'Can't Tell Me Nothing' and the Black Sabbath-sampling 'Hell of a Life,' before bringing out John Legend for a sleepy 'The Blame Game.' Legend played a few more songs so West could take a break but he returned full-bore with a rousing rendition of 'Power,' which got the crowd adding handclap percussion.
Then all it took was a single piano plink for the crowd to go insane over the impeding 'Runaway,' a song so popular and strange it's a sheer testament to Kanye's envelope-pushing. Not surprisingly, it was highlighted by Pusha T's verse, which he proceeded to chew up and spit out like a monster.
West was soon joined by a full marching band for 'All of the Lights' and eventually by his old boss, Jay-Z, which sent the flagging 4AM crowd into paroxysms of Roc-handsign throwing ecstasy when the pair ploughed through their posse cuts, 'Monster' and 'Swagger Like Us' before Jigga dropped 'Public Service Announcement' and, for old times sake, 'Big Pimpin'.'
Bon Ivor's Justin Vernon added some indie star power for 'Lost in the World,' and then Kanye took the spotlight back for himself with the perfectly appropriate set-closer 'Good Life.'
It may not have been your typical indie-centric SXSW show, but it was an epic event that will become part of the South-by-Southwest canon and another example of Kanye's power.