Live Review: Kid Cudi — Nokia Theatre, Los Angeles
Thu, 23 Jun 2011 07:20:39
Kid Cudi proved to be hip hop's answer to Pink Floyd at The Nokia Theatre last night in Los Angeles.
During a tight, technical, and transcendent set, Cudi transported rap to outer space and beyond. Now, the genre may never be the same. In this day and age of the mainstream's here-today-gone-tomorrow club jams and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, the indier-than-thou underground, Cudi happens to be the evolutionary force the game so desperately needs. Flanked by a full band with live drums and guitar, "Mr. Rager" built his very own psychedelic playground for fans to kick it in for almost two hours.
Hitting the stage with uncontainable energy, Cudi's flow roared rapturously right out of the gate. Tracks from his incredible Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager felt seamlessly suited to the live setting. "REVOFEV" and "Scott Mescudi Vs. the World" set the tone for the evening, conjuring a sensory avalanche of bright lights, spacey visuals, airtight instrumentation, and the man on the marquee's flawless flow.
"We live this shit", Cudi declared with conviction on "Mojo So Dope" as heavy distortion fueled his fire. He crisscrossed the stage, emanating a raw power that surged palpably through the packed Nokia Theatre. A tribal drum stomp pushed "We Aite" further into psychedelic territory as the band jammed out. The hazy green lights set the mood for "Marijuana", as a wah-ed out guitar solo sailed off into a Hesher oblivion alongside Cudi's booming vocals.
During an entrancing "Mr. Solo Dolo", intergalactic Dark Side of the Moon-style isolation met classic rap bravado for another out-of-this-world sensory ride. "Up Up & Away (The Wake and Bake Song)" showcased every facet of Cudi's brilliance. He sang out the chorus with all his heart, while sliding through the verses like Michael Jordan going straight to the hole. With its airy bounce and bright guitars, the song could've been Sublime playing in outer space, but even better.
Donning a Mötley Crüe t-shirt and wielding a blood red microphone, Cudi remained the vision of a boundless 21st century artist. He found a middle ground between arena-filling bombast and slick rap during "Erase Me", leaning over the edge of the stage to shout out the refrain as fans frantically reached out to him. An eerie old school soul beat served as the foundation for "Maniac" featuring Cage, which saw Cudi rip some of his most furious flows of the night as brutal and bloody images flashed across the screen behind him.
Cudi managed to pull off every part of "All of the Lights", taking on each of the song's original voices—Kanye West and Rihanna—as if they were his own. The song made fists raise to the sky across the theatre. Another cover, Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe", gave Cudi room to sing soulfully as guitarist Sean Martin locked in with him.
"Mr. Rager" stood out as the night's highlight. Cudi looked out at the crowd and spoke, "This is dedicated to all of the fucked up kids like me". He opened up on the verse, while poetically crooning out the chorus. It was an alternative hip hop catharsis unlike anything else out there and every syllable hit hard. "Cudi Zone" snapped into an electronica-infused break with "Memories" and a snipped of "Day 'n' Nite" weaved in. Cudi gave a heartfelt thank you to the fans before exclaiming, "Life is just one fucking trip. Embrace the ride".
Everyone strapped in tight for "Pursuit of Happiness". After an unforgettable performance, it felt like there was one clear truth in the whole galaxy.
Kid Cudi is both now and the future.
Were you there?
See our review of Man on the Moon II here!
Check out our interview with Kid Cudi here!