Back in 2011 and 2012, super friends Jay Z and Kanye West took their epic Watch the Throne tour everywhere from Paris to Vancouver. Even New Jersey got a two-night stand. One place they skipped, though? Austin, Texas.
That changed last night, when Jay and ‘Ye took over the Austin Music Hall for Samsung’s big SXSW party. Needless to say, people were excited; even Tyler, the Creator, who had a showcase of his own to play later that night, could be seen wilding out in the middle of the young crowd and, inevitably, inspiring a flood of Samsung-sponsored selfies from the fans around him. (Sadly, Tyler’s scheduled 1 a.m. showcase at Mohawk would end up being marred by tragedy.)
So did the Throne live up to the hype? Without a doubt. Sure, the concept and set-list was more or less a facsimile of the official tour – the rappers dueled from atop opposing glowing cubes amid a spastic laser show, before eventually taking the actual stage together and tag-teaming in and out for solo mini-sets – but that didn’t stop everyone from losing themselves during the two-hour blowout. And both Jay and Kanye have put out a bunch of new music since they last convened onstage: Hova had his (also Samsung-aided) Magna Carta Holy Grail, while West had his Yeezus masterpiece, plus the Cruel Summer comp he released under the G.O.O.D. Music banner.
But since the notes on my phone are roughly 85% exclamation points, it might be best to break it down by the numbers:
Yeezus songs: 2. ”Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves” were on the menu. “Bound 2” was left out, much to the chagrin of some especially vocal fans.
MCHG: 3. “F—WithMeYouKnowIGotIt,” Tom Ford,” and “Beach Is Better.”
Cruel Summer: 3. West performed “Mercy” (without Pusha T, who is also at SXSW), “Clique” (with Jay, duh, but without Big Sean, who was at the fest as well), and the “Don’t Like” remix.
Watch the Throne: 6. “HAM,” “Who Gon Stop Me”, “Otis,” “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Gotta Have It,” and “N—-s in Paris.”
“Drunk in Love”s: 1. That’s right! Jay trotted out the instant classic from his wife’s most recent record. At this point, people started shrieking, presumably because they thought Beyoncé herself might come out. Alas, she did not, though West came in and gave us his own excellent “Drunk in Love” remix.
Solo Jay: 13. The MCHG cuts, “PSA,” “U Don’t Know,” “Run This Town,” “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” “Empire State of Mind,” “On to the Next One,” “Dirt Off Your Shoulder,” “Give It to Me,” “Big Pimpin,” and “99 Problems.”
Solo ‘Ye: 13. ”Don’t Like,” “Sanctified,” the Yeezus tracks, “Jesus Walks,” “Diamonds,” “Mercy,” “Good Life,” “Runaway,” “Heartless,” “Stronger,” “All of the Lights,” and “Gold Digger.”
Kilts: 1. We’ll let you guess who was wearing it.
Crowdsurfers: 1. Tyler!! Thanks to his trademark green cap, the energetic Odd Future leader was hard to miss as he crowdsurfed during Throne cut “Gotta Have It.”
“N—-s in Paris” count: 3. The Watch the Throne’s tour signature feature was the encore, when Jay and Kanye would perform the monster hit in a loop. They set a record in (where else?) Paris when they performed the track 12 times in a row. Fully aware of all that, the SXSW crowd kept egging the rappers on in the hopes that they’d get to witness rap history. But this is Austin, not Paris – bars shut down at 2 a.m. here, so the duo bowed out after pulling a hat trick.