It seems not everyone at Bonnaroo was as excited for Kanye West to headline the festival’s Friday night lineup as organizers were – graffitied variations of “F–k Kanye” began popping up in various places (walls, barriers, port-a-potties) across the farm almost as soon as concertgoers began arriving late Wednesday.
Nonetheless, Kanye took the stage for his 10 p.m. slot in front of an electric crowd that may top 90,000 by festival’s end. With a set design significantly toned down from his “Yeezus” tour, one might have been inclined to think this signaled a departure from his recent bombast. But that hope was dashed halfway through the set when, during the outro of “Heartless,” Kanye started yelling, “Where the press at? F–k the press!”
Given that the press made up an insignificant percentage of the audience, this comment passed by inoffensively – but it was just the beginning of the sermon. Kanye pressed on, touting his work ethic and commitment to his craft and saying he was feeling “humbled in a way that gave him strength” because at 37, “what you see [of him] now is only the beginning” which eventually escalated to “I am the No. 1 muthaf–kin’ rock star on the planet!”
His outburst was met with violent boos and what looked like a mass exodus. Festival-goers headed away from the stage and began filling up U.K. dance duo Disclosure’s tent early, punctuating their wait with eruptions of surprisingly well-organized chants of “F–k Kanye!”
While Bonnaroo attendees are usually more than happy to fulfill the festival’s “Radiate Positivity” motto, a spray-painted fence reading “Dear Kanye, Kim gave a better performance” along the walk back to my campsite suggests that there was more than one exception to the rule.