On hate and Kanye

Kanye, Trumped: Kid Cudi and Kanye West hugged, and Kanye appeared to have begun crying. This was toward the end of the first of two songs of the night he abandoned his floating stage and a sold-out crowd at Golden 1 Center. After Cudi’s exit, Kanye delivered a 15-minute rant and brought the show to an abrupt end.

Naturally, the usual deluge of articles thirsty to gather clicks was immediately present, and if Kanye and Cudi’s moment is mentioned at all, it’s relegated to rap-game, beef-squashing theatrics. Cudi and Kanye both have had battles with depression. But it remains uncertain why Kanye appeared so distraught while he claimed to be on his “Trump shit.”

After a premature conclusion, the palpable grief and disappointment moved through the arena like the wave at a baseball game. As I was getting ready to escape the oncoming shit show, a fan directly in front of me attempted to rip his “I Feel Like Pablo” shirt in half. After seeing that he couldn’t, he took it off and threw it at the ground as if there were some stain that needed immediate concealment. The chant “Fuck Kanye” consumed the atmosphere as it ricocheted off the arena architecture. Many of us have had similar nightmares, but we fortunately get to wake up from them. As I left, it was difficult to ignore that the crowd appeared to relish the ugliness of this spectacle.

This was the first show since San Jose, where Kanye, one of the most visible black artists on the entire planet, professed admiration for Donald Trump’s rhetorical approach, and inexcusably asked black Americans to stop “being distracted” by racism: a dangerously ignorant statement directed at black America and to those dedicated allies of black American causes and politics.

But to closely follow Kanye’s career as an artist is to come to understand the catalyst of his evolution into becoming this unhinged. The unsettling evolution began after the death of his mother, preceding the recording of 808s & Heartbreak. His bright, baroque backpack rap was mostly exchanged for cold synths and equally cold statements.

Hate Kanye? Kanye is an emotionally shattered man with an at-times confused and toxic hubris. After Sacramento, he canceled the rest of his tour. A refocus of our energies and a recalibration of our celebrity-culture addled minds is increasingly necessary. If you’re going to spend energy on hating a celebrity, might I suggest the president-elect of the United States of America, Donald Trump.

—Karlos Rene Ayala

Feel-good punk: In case you forgot, Starlite Lounge doesn’t just showcase metal bands.

Last Friday’s bill was a reminder of that fact. Monster Treasure, Pets and Vasas played for a crowd of about 20 people, and indie rock, garage and pop punk made the night’s sound palette. No moshing. No 14-minute songs. Not a single “Hail Satan.”

Instead, catchy, three-chord punk tunes, beginning with Stockton trio Monster Treasure. The band’s singer-guitarists led vocal daydreams through a wall of guitar crunch, the tumult chilled out by their calm voices. The drummer was also fun to watch, battering his snare at a speed that looked almost painful.

Sacramento punk veterans Pets continued the night’s tradition of feel-good punk rock, this time with thick bass fuzz and guitar grime over Derek Fieth’s and Allison Jones’ playful chants. Mood-wise, they deliver a kind of straightforward, friendly angst that hearkens back to the more whimsical side of punk—high in energy and overdrive, but also lighthearted and favoring simple fun.

The night closed with Vasas, and the Sacramento indie group sported a wide range of rock soundscapes. Each of the band’s three guitar players has their own unique singing voice that catered to different genres, including folk and rockabilly. One guy reminded me of Joey Ramone, another of Bob Dylan, and lastly, of Isaac Brock from Modest Mouse. Likewise, you had tunes that swayed like nighttime carousel love songs, followed by running-pace head-bobbers appropriate for things like skateboarding and moving at shows.

The three bands carried that contagion of genuine joy when they performed. It’s clear they were having fun, and it wasn’t hard to join in.

—Mozes Zarate