L.A. Live played host to a hip hop-meets-dance pop mash-up Monday night, with Britney Spears on one side of the street and Kid Cudi on the other.
Outside Staples, hyped-up teeny-boppers and buzzed cougars frantically trolled the sidewalk in a pre-Brintey Spears parade. But on the north side of the street, Cudi's fans rolled up slowly, pre-partied and chill. One girl heading towards Staples even shrieked and then whined with a pouty face when she caught the name on the Nokia marquee, “OH NO! Kid Cudi's over there tonight!?” Girl was right to be pouty. Kid Cudi threw it down for every drunk college girl, spiky heeled diva, white dude in a Von Dutch tee, and brother with square-framed Kanye glasses.
Yes, the Kanye glasses. And there was the Kanye buzz. But if the absent, partially-expected presence of Kanye West hung over the crowd early (West says Cudi is his favorite artist and he regularly shows up at his gigs), it was gone by the show's halfway point, when – restless and hampered by technical problems in his headset – Cudi took the show back from Nokia's sterilized sound system. With the crew in the wings trying to fix his ear piece problem, Cudi just ripped the gear off his back, rolled up his shirt sleeves and grabbed the mic, “Fuck this technology shit.” With that, Cudi lit it up and the show got beastly loud, with slamming bass and full, buzzy feedback (in its properly done way). “I can't hear y'all with this shit in my ears. I'm gonna do this shit like back when I played for five people in a room.”
In his perfectly tailored black suit and shades, looking like a Motown crooner, Cudi couldn't contain his smiles with the crowd pumping him up even higher with chants of “Cuuuu-die, Cuuuu-die.” It was a subtle but big change from his last visit at the much smaller Club Nokia (when he rolled up in jeans, bling and baseball hat). Cudi's at that precipice between fucked-up genius and genre-changing mogul like Jay-Z when he realized thirty is the new twenty. With easy confidence Cudi pounded the audience and stage Monday night, all the time looking icebox cool – like he's going to parties with nice girls, has got good credit and such.
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But its almost starting to feel like a schizophrenic trip that's half nostalgia and half posturing when he performs “Pursuit of Happiness” and “Mr. Rager.” Cudi, we don't just believe you're a lonely stoner having those 5 a.m. night terrors anymore, you look too happy.
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