Kanye West appeared onstage at New York”s Brooklyn Bowl at roughly 2:30 Sunday morning, wearing a hubcap-sized gold eagle’s head pendant, a gargantuan two-finger pyramid ring and what appeared to be a hooded black terrycloth bathrobe. He looked like a Pharoah who had spent the day lounging poolside, and had just decided to drop in for this quick surprise show.
But if his appearance was goofy, his performance was anything but. Backed by New York DJ A-Trak, West — beaming from ear-to-ear for the entirety of his 20-minute set — tore through four of his recent G.O.O.D. Friday singles, beginning with a tense, grinding version of “Monster” and peaking with a euphoric take on “Power.” West was a whirwind of charisma throughout, dropping his shoulders, striding across the front of the stage and exchanging celebratory fist bumps with shocked spectators in the front row. He didn’t speak much between songs, but appeared to be having the time of his life, which lent a buoyancy to the slow-burning “Devil in a New Dress.” But what was most remarkable about the performance — besides the fact that it happened at all — was how quickly the new songs have become widely familiar. “Runaway” is a little over a month old, but most of those assembled already knew every word, an army of voices overpowering West’s during the song”s sly chorus and following his lead through its hairpin lyrical turns.
After West disappeared backstage, A-Trak brought out another surprise guest: GZA, who turned in a letter-perfect version of “Liquid Swords” and led the audience through a rousing “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.” West and GZA’s appearance came during the waning hours of the Offline Festival, curated by Pitchfork.