Somehow, I missed out on the collective adoration of Kid Cudi that took over our generation during our high school years. Maybe I didn’t try smoking pot early enough, or my love of death metal blocked out any music that didn’t have to do with Satan. Either way, I never really had the intimate connection with Kid Cudi’s music his fans seem to enjoy.
It’s interesting, then, that I’ve seen Cudi perform twice: in 2011 a bit closer to his heyday, and again last Saturday night. Both times I was excited to see what it was about him that propelled him into the hearts and MySpace statuses of an entire generation of stoners. Both times I left wondering why the dude on stage told us to get home safely before playing a song in which he calls driving drunk, “doing his thing.”
This year’s Cud Life tour came with a special treat. I was drawn to the show by Tyler, the Creator, the leader of the LA rap collective Odd Future. However, DTE Energy Music Theatre is in the suburbs, and so the show had to be over at 11 pm. Tyler was off the stage by 8:30 pm, exactly when I walked onto the lawn. My rage kept me warm throughout the night.
Despite experiencing alternating bouts of malaise and blind fury from missing one of my heroes perform, I was determined to have a good time, even if it didn’t include beating up sixteen-year-olds in a mosh pit.
For some context, the first time I saw Kid Cudi, I was more impressed by the backing band (which shouldn’t be a surprise because the guitarist for Hatebreed played for him) than Cudi himself. Woe to the Kid, then, that he decided to go solo for this tour.
When Cudi did finally walk on stage, clad in a space suit complete with an Iron Man-style glowing orb in the chest, it was like Christmas for kids who need his music to validate their life choices. During the first song, despite the haze of pot smoke, it was easy to see that I was in for two hours of Scott Mescudi mumbling over his own backing tracks. It was easier still to see I was the only person who wanted something more than that.
I kicked myself for missing the Odd Future fans drag the kids who came for Kid Cudi into a mosh pit and show them what a real rap concert could be like and then kicked myself again for missing the opportunity to be one of those OF fans myself.
The mumblecore and fat beats were broken up by a surprise appearance from Big Sean, who had dropped off the official bill for the Cud Life tour but still wanted to represent his city. It appeared that Big Sean forgot how to flow, making his and Cudi’s performance of “First Chain” even less charismatic. (At least Nas wasn’t there to show them up like he does on the studio version.)
I still had a decent time at the Cud Life tour once I looked past the flaws in the performance. The mumbling is Kid Cudi’s schitck, and while in the studio it translates into an intimate way to voice his fears, on stage it fails to catch your ear. I could see his fans bought into it anyway, and this show was a way for them to have a connection to someone who had given them the soundtrack to their formative years. The spectacle of the set and stage was great, and the light show kicking in during the “Pursuit of Happiness” remix was a fantastic way to end the night.
Ultimately, it’s unfortunate I must give Kid Cudi’s live performance points for its style and not its substance. Maybe I’m just the uncool kid who never got into the Kid Cudi club when he was that age.
Photo Credit: Spencer White