Kanye West came, but did not play

Kanye West.
Kanye West.

NEW YORK • Thousands of fans clogged New York's streets early on Monday, hoping for a surprise show by rap superstar Kanye West, who appeared in the crowd, but ultimately did not play.

He had been due on Sunday to headline New York's Governors Ball music festival, but the final day was cancelled on fears of heavy thunderstorms.

After he wrote vaguely on Twitter about a show at 2am, within minutes the streets were packed. Maybe a couple of thousand fans converged around Webster Hall - a historic venue in the city's East Village neighbourhood and favourite spot for unannounced gigs - in the street, on the sidewalks, on stoops, on balconies and sitting atop Postal Service trucks, waiting for the concert.

Police were forced for more than an hour to close the area to traffic, with the authorities sending out a traffic notice to residents, after thousands swarmed onto the streets including on parked cars, some chanting West's name.

Just past 2am, as a black car neared the venue, fans surrounded it and forced the vehicle to slow, with a smiling West, 38, appearing out of the sunroof to acknowledge the crowd, footage posted on social media showed.

But he did not perform, likely due to the mayhem. Webster Hall, whose main floor has a capacity of 1,500, informed fans that there would be no late surprise show and asked them to go home.

Later, mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted to West and his wife, Kim Kardashian, advising them on the need for planning. "Great block parties are planned," he wrote.

West's appearance at the Governors Ball festival would have been one of his first shows since he released his latest album, The Life Of Pablo in February. A master of staying in the spotlight, he has also said he plans to run for president in 2020.

A younger rapper who had been due to play on Sunday at the Governors Ball, Vic Mensa, played on Sunday evening at Webster Hall in a last-minute but announced show.

Australian indie rock sensation Courtney Barnett, who was also among the cancelled acts, performed a free show at the Rough Trade record store in Brooklyn.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2016, with the headline 'Kanye West came, but did not play'. Print Edition | Subscribe