Bonnaroo, more than any other festival of its kind, blends the music and comedy world through its bookings of some of biggest names in both areas. Sometimes the acts are 100% musical, as you don’t hear Billy Joel cracking many jokes in the middle of ‘Piano Man’. Sometimes the acts are nothing but comedy. While Jeff Ross has roasted comedians before, you won’t be hearing him drop any mixtapes in the future (at least I don’t think so). Then finally, sometimes the acts are more in the middle of the two worlds. Childish Gambino’s appearance at Bonnaroo was just about the music, but he still has a successful stand up comedy and television career. Ed Helms is best known for his work on “The Office” and the Hangover series, but he was killing it on the banjo Sunday night. Then you have Jack Antonoff, who isn’t as overtly comical as Ed and Gambino, but who is no stranger to comedy in both his personal and professional life. We met with Jack at Bonnaroo, shortly before he rocked the Tennessee crowd with his indie pop act “Bleachers”, to ask the leading guitarist of “fun.” about the comedy and music worlds, new music, and his forthcoming music festival.
It’s graduation day. Finally his big day is here. I’ve seen him work his ass off for over a decade and today everything that he is done is being recognized by way of a doctoral degree. Years ago, he promised his mother (an educator who earned her doctorate decades ago) that he was going back to school. While she left this world far too soon, she is certainly looking down to watch her son, a college dropout, finally receive his degree. To be there in person and to share such a special moment was an honor. I could not be any more proud.
Now you would probably assume I know this college dropout personally. Instead the college dropout I am talking about isn’t just any college dropout, he is “THE College Dropout,” Mr. Kanye West. It was a weird feeling. In many ways I felt a sense of pride for Kanye. I felt like I was at a graduation for a family member. While I do not know Kanye personally, it seems like I have been with him since the moment he dropped out of college until today, when he received his honorary doctorate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Music will do that to you, as long as you love it that much. People will spend every ounce of energy they have to defend an artist’s every questionable move. Fans will put up their last penny to get tickets for an artist’s summer tour. When your favorite singer wins their first Grammy, you feel like you won your first Grammy. Music turns a relationship you have with someone you have never met into a close personal relationship.
Luckily pride is not exclusive to personal relationships. Given the amount of detail that Kanye West has shared with his fans throughout his career, from the death of his mother to his darkest moments and heartbreaks, a Kanye fan can easily imagine what Kanye was feeling today. His graduation day was a day removed from Mother’s Day, Kanye West would not only receive a great honor for his contributions to the arts (whether it be music or fashion) but he would also share a degree with his mother, the late Dr. Donda West, which she earned over three decades ago. As expected from a college professor, Dr. West originally disapproved of Kanye’s dropout from college, believing that a college education was the only ticket to your goals. While she eventually came to accept and understand Kanye’s decision (and later managed Kanye’s career), you can only imagine how proud she would be to see her son on his graduation day.
This is why I had to find a way into the graduation ceremony to watch Kanye receive his honorary degree. Personally I have been a big Kanye fan since his 2004 debut with The College Dropout, so to witness a big moment of his career in person was my only option. While at times I contemplated finding and buying a ticket from a SAIC graduation student, The Early Registration was fortunate enough to receive an invitation to the ceremony to see Kanye receive his honorary doctorate in person. Before I knew it, it was just seconds before The College Dropout’s Graduation.
“I guess this is my dissertation. Homie, this shit is basic. Welcome to Graduation.” – Kanye West (‘Good Morning’)
For today’s dissertation, Kanye opened by labeling himself as a pop artist. “I’m a pop artist, so my medium is public opinion, and the world is my canvas. ‘I’m sorry’ is something you can use a lot, it gives you the opportunity to give your opinion, apologize for it, and give your opinion again,” said Kanye. While Kanye can come off as cocky and arrogant to many, Kanye humbled himself by admitting that today made him feel nerves that he isn’t used to feeling. Receiving over 20 Grammys, having your albums given perfect scores by the most respected publications, having your shoes sell out in seconds and then resold for thousands on eBay, it is hard to imagine that anything could make Kanye West nervous. But today did.
This achievement isn’t an end of a chapter for Kanye West, it is still just the beginning. Like his fellow graduates, who received their degrees in a more conventional way, today marks a moment where everything can become easier. Now the College Dropout is rebranded as Dr. West. Now his art has yet another huge co-sign. Now he can tell his late mother that he did finally get that college degree. Like Kanye told the SAIC crowd today, things will be easier now that he can say he has a degree from the Art Institute of Chicago. And I was more than glad I could be there to witness it all in person.
Check out our photos from the ceremony here and watch Kanye’s speech below.
Dan Garcia isn’t your “average photographer”. By day he is a 26-year-old lawyer from Wisconsin with no formal photography training. In fact, just a few months ago was his first time in a photo pit and his first time ever shooting with a DSLR camera. But despite breaking traditional norms for entering into the competitive music photography world, Garcia landed his first gig at Lollapalooza, where he shot for the first time among some of the best music photographers in the country. In less than a year’s time, he has shot photos of some of the biggest names in music, including Kanye West, Eminem, Outkast, Lorde, Calvin Harris, Childish Gambino, Chance the Rapper, Migos, FKA Twigs and Wilco, just to name a few. He also founded this very site, The Early Registration, (among other reasons) to continue to shoot concerts and also give opportunities for other young photographers to shoot shows throughout the country. For someone who describes himself both as “not a real photographer” but who ask views himself as one of the best music photographers in Chicago, we wanted to interview the young lawyer slash photographer.
Last year Consequence of Sound posted a feature I wrote, titled “Let’s Play Moneyball with a Summer Music Festival”. In the piece I used price quotes of popular musicians to swap out acts from the 2014 lineup of Milwaukee’s music festival Summerfest, in attempts to also make “the World’s Largest Music Festival” also the world’s best music festival (in my opinion of course). This year I wanted to do the same, in anticipation of Summerfest releasing its full lineup within the next couple months. I used the estimated budget that I calculated last year and booked a number of great and relevant acts in 2015, to show just how great Summerfest COULD be (when the festival as is, is already pretty great!).
Earlier this month, Kanye West received a great deal of bad press after a misunderstanding where he tried to get everyone in the crowd to stand up, during a concert in Australia. After pointing out a couple of fans in the audience, Kanye later realized that one of the individuals was in a wheelchair and then continued the concert by performing his hit ‘Good Life’. After a number of misleading headlines, incorrectly suggesting that Kanye shamed the disabled man, Kanye performed a hometown surprise set at Chicago’s AAHH! Fest, just a few days later. In the audience was another very special surprise guest, but he wasn’t there to perform, he was there to enjoy some good live music.
Last night after much anticipation, Common brought Kanye West on the stage to perform at 16-song surprise setlist at the first annual AAHH! Fest in Chicago. Only The Early Registration and a bunch of dedicated fans were there to catch the performance in the front row. Check out some of our great and exclusive pictures and videos of Mr. West.
There are just 15 days (September 30th) until the eligibility period ends for the 57th annual Grammy awards. In what looks to be an arguably week year for critically acclaimed albums, and what has also been the year for surprise releases, some of your favorite artists could still swoop in and steal the most prestigious award in music. We certainly wouldn’t rule it out.
In our inaugural summer, we got to see, enjoy and cover a lot of great shows during the festival season. Working with Pigeons and Planes, I did their coverage at Lollapalooza and exclusively for The ER we were approved to cover Chicago’s North Coast Music Festival. Check out the best shots we took over the summer, with artists such as Eminem, Outkast, Chance the Rapper, Kid Cudi, Snoop Dogg, Childish Gambino and much more!
Yesterday ended North Coast Music Festival’s 5th Anniversary. With performances by artists such as Bassnectar, Talib Kweli, Kid Cudi, Action Bronson, Riff Raff and many others, the festival closed out with a headlining performance by Snoop Dogg. Check out some of our Sunday photos.