Late But Great: Kanye West’s Secret Brooklyn Show

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Kanye West performs in Brooklyn on June 9, 2011

I don’t know why I expected Kanye West to be on time. 

Last night, the caps-lock happy hip-hop star (who seems to have abandoned Twitter—what is that about?) and his G.O.O.D. Music crew put on a secret show at Brooklyn’s Williamsburgh Savings Bank that started three hours late. Heineken had provided us with free beer to keep us happy, but it wasn’t enough. By midnight, Kanye still wasn’t there. We were tired, our feet hurt and the beer just made us have to use the bathroom. “You people act like you’re surprised a rap concert didn’t start on time,” chided Aziz Ansari, who showed up to MC the show. Hmm. Good point.

(MORE: Kanye West’s Magical, Unstoppable Twitter Feed)

I had never seen a concert in a former bank before. I hung out by the check-writing tables, where the pens had along ago been freed from their chains. And even though I have a tendency to quote Kanye’s tweets in casual conversation (wait, should I not admit that?) I’d never seen him in concert. Would he be good? Would he yell something offensive at me? I had no idea what to expect. I kept thinking about how I needed to pay my bills.

As it turns out, Kanye West is just as delightfully bombastic on stage as he is off. He had the sunglasses. He had the gold chains. He had the swagger, the pained expressions, and—at one point—he even had smoke clouds and a raised pillar from which he performed his 2007 song “Flashing Lights.” Kanye ran through most of his hits—from “Jesus Walks” and “Gold Digger’ to “Runaway” and “All of the Lights”—and then treated us to some of the slightly more obscure tracks that he released online for free last year.

In interviews and at public appearances, Kanye often seems egotistical—at times even ridiculous. But he knows what he’s doing. Last night he put on one of the most energetic, original concerts I’ve seen so far this year (definitely the best one held in a former bank) and his most recent album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is an exercise in pop perfection. I even picked it as TIME’s top album of 2010. If Kanye really is great, does he have to be humble too? What, exactly, do we expect of him?

The show, part of Heineken’s Red Star Access summer concert series, also featured performances by Kid Cudi, Pusha T, Big Sean, Mr. Hudson and CyHi Da Prynce. The group will travel to nine cities this summer, including Chicago, New Orleans and Washington, DC. If you see them, wear comfortable shoes and get ready to wait around while Kanye, I don’t know, polishes his gold goblets backstage or something.

(LIST: Top 10 Albums of 2010)