Historically, when an artist is set to perform they have openers or at least a DJ to keep the crowd occupied until the talent hits the stage. The night of the Kid Cudi concert, only the voices of concert goers were heard through The Rave/Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee. The “Cudi” chants started at 9:01, but still nothing. Which is expected, who really starts on time these days, anyways?
At 9:11, the Lord of the Sad and Lonely hit the stage, and you realize why you didn’t need to hear anything else before that moment. The Cleveland native opened up with a song on his latest album Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’ and by surprise the audience knew every word. Typically, rap concerts at the Rave are filled with people who only know the hit singles, but there wasn’t a moment the entire concert where the whole crowd wasn’t engaged or rapping along to every song.
The visuals made the very minor delay understandable. A backdrop consisted of a forest with a purple and pink sky, theatrical smoke, and lights that corresponded with each song. There was even a prop tree on stage. As Cudi wrapped up his performance of “Kitchen,” the purple and punk turn into green and blue. A full moon rises, fog covers the stage, then the beat drops… cue “Thru the late night.”
Cudi matched the energy the crowd. During breathers between songs he engaged with audience and talked about his previous visits to Milwaukee. During the set, Cudi brought up Chip tha Ripper and the duo performed classics like “Just what I am” and “Brothers.”
At 9:53 the screen turned red, and the white fog thickened. Visuals of eye prying in the dark spread against the red screen as he performed “Mr. Rager.” If you looked down from the balcony at the audience you can see hundreds of smaller red screens from the crowd. He followed this by an eerie a cappella encore. Ten minutes later, the energy changed again.
“Now we gotta take this to the next level,” said Cudi. “This deserves all the energy ya got. Three songs in the row. Pure energy. Pure rage. We can do this sh*t!”
The lights, the smoke systems, the crowd and Cudi all raged as he performed “Cudi Zone,” “Memories,” and “Day n Night.”
Before the show ended, Cudi talked to the crowd again.
“I haven’t been on social media much,” said Cudi. “I’ve been kickin’ it with my family having too much f*ckin’ fun. Last year around this time I was just getting out of rehab. One thing that kept me through the whole time is that you guys were waiting for me. And I couldn’t wait to get in front of you and say thank you so much. I love you from the bottom of my heart.”
The crowd yelled and applauded.
Many people have credited Cudi for the influential role he played in their life. Following Kid Cudi’s admittance to rehab, comedian Pete Davidson discussed during his 2016 Breakfast Club interview how Cudi impacted him.
“He saved my life,” said Davidson. “I would have killed myself if I didn’t have Kid Cudi. If you’re 25 and under, I truly believe that Kid Cudi saved your life.”
Davidson credit Man on the Moon that features hits like “Heart of a Lion,” “Soundtrack to my Life,” and the single “Pursuit of Happiness.” Davidson isn’t the only one who feels this way. When the news broke about Cudi going to rehab, many fans expressed online how he also helped them get through tough times. There’s even multiple sites that sell “Cudi saved my life” t-shirts.
As Cudi continued his speech, he gave the audience some encouraging words.
“You are a survivor,” said Cudi. “You can get through this, believe me. If I can, you can too. Be proud of yourself, you made the choice.”
Cudi closed the show with “Pursuit of Happiness” and “Surfin’.” The background colors turned orange and yellow. The smoke was white and the blue and red lights created a purple glow on the stage. Confetti streamed into the audience the duration of the two songs; once finished, Cudi jumped into the front pit to shake hands with people in the crowd.
At 10:32 p.m. the show ended. The performance was nothing less than magical.
Normally when concerts end, you get that “awww, that’s it” feeling. But Cudi’s set just left you feeling in awe. The last time Cudi was in Milwaukee was 3 year ago and he insisted it wouldn’t be as long the next time. For now, there’s just four shows left on the Passion, Pain and Demon Slayin’ tour and we’ll have to wait and see what’s next from the Moon Man.