Coachella gave Kanye West a mountain Sunday morning, and this time, Lord, did he ever deliver the gospel.
West, making his fourth billed appearance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, is taking aim at history on a grassy knoll, backed by an orchestra and a choir combining rap and hymns for an Easter Sunday Service. It is the festival’s first major event in the campground, taking place before the main bill began on the final day of the 2019 event.
Among the celebrities on or near the stage: West’s wife Kim Kardashian West, Khloe Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, Kris Jenner and Chance the Rapper.
The orchestra started around 9:10 a.m., playing to a crowd of thousands. After a long interlude from the orchestra, West walked down the mountain and hugged Chance the Rapper as he took the stage.
Early on in the set, the choir director asked the crowd to “turn up the volume on that praise.” That didn’t happened until the choir finally started singing. With their backs to the audience, they took everyone to church with heavenly melodies — and energetic dancing to match.
The choir remixed hymns celebrating the resurrection of Jesus with contemporary refrains, like “Back to Life” by Soul II Soul.
An unidentified singer on the stage sang, “We’re stepping out on faith, his love is pure.” He implored the crowd to wave their hands to Jesus, and they did.
The choir leader did a call and response with the choir, singing “breathing in, receive the morning light, and “we have everything we need.”
Teyana Taylor sang a rousing “Never Would Have Made It.”
By 10:30 a.m., the crowd had swelled to at least 10,000.
While the crowd gathered at the festival site appeared moved by the music, viewers of the Coachella 2019 livestream had harsh words, mostly focused at the “porthole” camera perspective.
Some at the scene were hoping for more.
One hour and 45 minutes in, Scott Hill of Los Angeles said, “It’s legit for the most part. But I expected a different vibe. The energy is good, but I expected a little more. But the set’s not over.”
Just before 11, Kanye broke into a raw “All Falls Down” from his seminal album “The College Dropout,” perhaps delivering what some in the audience were hoping for. He then debuted a new song, “Water.” Halfway through the song Ty Dolla Sign joined him on the stage to finish out the song.
Chance the Rapper joined Kanye for “Ultralightbeam” from “The Life of Pablo.”
Then a sermon began, with DMX imploring: “We teach women to honor their men and men to respect their ladies. It’s a time of spiritual warfare. We’re comfortable in the middle.”
Perhaps the most haunting moment came as strains of “Jesus Walks” rang out over the field. The crowd went wild as Kanye came down the mountain to rap all the way around the grass.
Shortly after “Jesus Walks,” the crowd started to file out. But the choir persisted, returning to the refrain “He’s alive” and interacting with the audience.
Just hours before Kanye’s Sunday service Sunday morning, he made a surprise appearance during Kid Cudi’s Weekend 2 performance on Saturday. He performed three songs with Cudi, including “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” from West’s album, “The Life of Pablo.
Read more at USAToday.com.