Kanye West Just Stands There While Pre-Released Music Plays During Headlining Rolling Loud Festival ‘Performance’

For their headlining set opening the Rolling Loud California festival in Los Angeles on Thursday night, Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign merely stood onstage for an hour while pre-recorded music from their already released first album played over the loudspeakers.

While the wording in the official announcement of the late-added performance was unspecific — “Vultures headlining new Thursday night,” the since-deleted post read — it’s safe to say that most people expected the duo, who have been working together under the name Vultures, to at least deliver vocals. But instead, the pair — clad in dark hooded outfits, with West wearing his now-familiar hockey mask — merely roamed the circular stage at SoFi Stadium for an hour while their “Vultures 1” album played. After the duo had left the stage, a DJ played hits from earlier in West’s career as the stage filled with dry ice.

More from Variety

The pair defended their appearance in an interview on Big Boy TV in the early hours of Friday, with West claiming, “People just came for the experience.”

Sources tell Variety that the festival had expected a more conventional performance as well, and even erected a special stage with a circular lighting rig for the set, which was announced on Feb. 15 and added as a stand-alone Thursday night show for the three-day weekend festival, months after the full lineup was unveiled. Many people criticized the festival for hosting West, due to his antisemitic remarks over the past months, which have left him without a label or publishing deal and cost him all of his high-profile endorsement deals.

There was no immediate confirmation of reports that the pair were to be paid $10 million for the appearance.

While the format was similar to his public album-listening sessions that he’s staged for nearly every release since the run-up to the “Life of Pablo” album in 2016, they’ve always been advertised as such — and have never before featured only previously released music, or taken place at a festival. It was unclear whether the move was a statement about the album — which West has gloated about reaching No. 1 on the Billboard 200, despite his detractors — or some sort of dig at Rolling Loud, a festival he has performed at twice before.

Given West’s often-contrarian nature, it would not be surprising to see him take the stage with another artist later during the festival, which kicks off in earnest tonight and runs through Sunday with acts including Nicki Minaj, Post Malone and the duo of Future and Metro Boomin.

Not surprisingly, many fans were enraged while others defended West, although rarely specifically about Thursday night’s format. Thursday-only tickets were sold for the event, although fans who had already purchased tickets for the festival’s main three nights did not pay extra for admission. Attendees say venue entrances were very congested before the show, causing many fans to arrive late.

Reps for Rolling Loud did not immediately respond to Variety’s request for comment.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.