Back in 2015, Elon Musk, on behalf of Time Magazine, named Kanye West the most influential person of our time. This statement came two months after Kanye had eclipsed into the fashion world – turning it upside down with Yeezy Supply. Kanye’s right hand was a brilliant creator named Virgil Abloh, creative director for Yeezy Supply. Virgil Abloh had actually started this shift in mainstream fashion years before.
Everything Virgil Abloh does sells out. Twice. That’s not meant in the negative context of the phrase. Far from it. I mean that in the way that supply for everything he does could never keep up with the demand from everyone that follows his every creation. His rise has been written about countless times and every collab featured by the hypemedia. If you’re unfamiliar with what he’s done, watch this. What I want to put to paper in this entry is less about what he’s done and more about what he inspires others to do.
In April, I was able to grab a ticket to the sold out Travis Scott Birds Eye View Tour at Terminal 5. The show had been hyped for months and sold out in under a minute. Just 24 hours before the show was set to go, Virgil Abloh announced via Instagram that he would be performing a set to open the show. He’s famed for his design talent and his ability to move the needle on pop culture, but he’s been DJing much longer.
I’ve seen a lot of DJ openers in the past, but this one meant more. Abloh is an artist. In many meanings of the word. And this show was another of his art pieces. DJs open shows to hype the crowd. Abloh opened the show as a stand alone act to present work by some of his favorite artists in his own creative vision. Knowing what he’s accomplished and what creativity he’s brought to so many facets of our culture, you could feel his talent permeate the club. Like an artist who could paint a masterpiece on any surface, with any medium.
This isn’t a review of Abloh’s show because words couldn’t be arranged in a way that would serve justice to the experience of being in that room. What hit me mid-set was a wall of admiration, inspiration, and awe. Heavy. It was admiration for the creativity in everything that he does and the seeming ease of executing it. Inspiration to walk straight out after the show and go make something of my own. And awe at the opportunity to watch him at work. Like I said, heavy.
What brought weight to that performance, like similar DJ performances, was that it was just him. His two hands. No one else. His artistry in blending Chris Botti’s trumpet lines with Migos hooks is like watching a solo guitarist captivate an entire room with just six strings and an amp.
Luckily, Leighton Pope blessed us with a snapshot of Abloh’s set. Watch below.
Just two songs into his set, the crowd was so hyped that the venue pulled the power on his table, cutting off his set until the crowd settled. The feeling that everyone in that room felt from the first drop is what makes Virgil Abloh such a pivotal creator crossing cultures. It’s his ability to move people. Whether it’s with his clothing, his abstract retail spaces, his thought provoking lectures to aspiring creators, or his music. Virgil Abloh pushes boundaries and pushes others to push those boundaries even further.
Leonardo da Vinci. Michelangelo. Virgil Abloh.