Kanye West Plays Surprise Show in Beverly Hills (Photos)

Nina Dobrev, Zach Galifianakis, Alicia Silverstone, Chrissy Teigen, Ted Danson and Bryan Cranston join party for “Go90” on Thursday night

Kanye was the surprise guest at Verizon's "Go90" app party in Beverly Hills. Celebs turned out big. (Background image is from September 18 of a nearly identical Kanye stage (Getty Images); Celeb photos are from the event by John Sciulli)

Kanye West played a surprise show at a private party for Verizon’s “Go90” app in Beverly Hills on Thursday night and that was only surprise No. 1.

Surprise No. 2 was that  West was in a good mood and upbeat, even when the audio engineers bungled his vocal channel on his opening song “Stronger”.

Inside a small tent on the grounds of the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and steps away from traffic whizzing by on little Santa Monica Blvd., a week after clattering New York Fashion Week the first presidential candidate to announce for 2020 delighted a few hundred invited guests as the proper noun behind an invitation that promised “Celebrity Musical Performance” and emails warning “You don’t want to miss this.”

Marco Perego and Zoe Saldana; Christian Slater at the "Go90" VIP Sneak Preview in Beverly Hills on Thursday night. (John Sciulli/Getty Images)
Marco Perego and Zoe Saldana; Christian Slater at the “Go90” VIP Sneak Preview in Beverly Hills on Thursday night. (John Sciulli/Getty Images)

The site of the Vanity Fair Oscar party – lavishly produced by Jeffrey Best on Thursday night – was chock full of stars: Nina Dobrev, Alicia Silverstone, Zoe Saldana, “Drinking with the Stars” alum Emmy Rossum, Christina Milian perched on the back of a couch in the center of the room, Chrissy Teigen wearing white after Labor Day, party-friendly documentarian and Dell-ambassador Adrian Grenier, and Joe Manganiello, who ducked out before Kanye’s first notes of “Stronger”.

Nina Dobrev and Joe Manganiello. (John Schuilli/Getty Images)
Nina Dobrev and Joe Manganiello. (John Schuilli/Getty Images)

The show followed a live “Between Two Ferns” episode in the Annenberg’s theater, where Zach Galifianakis interviewed rhyming surname duo Ted Danson and Bryan Cranston.

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: Guests attend the VIP sneak peek of the go90 Social Entertainment Platform at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on September 24, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for go90)
Nice job, Jeffrey Best. This looked good. (Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for go90)

After the crowd filed back out to the patio, West arrived through a backdoor right at his 9:30 scheduled stage time, and blew through truncated versions of 10 hits alone on stage with his sampler on a pedestal, singing over tracks.

Preceded by an hour of fog machine blasts on the slim stage and the same stadium lights backline that lit up crowds at Glastonbury and OVO Festivals for him this summer, Kanye performed cloaked in haze and shadow, blinding many in an intimate tent not much bigger than the Kibbitz Room at Canter’s.

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 18: Rapper Kanye West performs at the 2015 iHeartRadio Music Festival at MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 18, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)
Reference photo of the lighting rig from Kanye’s last show – IheartRadio in the MGM Arena in Vegas on September 18.  (Ethan Miller/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)

West sang “Touch the Sky,” “All of the Lights,” “Good Life,” “Gold Digger” “Heartless,” “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” “Power,” “Paris”, and ended with “Runaway.” He took special joy in the crowd – an older, more conservative, more sport-coated crowd than normal – loving “Gold Digger”, slapping hands in the front row.

The event launched “Go90,” a free view mobile TV app of curated programming from name brand producers like Comedy Central and Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist aimed at millenials. “Go90” refers to rotating your phone from portrait mode (thumb-typing) to landscape mode for video viewing. It allows social sharing of TV shows. After coming out of its shell at the cell phone industry’s CTIA conference in Las Vegas earlier this month with a co-sign from content provider Jeffrey Katzenberg, the app is now coming out of beta.

Adrian Grenier and Emily Osment; Alicia Silverstone. (John Schiulli/Getty Images)
Adrian Grenier and Emily Osment; Alicia Silverstone. (John Schiulli/Getty Images)

On trend with mobile and live-stream hits of the past year – see Amazon’s massive purchase of Twitch, Periscope’s instant adoption, and the recent Mirrativ app for screencasting from your mobile – Go90 will also feed live content, like this weekend’s “Life is Beautiful” festival from Las Vegas.

Guess who is headlining that show on Sunday? The same guy who is playing the Hollywood Bowl Friday and Saturday night.

“I have to save my voice for the next 2 nights,” West said, letting the crowd sing the chorus punch lines and skipping his usual mid-set sermons on creative culture and indictments of popular media. A perfect show.

Ending the set a minute before the 10:00 p.m. curfew, he gave a verbal hashtag: “2020.”