Published Jul 20, 2014Kendrick Lamar's 2012 album good kid, m.A.A.d. city was a masterpiece, thanks in large part to its emotionally complex narrative and restrained, beautifully wrought production. His appearance at Pemberton's Mt. Currie Stage, however, lacked the same nuance, as the rapper favoured in-your-face, sweat-dropping energy.
After showing up 50 minutes late (and even getting booed a little by the restless crowd), Lamar was flanked by a full live band. They beefed up the arrangements of his familiar songs, injecting hard rock muscle into songs like "Backseat Freestyle" and "m.A.A.d. city" while the man of the hour delivered his rhymes in a gravely yell. The tone was darkly dramatic, recalling the rapper's Grammy Awards team-up with Imagine Dragons from earlier this year.
Introducing himself as coming from "Compton, Cali-mother fucking-fornia," Kendrick's raucus energy whipped the crowd into a frenzy, and fans quickly forgave his lateness and feverishly obeyed his commands to lift their hands in the air. Most of the set list was drawn from good kid, but the audience was similarly enthralled by a renditions of A$AP Rocky's "Fuckin' Problems" and Schoolboy Q's "Collard Greens" (the latter of which featured a guest appearance from the bucket-hatted MC himself).
The rowdy mood finally eased back during late-set version of "Sing About Me" (which was missing its "I'm Dying of Thirst" half), as Lamar and his band delivered the heartbreaking track with subtle restraint. When the frontman asked fans to raise their phones and lighters in the air and thanked them for their loyalty, it was a beautiful moment of emotional catharsis following so much hard-hitting aggression.
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