Kendrick Lamar

Green Stage, Union Park, Chicago IL, July 20

Photo: Ellie Pritts

BY Stephen CarlickPublished Jul 21, 2014

Only after a year's passing has it become clear just how bona fide a classic Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid, m.A.A.d. city is. On Sunday night (July 20) from Pitchfork Music Festival's Green Stage, Lamar delivered a set that felt like a non-stop run of classics, but the truth was that they were almost all from his celebrated 2012 debut.

After a delayed entrance, he showed up onstage for a run that included "Money Trees," "Backseat Freestyle" and "The Art of Peer Pressure." His huge rendition of "Swimming Pools (Drank)" provided the set's highlight, transcending its sombre meaning to be a live anthem.

Lamar's set was laden with emotional nuance, and the crowd picked up on it, lending songs like "Swimming Pools," "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe" and especially "Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst" incredible gravitas; on the latter, Lamar expressed his gratitude to the crowd for "still giving me that mother-fucking energy," promising them that their phones and lighters held aloft were "the stars out here we're reaching for" and urging them to repeat "promise that you will sing about me."

Which isn't to say there wasn't a party. Lamar's verse from "Fuckin' Problems" turned from pep talk to pep rally and "Poetic Justice" was lent a jazzy breakdown courtesy of his stellar band, who also provided climactic guitar for "M.A.A.D. City." He followed bangers "The Recipe" and "Compton" with the humbling admission that "there's something after it all" and provided an almost spoken word freestyle over an easy jam before leaving the stage briefly.

He returned for a quick encore of lone Section.80 track "A.D.H.D.," a perfect reminder that Kendrick Lamar was Kendrick Lamar before he became a Good Kid, and that the man who would be king is now firmly seated in the throne.

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