Kendrick Lamar gives phenomenal performance at Jesse Hall

Raj Satpathy

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December began with a bass-heavy bang. On the first, Kendrick Lamar graced Jesse Hall with his presence, selling out the auditorium within a day of the tickets going on sale. Though more than 1,700 fans attended the concert, the lines didn’t involve an unnecessarily long wait, a welcome change from the lengthy delays that often accompany performances of this caliber.

The recent release of Good Kid, m.A.A.d City catapulted Lamar into the upper echelons of the rap game. A mostly unknown factor even after his album debut in July of last year with Section.80, Lamar has since dazzled many enthusiasts of the genre with his unique voice and penetrating delivery. GKMC is hailed as one of the seminal works of hip-hop released, earning Kendrick the title of “Next Big Rapper,” according to Rolling Stone. So, when the concert began, the audience was thrumming with excitement.

Unfortunately, the opening act by St. Louis rap collective Souls of Liberty was underwhelming at best. Though they presented an admirable amount of stage presence, frequently interacting with the crowd and each other, the music was sub-par. What Souls of Liberty lacked in creativity and lyrical genius, however, they made up for with infectious beats that just made one want to dance.
Much of the crowd sat in their chairs for the duration of the Souls of Liberty’s performance, but when they announced that their next song would be the last before Lamar came up, the excitement in the air was palpable. As the duo finished up and the stage darkened, a quiet hush came over the crowd. As stagehands efficiently set up Lamar’s sound stage, the audience began to chatter amongst themselves. What would he open with? Would he stick to m.A.A.d City or would he dip back into his prior releases?
After five minutes, a break in the action that felt as if it lasted forever, the lights on the stage abruptly switched off. Then, as the sound waves from Jesse’s impressive audio system boomed outwards, a spotlight shone on Lamar. As one, the crowd rose from their seats and eagerly began to wave and chant with “Money Trees”.
Contrary to the opinions of most of the attendees, myself included, Lamar performed songs off of his first mix tape, Overly Dedicated. A few of the most memorable were “P & P” and “H.O.C.” Lamar received the biggest reactions to his hit single, “Swimming Pools (Drank)” and “m.A.A.d City”, the eponymous new release from GKMC. Regardless of what he performed, the crowd was always shouting out the lyrics right back at him. Every time the audience threatened to die down, Lamar would always pull the energy levels right back up with a well-placed banger or two.
While Lamar exhibited his musical abilities all night, the best part of the night was his showmanship. His banter with the audience was well-done, hyping them up even more than the songs. At one point, Lamar yelled out, “Which one of y’all want to get f*cked up with me after the show?” The crowd absolutely loved it.
The only drawback to an otherwise perfect rap experience was the length of his appearance. Lamar appeared on stage at about 8:45 p.m and exited after a single encore at 9:30 p.m. Souls of Liberty were on the stage for a longer period with about 50 minutes of stage time to their names. That being said, the 45 minutes for which Lamar was up on stage were awesome.
Lamar ended the show off with a promise to the crowd. “It’s my first out here, so we already made history,” Lamar said. “But I promise, no matter how big this gets, I’ll be back.”
By Rajesh Satpathy
Did you attend the show? What did you think? Do you like the music?
Click here to buy Good Kid, m.A.A.d City