I’ve never been much of a fan of Good Kid M.a.a.D. City, but not because I don’t think Kendrick Lamar is talented. As overhyped as that album was, he’s proven time and again that he can deliver more than we expect from him. I had no idea he would be playing with a live band, which made his Pitchfork performance the biggest surprise of the weekend. He’s an absolute beast on stage, fully earning the headlining spot.
He hit the stage 20 minutes later than scheduled (a must for rappers throughout the festival), but I don’t think anyone ever thought about leaving. After sailing through a song he announced himself saying “Chicago! My name is Kendrick Motherfucking Lamar! This is Good Kid MotherFuckin m.A.A.d City!!!” In a relatively short time he’s become a real crowd pleaser, getting everyone involved and keeping the vibe positive. He isn’t the brutal hard-hitter Pusha T is, nor the good-time loving Schoolboy Q is, but he makes up for it with pure talent and charisma.
The live band element really raises the bar over other hip-hop acts here at Pitchfork this weekend. While Pusha, Q, and Earl Sweatshirt all relied on DJ work to create their sound, Lamar plays with some talented guys which allows him a little room to improvise. It also means that when he isn’t riding a beat it isn’t just silence. That was my one problem with Q’s set, and it wasn’t an issue for Lamar. The only long pause coming at a planned point for “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst.”
Friday and Saturday I saw a lot of people leave early, but tonight it seems like everyone is staying put. Even those who told me earlier that they’d probably jet before Kendrick started. He’s just a magnetic guy. Tough to tear yourself away from watching him.
I couldn’t stay for the whole set, but I gladly would have. I was really curious as to whether he would bring Q out to do one of their collabs, but it didn’t happen in the 45 minutes or so I was able to watch. If he comes back to town, I would definitely consider checking out another show.