Kendrick Lamar Brings the House Down at the Chaifetz Arena 4/17/13: Review and Setlist
An intro video played over the song "The Art of Peer Pressure," quickly incorporating Lamar's laid-back-with-a-vengeance attitude into the monitor above the stage. The crowd started dancing as hard as possible, then the lights came up as the song finished to just the DJ onstage. People continued to dance and sing along, although the confusing tension could've been cut with whatever one uses to tear open a blunt.
Then Compton's newest prodigy, Mr. Kendrick Lamar, tore onto the stage, ripping into "Westside, Right On Time" to the most adoring crowd I've ever been a part of. All the thugs, weirdos, nerds, normies and (ugh...I'm worn on this term) "hipsters" all jumped headfirst into the atmosphere and had a kick-ass time. Throughout the show, Lamar performed with the chops of a veteran twice his age. He operated the crowd like a bunch of marionette puppets, only with bigger booties and camera-phones. He seemed in control and excited, announcing that this was his first time performing in St. Louis. "What the fuck is up, STL? Party tonight!" A clever way to get people to do what you want: Yell a bunch of nonsensical colloquialisms at a bunch of drunk people -- nobody wants to be the one who doesn't get it.
Lamar did his own music justice. He didn't rely on any hypemen, other than the crowd. When he surprised us with the chorus and his verse from A$ap Rocky's hit "Fuckin Problems," he kept going after the song was over. He started to repeat his verse, and then turned the mic to the crowd. It's pretty cool to take part in a mob of people screaming at one another, "Girl! You know you want this dick!" He continued to do this after most of his songs, most notably "Backseat Freestyle" and "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe." We bitches definitely did our best not to.
The 60-plus-minute set was a very random, fun, collective experience. I think this is how eleven- to sixteen-year-olds feel after seeing their favorite band for the first time. It was refreshing, among all the possibilities for annoyance or disappointment, to just let go and scream my fuckin' head off with everyone else.
"Who been with me from day one?" Kendrick said, testing the crowd. "How many of y'all motherfuckers know bout Section 80?" That had EVERY MOTHERFUCKER BOUNCIN' immediately, to prove themselves winners in a nonexistent competition for "number-one Kendrick fan." The only fan called out by Lamar's playful threat was "some motherfucker who ain't turnt up, but gonna be turnt by the end of the show."
Kendrick continued, telling everyone in the SLU gymnasium that "Y'all need to be the loudest motherfuckin' school on this whole tour." It didn't seem forced, just encouraging for everyone to have the best party that they could handle. Eventually he conceded that this had, in fact, been the loudest school on the tour. Which can never be proven or disproved without that decibel reader test thingy Manowar used to win "loudest band on Earth" a million years ago.
Regardless, Lamar seemed to be dishing out as much fun as he was having. He then went into "The Recipe." If you've heard the song, then you know that it namedrops a bunch of cities -- New York, Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, etc. It is the modern hip-hop equivalent to "The Heart of Rock n' Roll" by Huey Lewis & the News. Not in that it is cheesy and blows dogs, but rather in that it was our city's chance to get motherfucking represented! Kendrick didn't disappoint, as he modified one of the lyrics in the hook to "St. Louis be fucked up!"
The set was about to come to a close after the hit single "Swimming Pools (Drank)" and the freestyle that followed. Then the untrained started to make tracks for the door, apparently somehow unaware of the existence of encores. The Kendrick chants began, and within a couple minutes the rapper returned to the stage to perform "Cartoons & Cereal," a song about those two things being the "opiate of the masses." During the end of this song Lamar pulled a little boy in the crowd onstage to dance and go nuts. Aside from the fact that the kid wouldn't stop grabbing his genitals, this seemed an almost poignant, albeit calculated move on Lamar's part, given the song's context. Still, Kendrick Lamar gave the St. Louis audience its money's worth, even if he didn't do "Fuck Your Ethnicity."
Continue to the next page for notes and the complete setlist.