There was no way I was going to be able to go to sleep the night I saw Kendrick Lamar perform for the second time in 5 months. Not after hearing my favorite tracks off of good kid, m.A.A.d city. Not after seeing tracks off of what I consider the album of the year played live for me. Satisfaction is the only thing that enveloped my being during and after that show. Obviously I was tired and sore and my eyes hurt like none other from the sweat-drenched contacts that surrounded my corneas. But not even my diminished eyesight could stop the pure satisfaction that was overwhelming my being.
I don’t think I could have asked for a more perfect way to end my run of concerts this year. As I begin to sit back and reflect on who I have seen this year and the artists that I have been in the presence of, I’m beginning to realize I spent a lot of time at both Sunshine and Launchpad, listening to music. Each and every concert I have been to has given me either a new perspective on life, or opened my eyes to something new about what music truly means to me. I know I have said it before, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out why I did not attend as many concerts as I have this past semester. I finally know where to go when I need to feel truly at peace with the world and myself. And that’s at Sunshine, standing, bumping or moshing into different people all brought together to experience music. The sweat and the music and the smell of attempted spliffs being lit up just feel like home to me now. Now when I see a drunk moron at a concert, instead of shaking my head in disgust, I look at them with a new light and see that music means just as much to them maybe as it does to me. Who am I to judge how someone enjoys their night?
Anyway, seeing Kendrick was amazing. And I knew it was going to be. That’s why I got there at 5:30 to start standing in line. The crazy thing was, I was not even the most dedicated fan there. Not even close. Apparently people had been camping out since noon that afternoon and by the time I rolled through at 5:30, the line was already down the first block. Luckily though, my bro had scored us some spots in line and my mulleted friend and me began our quest to see Kendrick Lamar.
Weirdly, standing in line for over 2 hours really didn’t faze me. Neither did waiting for Kendrick to come on for another 2 hours once we got inside. If there was one thing that did, it was seeing an arrest not 20 feet away from me as an undercover cop attempted to tackle some fleeing bro. A real cop car then showed up and stopped in the middle of the intersection so he could leap out and cuff the poor guy. I felt bad, the guy was probably just out there trying to function. It looked like all he did was have a little weed and got scared so he ran away. But I knew what I was about to see and even while poor dudes were being arrested, I knew I had to stay focused on the task at hand.
I did get a bit annoyed when some sort of local rap conglomerate called “Intra Scope Squad” or something dumb like that were allowed to come out and play a couple songs. I mean, I was fine with the DJ that played first. In fact I was more than fine, he played “Mercy” for gods sake! And to top it all off, he threw down “Clique,” “N***** In Paris,” “Peso,” and just about every popular rap song in the game right now. So that got me pretty hyped. It’s just those goddamn Intra Scope guys kind of killed the vibe if you know what I mean.
But then DJ Ali came out with the same Afro he rocked at Pitchfork and I knew it was time for the real show. Kendrick walked onto stage soon after, wearing a blue LA hat and he immediately went into some track off of Overly Dedicated. I got a little scared actually, because I really wanted to know every track he played and I didn’t recognize that first one. Thankfully, the next track was “Hol’ Up” and I instantly remembered Pitchfork and his eerily similar opening track there. From there on out I slowly reminisced about this summer and all the shows I had seen. I remember vividly looking up at the top of Sunshine for the first time and seeing what the ceiling actually looked like (kind of tan with a lot of cracks). I know, I can’t believe I was distracted from Kendrick either, but just seeing him play “Hol’ Up” and “P & P 1.5” really made me realize how great this year had been.
During this whole time, my brother was separated from the group because he had to roll in late because of a band concert. I really, really wanted to experience this show with him, so I was a bit worried that as Kendrick started, Patch still wasn’t with us. But then for “ADHD”, he arrived and it just made me so happy to see him here. I was really worried he wasn’t going to make it and I would have felt so bad for him if he hadn’t been there that night. Yet there he was and I was able to join in with him to the yelling of “8 doobies to the face, fuck dat” probably the most famous line Kendrick is known for.
When those m.A.A.d city tracks hit though. Good lord. I got goose bumps. I mean. There is no other way to describe the overall feeling of elation that pumped through my blood stream. People were just completely turnt up. The hype in that building was un paralleled to any concert I have ever been to. Never have I heard more people in the crowd sing along lyrics as loudly or as accurately as that crowd. Chicks that I thought were only there because their boyfriends made them go knew the lyrics. Drunks that I thought were only there because they had nowhere else to go knew the lyrics. It was nothing else but amazing.
And the pride that Kendrick had on his face was priceless. I never felt a sense of entitlement from him. Not once during the whole show. He was genuinely pleased with how hype Albuquerque was and he was proud that his message of Hiiipower had made it this far and this deep into society. He had nothing but pride for the fact that he could sell out a show and know that there were people out there that spent over 100 dollars to scalp tickets just to see the freshest face in the rap game.
With the combination of that pride and the hype of the crowd, I can safely say, the string of “Money Trees,” “Backseat Freestyle,” “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” and “m.A.A.d. City” was the best lineup of songs I have ever heard live. As each song came on, I got more and more excited. My voice was raw and hoarse by the second minute of “Money Trees” but I kept yelling. I got so out of breath my stomach started to hurt and I knew I was close to passing out. Yet I just kept going. I remember very vividly making eye contact with all of my bros I was there with, about every 30 seconds, and every time I saw the joy I was feeling reflected on their faces and I got more and more hyped. The big black lady next to me that kept bumping into Rey also knocked me a couple times and each time I felt her tits push up on my back I knew that there was not one person in the entire place who was standing still. On my other side there was another bro who knew more lyrics than me but danced just like me, pumping his arms and raising his palms to the sky, thanking the Based God for this moment. It was simply. Perfect. The chorus to “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” very nearly brought me to tears as I looked up at the enormous ceiling of Sunshine and I quietly thanked the Based God again for letting me experience this concert with these great bros and in this great city at my second home, Sunshine Theater.
Also check Patrick DeBonis’ setlist he made from the night,