kendrick in bristol

Kendrick Lamar did not disappoint, as he ran through his extensive catalogue to a sold out crowd, during a great night at Bristol’s O2 Academy.

By the time I had grabbed a few beers, the first support act, UK Grime artist Scrufizzer had already taken to the stage; Although it might of been nice to of been given a chance to settle in, it was good to see a smooth running show with little time having to be spent waiting around. Scrufizzer was a name that rang a bell, but I had never delved into his music extensively.  However his lively performance, featuring bassy beats and a double-time flow (dubbed the “fizzy flow”), he ran through a brief 20 minute set of his own tunes, as well as a couple of covers of popular songs, to make sure the audience could relate (such as The Throne’s “N*ggas In Paris” and Labrinth’s “Earthquake”). Supported on stage, as a kind of hype man, was fellow grime MC Saskilla; together they provided a high-energy performance, which I felt deserved a bigger reaction from the crowd, who at this point were still piling into the venue.

Rascals were the second support act, a collective of MC’s from London, who also performed a short but sweet set. I managed to briefly speak to them after the gig, and they told me they were 19; this blew my mind, as their stage presence and chemistry together suggested they had been doing it for time. They smashed it, and as the crowd was bigger now, it created a bit more of a buzz around the place. I couldn’t find a video of them at the gig, so here’s one of the songs they performed…

One of the only disappointments of the night for me, was the wait between Rascals and Kendrick. Being an absolute fan girl when it comes to hip-hop tunes, I was expecting a DJ set to hype up the crowd, as I experienced at a J. Cole show at the 02. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one, just background music while they organised the stage for the big event.

The lights came on. The instrumental to “The Art Of Peer Pressure” was playing. The anticipation in the crowd was at a high point.  Then running out comes Kendrick Lamar, who performs… “Westside, Right On Time”? Although an unorthodox way to set it off, it caught everyone by surprise and by going into one of the fan favourite’s, he hyped everyone up massively. His high octane performance didn’t falter throughout the show, and although the atmosphere became more chilled at certain points (probably nothing to do with the herbal aroma around the air), Lamar always delivered to a high standard. He got the crowd involved on the more chilled songs such as “A.D.H.D.” and “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”, and just let them go fucking mental on his bass-driven tracks, like “Backseat Freestyle”, which was probably the highlight of the entire night. Just look at the crowds reaction!

Not only did he focus on songs off his major debut release g.o.o.d. kid, MA.A.D. City (which we reviewed here) as expected, he also ran through several of his older unreleased songs, as well as tracks off his Section 80 project. This was particularly pleasing, as it showed he hadn’t forgotten what got him to the level of fame he’s at now. It also went down a treat, and the crowd seemed to know every word to every song, no matter how underground, and that surprised me a lot.

Another massive moment came when he dropped his verse to A$AP Rocky’s smash “Fuckin’ Problems”; the crowd once again went mental, and was one of the best moments atmosphere wise. It would of been nice to of seen Kendrick deliver a few of his other guest verses (such as on Ab-Souls “Black Lip Bastard” and Game’s “The City”. I’ll let him off though, it is his show and he has a large enough catalogue as it is.

There was a couple of let downs however, albeit extremely minor ones.  I’ve always been a massive fan of Kendrick, and felt his set was a little too short. Although the ticket price was reasonable, I still expected a longer set, especially as he omitted some of his big songs such as “Compton”. Also the lack of a live band was a bit disappointing; songs like “HiiiPower” would of really prospered with live drums.

Overall, the night was fucking fantastic. Great performance from the support, and a great performance from the main. The crowd was great, and it was hilarious when Kendrick pointed out the one nob head in the crowd who threw a drink from the balcony and everyone in the room proceeded to chant “jump”. His stage presence was second to none, especially considering the short time he’s been a touring artist. He mixed it up between songs with crowd interaction, and also managed to spit a freestyle which was highly enjoyable. I hope that he returns “no matter how big this shit gets” as he promised.

Here’s a couple more random videos from the night:

Rating: 8.5/10

Highlights: Backseat Freestyle – Swimming Pools – Fuckin’ Problems – Cartoons and Cereal – m.A.A.d. City

Set List: 

Into: The Art Of Peer Pressure (Instrumental)

Westside, Right On Time
Hol’ Up
Fuckin’ Problems
Tammy’s Song
Look Out For Detox
Money Trees
Backseat Freestyle
Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe
Poetic Justice
m.A.A.d. City
Chapter Six
The Recipe
Swimming Pools (Drank)
I Am (Accapella)

Encore: Cartoons and Cereal