Thousands of dedicated music fans flooded the doors of the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth, Georgia, on the rainy evening of July 17 for the “DAMN.” tour.
Never was there a more fitting venue name for a Kendrick Lamar concert. Despite the dreary summer storm outside, energy levels were through the roof inside the arena. This was a concert that many people had waited for all summer long.
Upon entering the venue, mobs of people crowded the merchandise stand, anxious to claim their limited-edition concert memorabilia.
The night opened with a performance by artist D.R.A.M. He played his top 40 friendly song “Broccoli” as concert attendees filled in empty seats around the venue.
Once it was completely packed, the energetic buzz around the room was almost overwhelming. Hip-hop artist Travis Scott took the stage as fans jumped, screamed and applauded at his presence—shouting every last word they knew to his songs.
Many hip-hop fans will argue that his live performances are unparalleled within the industry, so experiencing him and Kendrick Lamar in one night was a special treat to say the least.
Earlier this summer, Atlanta-based rapper 2 Chainz dropped the song “4 AM.” The track features Scott on the chorus, so it was no surprise that it made its way into the set list.
What was not expected was for 2 Chainz to make a special guest appearance.
Scott and 2 Chainz shared the stage with an ambitious duo-performance of “4 AM” that had fans shrieking for more.
So what did Scott give them? He gave them more.
“4 AM is my favorite song,” Scott said. “So we’re gonna play it again.”
People lost all composure when Scott told the crowd they would rewind and perform the track for a second time.
The artist then took things to new heights with his early summer tune “Butterfly Effect,” during which he flew a giant bird above the crowd. He stood proud atop the animatronic structure as he lit his fans up with excitement.
Later in the show, Quavo—1/3 of “Nawf” Atlanta native rap group Migos—hopped on stage to represent their home of Gwinnett County.
Completely in his element, Quavo accompanied Scott as they performed their features on the track “Portland” by Drake. They followed this song with a performance of the club anthem “Pick Up the Phone” by Scott and Young Thug.
The final hit was a ground-shaking version of Travis Scott and Kendrick Lamar’s “Goosebumps.” Although Lamar was in attendance, he did not come out for an appearance, leaving fans with nothing but goosebumps for what was to come.
Damn, set break…
During the short break before the night’s main event, the sweet tunes of alternative R&B artist SZA played from the arena’s speakers as attendees braced themselves for the near future.
Along with Kendrick Lamar, SZA is one of eight music artists signed with the independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment.
Lamar is known for epic lyrical composition that tell stories of personal and societal experience. He has an ability to bring different cultures together while shedding light on the sweet and sour of reality.
Travis warmed up the crowd, and it was clear Kendrick Lamar would light the place on fire as soon as a curtain reading “THE DAMN. TOUR” appeared on stage.
Kung Fu Kenny now
The curtain was pulled to the ceiling and a karate-themed video portraying the life and times of Kung Fu Kenny (Lamar’s moniker) was displayed. This nickname is made apparent throughout the artist’s latest album “DAMN.,” and the theme stayed relevant throughout the remainder of the concert.
Suddenly, Kung Fu Kenny himself appeared on stage, entrancing fans as he recited lyrics to “D.N.A.,” a banger track off the recent album.
Unique from many hip-hop performances, Lamar spent most of his time alone on stage besides the occasional guest appearance from his ninja friends. They kept the Kung Fu vibe alive and danced with fluidity as Lamar captivated his audience with lyrical storytelling.
That’s the special thing about his lyrics—they mystify you as you attempt to piece them together; and then empathy runs through you like water as you identify with meaning.
Later in the show, Lamar broke out with a smoking hot version of “King Kunta,” a funky track off his 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly. The entire crowd hung onto every last word as Lamar strutted around the stage to each beat.
Lamar went on to rap his verse off the summer remix of “Mask Off” by Atlanta-based rapper Future. Metro Boomin’s notorious beat bumped loud as instruments performed a live rendition of the remixed tune.
Stay loyal, stay lit
Lamar then thanked the crowd for helping to make “DAMN.” become a double platinum record, acknowledging his fans’ unrelenting loyalty. He went on to “test” the crowd’s loyalty by playing some of his throwback tracks.
“Pour up, drank… Head shot, drank!” the crowd shouted as Lamar performed the popular song “Swimming Pools” off the 2012 album “good kid, m.A.A.d. City.”
The audience continued to prove allegiance as they sang along to his “Backseat Freestyle,” which is also off the 2012 record, and pokes fun at his past life of self-indulgence and naiveté.
To wrap up the loyal vibes, Lamar brought it back around to his most recent release with the smash hit “LOYALTY.,” which features our favorite bad girl Rihanna.
Kung Fu Kenny somehow pulled a ninja trick and left the stage to perform “LUST.” inside of a box-shaped structure above the crowd. Lights draped the outsides of the cubic cage and flickered off of the artist’s face as his words twisted the audience into a daze.
“I need some water!” the crowd echoed.
Intensity levels amplified as the crowd kept their spirits high and rapped along to classic songs like “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “Alright.”
And not once did that infinite energy leave the arena as Lamar went on to share more songs off the “DAMN.” album.
The venue’s floor rumbled with bodies bouncing up and down as Lamar belted out lyrics from “HUMBLE.” This was the first hit single off of the 2017 album—with memorable lyrics that call out the superficial realities of humanity and a beat that can make you bop your head until your neck is sore.
There’s really only one way to sum up the evening… DAMN.