Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar headlined Saturday (October 8) at weekend two of Austin City Limits Festival, drawing a huge crowd to the Samsung Stage with his live band, effortless flow and banging tunes. Here are seven moments we won’t forget in a hurry.
1. 'Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe':
The whole of the set's first half had been building to this point. Kendrick had brought out two tracks from this year's supposed album of offcuts, 'untitled. unmastered', and a load of banging 'good kid, m.A.A.d city' tunes like 'Backseat Freestyle' and 'Swimming Pools (Drank)'. Schoolboy Q had even joined Kendrick onstage for 'That Part', but it wasn't until 'Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe' came round that the set reached its first high-point, sending ripples across the enormous crowd.
2. The live band killing it on 'King Kunta':
On one of Kendrick's most undeniable tunes, 'King Kunta', his live band were especially flawless. They bolstered every key lyric with perfectly timed blasts of bass, keys and drums. You just don't get that effect from a backing track.
3. 'm.A.A.d City' jumping:
Across his 90 minutes, Kendrick's instructions were few – but he was always obeyed by the crowd. On 'm.A.A.d City', from 2012's 'good kid, m.A.A.d city', he told everyone to jump after the fourth set of 'God's. Everyone did and it was awesome.
4. When he stopped to take it all in:
Kendrick left a bit of breathing space between several of his songs, but the best instance of it was about one hour in. Immediately after playing the most upbeat track of 2015's 'To Pimp A Butterfly' – 'i' – Kendrick stopped for a full 30 seconds to survey his kingdom. He didn't need to say anything: we all knew what it meant.
5. Kendrick's speech about the importance of lyricism:
Following Kendrick's long pause after 'i', Kendrick resolved to command the audience's attention further, explaining to us the importance of lyrics to engaging with us personally. Then he bossed the lyric-crammed 'For Free' – a track of awesome spoken word from 'To Pimp A Butterfly' – and we were hanging on his every word.
Kendrick's first encore was his anthem 'Alright', which since its release has gained a new significance as a chant used at Black Lives Matter protests. As it goes down, glowsticks are being hurled around the crowd. Everyone is bouncing and chanting along, but Kendrick pulls the track back halfway through to say, "I think last week might have been the loudest week, I don't know." Then everyone properly goes for it.
7. When he said he’d be back and he was:
After the encore of 'Alright', Kendrick meaningfully said "Remember these words: I will be back", then left the stage, only to return again two minutes later to play 'Section.80' track 'A.D.H.D.' The reason that didn't feel like a cheap trick was partially because 'A.D.H.D.' is a banger, but also because it felt like he really was signalling something else – and if that's new music next year, everyone here is totally on board.