Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN Tour

(Originally Published on South Florida Insider)

Compton’s Golden Child Humbles Hysterical Heat Arena – Review of Kendrick Lamar DAMN Tour at American Airlines Arena in Miami Beach, FL

Story by: Gleb Barabanov

The final night of Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. Tour finally made its way to sunny Miami Beach over this Labor Day weekend, and he couldn’t have picked a better city to bid his tour farewell. Bringing along an incredible production, which would not have been out of place at a Nine Inch Nails show, the Compton Wunkderkind performed to a nearly sold out arena full of screaming fans. From young kids going to what was clearly their first show, to 60 year old couples going on a date night (like the adorable pair that sat next to us), the show brought together people of all varieties to the event, including Alicia Keys, who I spotted near the sound board rocking out.

Kendrick brought along two of his good pals, D.R.A.M. and YG on the tour, and they each warmed up the crowd before the main event began. D.R.A.M., clad in gold-rimmed glasses, opened his time one stage with a Lil Uzi Vert song, and played his songs Cha ChaCash Machine, and Broccoli, which received significant airplay on the radio this summer. During the last song, he climbed into the crowd to interact with some of the fans, and ran through the floor of the arena while concertgoers rushed to take pictures.

YG brought out another rapper for his set, and began his set flanked by an enormous LED screen, which displayed back-up visuals for his songs. Dressed in a Miami-appropriate Hawaiian shirt, the singer plowed through hits My Hitta, I Just Wanna Party and Don’t Tell Em. Toward the end of the show, YG brought out a roadie dressed as a caricature of Donald Trump, and to much applause from the crowd began his final song F*** Donald Trump, soon after which began the agonizing wait for the real show to begin.

After what felt like an eternity spent watching the giant DAMN adorned sheet covering the stage setup, the cover parted and a giant screen began to play an intro video. Stylized as an old school Kung-Fu movie, the video introduced Kendrick as a warrior looking for “the glow” and being trained by an old sensei, and as the video faded out Kendrick appeared on stage with a flurry of pyrotechnics and fireworks behind him and burst into his first song of the night, DNA. The stage featured an incredibly impressive setup, with a giant projected screen mounted above the stage, tilted downwards at the far end so as to be visible to the audience, in addition to an LED screen and a host of pillars with lighting flanking the performer. Costumed performers even appeared on stage in between some songs, dressed as ninjas and carrying out choreographed combat on stage while Kendrick caught his breath in between songs.

Unlike the show he played at Miami’s Rolling Loud Fest earlier this year, where he only played a few songs from his newest album, this time the set-list was dominated by the new material, with K-Dot performing an impressive nine songs from DAMN. He played ELEMENT, King Kunta, YAH before launching into rousing cover versions of the songs Mask Off and Collard Greens, tunes for which he was a guest performer on in the studio. He took a minute to thank all his old school fans for sticking with him and making all this possible and then performed classics Swimming Pools (Drank) and Backseat Freestyle. After a few more new songs, as well as fan favorites Money Trees and m.A.A.d. city, a small intermission occurred and another episode of the video they played during the intro was shown while two more ninjas appeared to battle it out. The break turned out to be a costume change as a red-clad Kendrick appeared in the middle of the arena, on a rising pillar covered with strings of light. He performed a couple of songs on the riser in the center before returning to the stage and playing Alright, the entire arena chanting along to the chorus. All this was leading up to the song of the night, Humble, of which Kendrick played the first few lines and let the stadium start yelling the rest of. The fans did not disappoint, with their resounding cacophony able to be heard throughout the arena. He then started the song over, bringing out YG and D.R.A.M. to sing along with him, and disappeared off stage while the audience chanted for one more. Of course, he appeased the masses and played GOD as his encore, much to the joy of the fans tightly packed in the arena.

This was quite possibly the best rap show that I have seen, and easily one of the best shows that I’ve seen production wise over all. I’m glad to see that having elaborate stage shows that don’t just focus on the musician isn’t just something that’s limited to rock n’ roll shows. I’m also excited to see what the ever-busy Kendrick Lamar is going to cook up next, but whatever it is I’m sure it will not disappoint.