Kendrick Lamar, FKA Twigs, Schoolboy Q, Danny Brown, Kelala bring down Union Park
Pusha T managed to steamroll through, for reasons unknown, what would be a very abbreviated set. The sun-beaten and frenzied crowd yelled along to classic verses like ‘Millions’ and ‘New God Flow’, before a sweaty Pusha; murdered out in a Stussy tee, Nike technical fleece sweats, and Nike Lunarglide 6’s, abruptly left stage as quickly as he had appeared. Not before throwing the gauntlet down and proclaiming himself the ‘best rapper living’, and he knows whose alive.
Kelala swept the crowd at the Blue Stage off its collective feet by sensually crooning the late afternoon away. She also neglected to guaranty me entry into her super exclusive post pitchfork party. Still salty.
No one had a more turnt set than Danny Brown through the entire weekend. No one. He also seems to be following some sort of hygienic routine of sorts these days. Sell out.
The Bae was in rare form following her headlining gig at the Bottom Lounge. FKA Twigs’ crowd control and stage presence was unprecedented. There was hardly any audible chatter as she scolded a stage manager, fielded marriage proposals, and requests to dance.
Earl Sweatshirt was kind enough to pepper his set with lessons on Chicago’s rich meat-packing history. The stage’s sound system, unfortunately, couldn’t handle the bass in ‘Orange Juice’. Bummer.
SchoolBoy Q. Turnt. He may have even coifed his beard puff for the occasion. Also, I scored an errantly thrown floral bucket hat. Cool.
A run in with law enforcement caused me to miss Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 PMF performance, Lady Gaga was there for no reason.The album released on the heels of that performance made K Dot a household name in the U.S.
I awaited his set with more anxiety than I had for any of the other performers that weekend. Armed only with reviews of his live show and my opinion of his iTunes live performance, I watched in amazement at the beautifully simple visuals that framed band. By the way, he was the only rapper to play with live instrumentation. Drawing out every song into a full on jam, Kendrick had the crowd wrapped around his little finger. There was hardly a dry eye in sight, either because of intense emotion or boredom as he figuratively beat the audience into submission and had everyone sing ‘Promise that you will sing about me.’ The somber mood continued on into a monologue about the oft neglected dangerous living conditions of Southern Los Angeles and Chicago. Followed by a fairly lengthy sermon from Pastor Kendrick. Unfortunately, the live version of most of his tracks simply do not pack the punch of the immaculately produced recorded music. Maybe if Kendrick adopts a fitness routine similar to that of Beyonce, then that will change. Overall I give his a B+, because fuck Macklemore.
Photography by Allen Johnson