On November 2nd, 2015, one of the last few stops of the short and sweet 1st Annual Kunta’s Groove Sessions took place at Terminal 5 in New York City. After an initial announcement for a show at the very intimate Webter Hall, ticket mishaps and outraged fans caused for the move to a slightly bigger, yet still small show for–as Kendrick put it many times that night–his “core, day one fans.”
The show began with Lamar’s TDE counterpart Jay Rock, fresh of the release of his new album 90059, using his short 30 minutes of stage time to perform both new hits and old classics. The very live sea of fans was extremely responsive to new songs like “Easy Bake” and “Vice City,” which were both unfortunately performed without Kendrick. Everybody seemed to be in agreement that Rock’s set should have lasted longer, though he made the most of it and gave an energetic, precise performance.
After almost an hour of anticipation following Jay Rock’s exit, Kendrick finally took the stage. One of my favorite things in the world is a rap concert with a live band, which Kendrick has mastered so well. His band, “the Wesley Theory” was the epitome of groovy, enhancing the psychedelic beats from To Pimp A Butterfly by so perfectly bringing them to life in the intimate live setting. K.Dot switched between playing tunes from his latest album to bringing back some older ones from Good Kid, m.A.A.d City, keeping the rambunctious crowd on their toes all night long. It was almost 2 hours of non-stop guitar and drum solos, acapella rapping, and crowd interactions to boot.
Having seen Kendrick a few times throughout the years, I can say that his live show has improved exponentially each time, with this show being complete perfection. It was obvious–even without him saying it many times–that he was ecstatic to be back performing for such a small crowd of true fans, and he utilized every minute of stage time. Lamar even stated, like he has at other shows throughout this tour, that this might be the only time he ever performs his masterpiece To Pimp A Butterly live, making the performance even more special.
After beautifully performing everything from “Wesley’s Theory” to “Hood Politics” to “Mortal Man,” the crowd still wanted more after Kendrick left the stage. Being the obvious pick for an encore song, someone started a “we gon be alright!” chant that lasted what seemed like 10 minutes. After Lamar came back out, he even led the chant and guided the crowd to yell louder and whisper at his command. This was the last hurrah to one of the most energetic and most wonderfully composed concerts I have ever attended.