Hall Of Shame: We Only Play 2012 Lamar Sir
  • THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2015

  • Posted by: Jason Greenspan

This past Memorial Day Weekend -- that holy bastion of bacchanalian beginning-of-summer festivities -- the Sasquatch! Music Festival went down at Washington's ridiculously picturesque Gorge Amphitheater. This year marked the event's best lineup since its inception in 2002, and reviews have been overwhelmingly positive so far. In attendance was Compton's crown prince, Kendrick Lamar, closing out the prestigious main stage on the final day for thousands of exhaustedly smelly-yet-eager fans. The onlookers' excitement, however, turned to surprised disappointment when the rapper's set ended, having included only one song from his highly regarded latest album, To Pimp a Butterfly. I wasn't at the festival myself, but I was baffled when news of this occurrence reached my ears. This was Kendrick's first performance since the release of TPAB, and I would have expected him to blast audiences with new material until they started vomiting uncontrollably -- at least, that's what most artists do. I can only speculate about the reasons for the curious omission, so until I get some answers, Mr. Lamar will be joining the other unfortunate inductees into Baeble's Hall Of Shame.

The most likely explanation for the strictly 2012 Kendrick setlist is that the artist was trying to flip the script. After all, we live in an entertainment climate that demands constant shock and awe. Fans don't like knowing what to expect, and maybe Kendrick figured that the best way to satisfy them would be to not give them what they think they want. A bold move, but ultimately misguided. And what if this sparks an industry-wide paradigm shift after which musicians play nothing but old material at shows? This would be fantastic for lovers of 80's Joel, but supremely upsetting for most others.

I can just imagine the sinking in the Sasquatch! audience's hearts as the set continued on sans "King Kunta" or "Institutionalized." By the final track, they must have been praying for/expecting a seven song encore of solely TPAB bangers. This was truly a Game of Thrones-esque betrayal, in which the newly crowned king sat on the throne high above his adoring subjects and mercilessly deprived them of bread.

To be fair, he did play "Alright," the plainest track off of the new album and the one that sounds the most like it could have been on good kid m.A.A.d city. Kendrick gets an A-plus for continuity, and a D for being a dick. It's the timeless cliche -- musician blows up and tries desperately to escape the material that made them famous -- flipped upside down. And he even played his biggest 'oldie' hit, "m.A.A.d city," over three times [Ed. Note: I'mma let you finish, Jason, but K.Dot's biggest oldie hit has to be "Swimming Pools," right?], enhancing the insanity of the whole situation. Is everything o.k., Kendrick? Do you need someone to talk to? I understand that some of your funkier new tracks would be tough to reproduce live, but give me something here, man.

He better not try this shit with me, however. I'll be attending his set at Bonnaroo this year, and if I don't get at least four tracks off of To Pimp a Butterfly, I swear I'll write my congressman about it.

Listen to "The Blacker The Berry" below and enjoy what the Sasquatch! audience regrettably missed out on.

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