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ACL Fest scene report: King Kendrick rules again

Deborah Sengupta

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 12, 2013

We’ve already written about how Kendrick Lamar killed his set last week and that the buzz around his set was bigger than the stage he was booked on, but it’s worth mentioning again. The insane sea of people pouring toward the Honda stage for Lamar’s 7 p.m. set was a sight to behold, by far the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen at a side stage. The crowd stretched back through the width of the Ladybird Lake stage and down the field past the beer garden. Because the Ladybird stage is set on a hill, it was possible to stand fairly far back and still have a decent view of the stage, but when Bright Light Social Hour kicked in on the Austin Ventures stage and the Mavericks in the tent there was significant sound bleed for the outer edges of the crowd.

As for Lamar himself, once again he was on fire, offering live band renditions of most of the bangers from his 2013 masterpiece “good kid/m.A.A.d City.”

Strikingly, Lamar proved himself to be a master of crowd dynamics. During an extended version of “m.A.A.d city” he whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

” This is your moment right now,” he said inviting everyone to let go of the aspects of their lives that were troubling them. Halfway through the song he drew the moment out in a lengthy breakdown, asking everyone to focus on the word energy. “Catch your breath, take a sip of water, rejuvenate, because I’m going to need your energy.”

Finally he made the call to the audience, “Lose Yourself.” Much mind losing ensued.

Later, he commanded everyone to put their cell phone lights in the air, then went on to explain that the sea of lights that filled the field represented everything that each one of us has been shooting for. As an intro to “Swimming Pools (Drank)” he proposed a toast to all of our prosperity and urged us all to drink from the virtual bottle he was passing around.

Oddly, his set began five minutes early and he left the stage around 7:45 p.m. He returned for an encore, a loose jam that ended with four words, “I will be back.”

Austin, no doubt, will be waiting.