“What the (expletive) am I doing in Iowa?” questioned Kendrick Lamar in the moments following his opening song as he stood before a sold out crowd at the Iowa Memorial Union on the campus of the University of Iowa Monday night. But by the time the undisputed best new artist to join the rap game in 2012 walked off the stage at the end of the night, he may have been more inclined to think twice before questioning the Hawkeye state.
According to Lamar, the crowd present in Iowa City was “the loudest of the whole tour,” which was on its final stop Monday night. This claim is unsurprising to anyone who has played this area before though, as music fans living in eastern Iowa continue to prove it is truly a cultural hub for well-appreciated art.
There was undeniable energy in the IMU Monday night, and why wouldn’t there have been? I would argue this was one of the most high profile shows ever put on in SCOPE Productions’ history, considering the magnitude of Lamar’s popularity and the success of his 2012 major label debut “good id, m.A.A.d. City.” Despite being picked by indie music publication Pitchfork as the album of the year, which would ultimately lead to the countless hipster sheep who blindly follow what the web tells them talking about it as being the greatest rap album of the decade, Lamar proved Monday night to live up to both critical and popular success. And even when his inescapable hit “Swimming Pools (Drank)”, a song questioning the nature and evils of alcoholism, powered through the venue with frat brothers jumping joyously and mistaking the point of the track, the energy was undeniable, and as Lamar said himself, when he puts on a show its more of a party than it is a concert.
Juxtaposing the analytical depth of his record with the free atmosphere Monday night made for a near perfect combination. Even with an unusual long average time between songs, Lamar made sure to cover all of the hits, focusing primarily on tracks from his latest release. As was seen last week at Mac Miller, Lamar often repeated lyrics from his songs a cappella before lowering the microphone and letting the crowd finish the line. Voices rang especially loud on his verse from A$AP Rocky’s “F**kin’ Problems”, “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,” and the show closer “m.A.A.d city.” All things considered, it was a great conclusion to a fabulous spring semester of live music in Iowa City.