The first Day N Vegas festival took place in 2019, and it was the last time Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar performed before the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic set in and forever changed the world. Therefore, it’s only fitting that his only concert of 2021 is at the second Day N Vegas Festival two years later. At the beginning of his set, he said: Three hundred sixty-five days / Times two / Since I seen you. This rhyme turned into a chant and received a roaring response from the crowd.
Lamar used the opportunity to take a victory lap of the past decade. He performed cuts from each of his albums in the order they dropped. And before each L.P., there were a few lines of text on a screen behind him. They described his thoughts on each particular one. For example, Good Kid, M.A.D.D. City said “real stories,” and Damn was about his “relationship with fame and fortune.”
As Kendrick broke the show into sections, representative of his four albums, Lamar had several different dance crews. These included men in dark red suits, ballerinas, and a group of children. And in addition to the dancers, the sets also had visual accompaniments. There were shots of everyday life in Compton for “Money Trees,” a live video recreation of the Damn album cover for “D.N.A.”
There was no live band in sight, but they were likely still there as the set added additional instrumentation to various numbers. “King Kunta” sounded extra funky, “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” got a dope horn outro, and the bridge for “Loyalty” got injected with some 70’s soul.
He brought out his cousin, Baby Keem, for their “Family Ties” and “Range Brothers” collaborations to close out the evening. And then, to finish a 90-minute set, he performed “Love” and “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst.”
While there was no mention or performance of new material, it is clear that the demand for Lamar’s return is and will remain strong until he drops. That excitement, coupled with the overwhelmingly positive response to Lamar’s existing catalog, is proof that he has rightfully earned his spot as one of the performers at 2022’s Super Bowl Halftime Show. It will honor the legacy of his mentor, Dr. Dre, and cement his status as an icon in his own right.