“I’ve got a story to tell” – Kendrick Lamar’s the Big Steppers tour

Via the O2 Twitter

Piano chords play throughout the stadium and disarray emanates from the audience. “The voice of yours truly” vibrates throughout the stadium and the crowd goes into uproar. The Big Steppers stand at his side, their stare and stand still making this dream like experience very much a reality.  

“What is a bitch in a mini skirt? A man in his feelings with bitter nerve?” K.Dot’s introduction to the stage is minimal and abrupt, but it serves his purpose. Even the sheer presence of his back causes individuals to go into a dishevel. The beat picks up, the angle changes and that is when the audience is able to get a clearer view of Kendrick Lamar. Revealing King Kenny, he dorns a black suit and a glitter glove, in similar fashion to Micheal Jackson. He sits behind a piano rapping the lines of “United in Grief”, alongside his companion, an attached puppet similar in resemblance.  

The stage goes black. There is silence. And the crowd waits in anticipation. 

Previously, opening acts Tanna Leone and Grammy award winning cousin, Baby Keem adorned the stage, setting the mood for Kendrick Lamar’s esteemed show. With Tanna Leone emerging, with trivial and little knowledge known about him, he is somehow able to make a statement with added graphics and lighting. Performing songs such as “Lucky”, “Here We Go Again” and “With The Villains”, his presence is made deadly, with the demanding ambience of characterial illusions and hallucinations of substance intoxication. For those that don’t know his songs, his stage presence is what makes his set – tolerable. 

Stuttering lights flashes throughout the stadium to accomadate and all I can think of is whether they should have issued a warning for those that are photosensitive, especially those with epilepsy. You would think that the lighting and visuals is what makes up for the lackluster of a show. What most anticipated for, was the 15-minute interval that followed after the performance. 

Soon after, Baby Keem follows and its obvious, in comparison to Tanna Leone, that he is a popular fan favorite. Contrasting Leone’s performance, the audience anticipates Keem’s as they discuss amongst themselves about the awaited entrance of the performer. “Lil bitch, shut the fuck up, tell your best friend, shut the fuck up, ayy.” It’s clear that Baby Keem’s music speaks for itself. The audience vibes and sings along and he is assisted with simple yet intriguing visuals. Basic black and white with added apparitions. 

See, here’s the difference between the two, whilst Leone uses visuals, graphics and lighting to make up for his performance, Keem uses visual presentation to assist his musical delivery. The way that he moved, dressed and even looked at the audience was able to stir up an entirely completely different reaction and atmosphere to Leone’s. 

 After electrifying performances from Tanna Leone and Grammy award winning cousin, Baby Keem, Kendrick Lamar’s sudden yet awaited appearance is finally met. It only took £95, 173 days, two trains and 2 and a half hours of waiting – but the moment is finally here. 

The song starts up again in upbeat. The lights flash. And my nightmare truly begins

Lamar stands before us, the beat to “United in Grief” picks up again as he raps the lyrics. Fireworks start and smoke emerges as he slowly transititions into “N95”. 

Now you may question, how did a concert that I spent so much money on, long awaited for and travelled so far for suddenly turn into a nightmare? One answer: standing tickets. 

Yes, Lamar’s performance was stunning. Nothing was expected less from the artist and he even exceeded expectations. Visually and audibly, it was done exceptionally well. He had a story to tell and a story was told. Along with popular songs such as “Swimming Pools (Drank)”, “Humble” and “Worldwide Steppers”, King Kenny usually had a set design to coincide with the different meanings of his songs. He had a large silhouette that would often depict the visual representations of his lyrics. There would usually be birds, trees, planes and often his silhouette as he performed. At one point, in “Count Me Out”, the silhouette displayed arrows in Kendrick’s back as he rapped about internal struggle: “Even my strong points couldn’t survive if I didn’t learn to love myself, forgive myself a hundred times.” 

The dancers were also an essential part of the show, with either woman and men dressed in white and black suits to dance vigorously to songs such as “HUMBLE” or women dressed in white flowing dresses to dance gracefully to “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe Remix”. 

Unfortunately, with as much time and effort as Kendrick and others have spent to bring an experience to fans, many individuals, including myself, were not able to immerse ourselves in it – as a result of overcrowding. 

Before the show had even started two people fell sick and another had fainted. Immediately, this had brought concern, due to the outcome of notorious concerts for their lack of care – AstroWorld had resulted in the deaths of 9 people. Many a times, I could not see – which in turn proceeded into using my phone as a microscope – and I was often squished to the point were reaching inside of my handbag, was deemed impossible. Frequently I found myself breathing in and out to prevent panic attacks. 

The worst of all was the attempted mosh pits. Pay attention to the word “attempted”. Due to overcrowding, there was no space to even create one. Everyone just jumped where they were and if you didn’t jump as well – you were most likely to get trampled on. 

 The disappointment lies in paying for expensive tickets and barely getting an experience out of it. I would have been much better with getting seats closer to the stage than standing – and this is where concert organisers should pay attention. Those that pay for standing tickets should be able to enjoy themselves, rather than worrying about being trampled on or simple things such as being able to see. Care should be taken when considering these issues, in order to accommodate to all fans for the best concert experience. 

On the way home, I also asked my friend – Ariana Rickards, 20, who I went to the concert with, for insight into her own personal experience:

“It’s like, why did I even bother waiting all that time to desperately find tickets?” She then pulled out a zoot, swiftly lighting it with her lighter. It was clear that she was stressed and annoyed.

“I would have been better off getting seats or even not buying a ticket at all. Because it’s irritating as fuck that I payed all that money and I couldn’t even see the artist unless I was using my camera on my phone, like forreal?”

“And then also – I’m squished. I felt like sardines in a can. It was way too overcrowded. When it’s getting to the point where people are panicking, fainting and having anxiety attacks, it’s obvious that there’s a problem here. I don’t think the organisers took into account of the amount of people there, they just wanted to sell out. It’s truly sad, because the show was actually so good, Kendrick is a great performer but I wasn’t really able to fully indulge and enjoy the experience.”

Despite this hiccup, Kendrick was not only able to provide a rap show, but theatre, with his lyrics, dancers and set coming together to provide fans with an overall story. Just a reminder next time – don’t get standing tickets. 

Watch below for a recap of the show:

Writing: Shakira Bruce-Abubakar | Subbing: Kiefer Jones

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