Just one month ago, Kendrick Lamar put on an epic performance with his very first headlining show at the Air Canada Centre, and now he’s brought his DAMN Tour back to Toronto for a second show! He’s had one hell of a year, further solidifying his spot among Hip-Hop’s elite superstars with his third major-label album DAMN, which is dominating the Billboard charts and is sure to make waves at all the award shows. This coinciding tour is also looking like the biggest tour of K-Dot’s career, pushing him to that stadium status not many artists can achieve.
The first Toronto show on this tour sold out in minutes, making it difficult for large groups of friends to all get seats together, and so we had to come back for the second show just to have the squad with us. During this second leg of The DAMN Tour, D.R.A.M. would still be the first opening artist, but Travis Scott would be replaced with YG as the second opener. Much like Travis Scott, I’ve only heard a handful of songs by YG and can’t say I’m a huge fan of his, but he’s built a respectable fan base in recent years with his brand of gangsta rap.
We found our seats in the upper bowl just as D.R.A.M. was getting on stage. His set was real similar to last time, with a half hour of funk flavoured dance tracks. The building was more filled than the last show he performed here, and the crowd had enough energy for D.R.A.M. to even jump down from the stage and sing amongst the people at one point. He definitely had more fans in the building this time, as the crowd even knew some of his lyrics to sing along to. After getting the crowd warmed up, it was time for YG to hit the stage.
YG didn’t quite get the building shaking like when Travis Scott opened for Kendrick, but he still got the crowd moving with his bouncy club tracks. He performed hits like “My Nigga” and his collaboration with Kendrick Lamar, “Really Be (Smokin N Drinkin),” although K-Dot didn’t come out to perform his guest verse. The performance itself was alright, as YG shouted lyrics back and forth with a hypeman and often rapped over his own vocal recordings, but the beats were fun to move to. There was a video interlude mid way through his set, and the party got even more live when he returned.
While this big-budget tour gave Travis Scott a mechanical bird to fly over the crowd on as he rapped, YG used his budget to turn the stage into a makeshift strip club during the video interlude, complete with a couch, stripper pole, and of course pole dancers. The ladies did some pole dancing and had themselves a twerking contest as YG continued with his club hits. YG also engaged the crowd, jumping down to rap a verse in the middle of the floor, and even running up into the stands and starting a mosh pit in the middle of a row.
Eventually they cleared the stage and made way for a Donald Trump imposter, who cracked some jokes referencing the Mexican wall and the “grab ’em by the pussy” comment. This of course led to YG chasing the fake Donald off stage and closing out his set with the most relevant song of his career, “FDT (Fuck Donald Trump).” The crowd had a fun time chanting along to the chorus, which is sure to be a nationwide anthem until the U.S. gets a new president. By the end of the song, the crowd was effectively pumped up for the headliner, Kendrick Lamar.
Kendrick Lamar’s set was almost exactly the same as the last time he performed (the only change being the removal of “Untitled 02” from the set list), but it was just as fun to see a second time. Being in the upper bowl this time, we had a better vantage point to see some of the smaller details missed at the first show. While we didn’t have a clear view of the video screens behind Kendrick, we got to see him appear from under the stage in the middle of the smoke before setting things off with “DNA.” We also had a view of his live band hidden off to the side of the stage. There was a better perspective of how much space on stage Kendrick had to cover and dominate by himself (or sometimes with his sword-wielding ninja choreographers).
The packed Air Canada Centre had just as much energy as the last show, although Kendrick at one point said they brought 15x more energy than the last crowd after the entire building rapped along to the hit single “Humble.” From the upper level you could see all the cell phones lit up during the mellow songs like “Pride,” “Love” and “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe.” You could also hear the entire arena sing along to his hits, whether off of his classic good kid, m.A.A.d city album or the new DAMN album. With the energy the crowd gave him, you could tell Kendrick genuinely enjoyed performing his songs, and it was a fun night for everyone.
For a more detailed review of the entire set list, check out my review of the first show here.
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