I recently had a shocking experience at a concert. I’ve been to many, and they vary wildly in quality, but shocking is not a term I use lightly. A great show is a great thing for a reason: there’s a lot of boring and even awful music out there. Every genre is guilty of being terrible for reasons of talentlessness and avarice and cronyism and even sheer accident. I don’t usually mean to single out a particular genre in general, but to explain this shocking show it suffices to compare two critically acclaimed rap albums: October 2014’s Run the Jewels 2 by supergroup Run the Jewels [El-P and Killer Mike] and March 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar. This comparison sets up the context for a review of a Kendrick Lamar show.
The 11th annual Sasquatch music festival happened Memorial Day weekend at the Gorge Amphitheatre near the hilariously named city of George, Washington. It was four days of sun, dirt, dramatic daily temperature swings, tens of thousands of total strangers variously drunk or high or on vast quantities of controlled substances — or, as is more likely, an increasingly unplanned combination of all three — all sharing portable toilets and farmland for camping. All this was done to bring to pass a music festival at one of the most scenic venues in the world, the likes of which haven’t been seen since last year.