Kendrick Lamar at V Festival 2013 review

'with winding wordplay Lamar delivers a seismic set'

Photographer:Robert Kelly

Chris Eustace - 19 August 2013

There's a bottle fight going on as we arrive at the 4Music Stage, surely the crowd aren't going to use all their energy before hip-hop's hottest MC of the moment even begins? Even if they have, Kendrick isn't accepting anyone just standing there. Demanding the crowd bounce, and playing the sides of the stage off against each other constantly, he may be fairly new to the festival game, with breakthrough album 'Good Kid, M.A.A.D City' emerging last year, but he's as confident as a veteran, seemingly with all the tricks of the trade at his disposal already.

A thrillingly abrasive 'Backseat Freestyle' is deployed early on, with his remix of A$AP Rocky's 'Fuckin' Problems' following close behind. It's 'Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe' that really ignites things though, it's hazy beginnings allowing everyone to sway along before arms are outstretched as the pace picks up. "Who wants to come back to Compton with me?" Lamar asks, and does his best to take us there, but the "weed, women, weather" shopping list of 'The Recipe' is sadly going to remain incomplete in a park in Chelmsford, and we're back to reality.

Asking how many here know his latest album is answered very quickly by the reaction to the winding wordplay of 'Money Trees', although the quandary of "Halle Berry, or Hallelujah?" is sadly still unanswered. A brutal 'M.A.A.D City' brings circle pits, encouraged to "get crazier" as Kendrick conducts them from the stage. As pints fly around, you're thinking everyone should've saved them to hold aloft for the "Drank!" refrain of a seismic 'Swimming Pools'. Everyone shouts along instead, seemingly oblivious to the rest of the lyrics, which offer a bit more of a cautionary tale, but such things can be adapted when it's festival time. One turbo-speed acapella verse (sadly not *that* one that set the internet alight last week) later and he's out of here, but not before promising that "thanks to your energy, I will be back!" Don't doubt it.

Check out our full V Festival 2013 coverage here.

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