Saturday Night: Kendrick Lamar at House of Blues
There have been many monumental moments in House of Blues' rap history. There was Jay-Z's show in 2008 that christened the venue and kickstarted its now four-year run as one of Houston's eminent music halls, while Trae Tha Truth's Street King show in June 2011 ranks as the possible peak of a local artist dominating one stage.
Yet Kendrick Lamar might have outdone them all.
Vocally a bit drained after already performing for more than an hour down the road at Warehouse Live, the 25-year-old Compton MC did his best Adrian Peterson impersonation in front of a more than swollen crowd as part of ScoreMore Shows' "#2Shows1Night" campaign that was not only a success, but marked a massive tipping point in both ScoreMore's work ethic and Lamar's ever-increasing popularity.
I've made the trek through the Houston Pavilions on numerous occasions. Never have I seen a scene that resembled what occurred around 9:40 p.m., near the upstairs entrance to HOB's large stage.
There's such a thing as a line snaking around a building -- plenty of people have said it snaked around Warehouse twice -- but have you seen a line that swallowed up two floors and stretched from end to end? That's Lamar's newfound drawing power, the ability to sell out a quickly announced second concert that also featured siren Jhené Aiko.
If DJ Mr. Rogers is warming you up for a show, as he did both times Saturday, be prepared for a few things -- namely dropping random rock tracks from MTV's "Actually Played Videos" era into the middle of his eclectic hip-hop set that stretched from Texas to Cali to old school.
Saturday he gave us Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and constant shoutouts that mixed humblebragging with dashes of singularity. He introduced the lovely Aiko, who by the moment she hit the stage gave every male in attendance the right to swoon over her. Some ladies too.
A sprite in size but vocally something etched out of Greek writings, Aiko doesn't floor people with a gigantic voice but rather draws them in with her lingering, swaying approach. On "Higher," she cooed about being from California, land of the best weed (we're not fighting her on it), twisted emotions on "My Mine" and "3:16," and gave us some T-shirt material with "Let me finish drinking my Hennessy and apple juice."
Thugs drink Hennessy and apple juice out of a sippy cup, I imagine.
During the close of her set, Aiko proudly announced her kinship to Def Jam, performing "What A Life" and a stirring cover of Tupac's "Keep Ya Head Up," then closing with a fan-requested "Stranger." She then jokingly asked said fan for his number; either he fainted or his friends punched him in a jealous rage. It was almost like a woman singing us into a whirlwind of rap emotion: We knew it was coming, yet invited it like some silly West Coast music gluttons.
A slow "Kendrick" chant trailed the lips of the faithful, a crowd packed to the point where slight elbow movements probably would result in at least two fights and plenty of weaving amongst the usual assortment of dropped plastic cups, spilled liquor and beer cans. Once Lamar's engineer and tour DJ Mixed By Ali cued up "Westside, Right On Time," time froze for a moment. Then King Kendrick arrived, and arguably the loudest roar I've ever been witness to at House of Blues emitted from those in attendance.