Kendrick Lamar closes the inaugural Auckland City Limits while homegrown acts steal the show

Kendrick Lamar is without a doubt one of the most bankable artists in the world right now, so it was only right that Live Nation, C3 Presents, and locals CRS Presents lock in the Compton emcee for a headline slot at the inaugural Auckland City Limits. Taking the Spark One stage right after co-headliners The National closed Spark Two, Kendrick delivered a mix of his second and third albums, Good Kid, m.A.A.d City and To Pimp a Butterfly respectively, with a mix of furious live energy and a more calm, artistic sense for pure poetry and harmony with the free-jazz which defined TPAB, all strung together nicely despite some technical issues; but he was far from the only stand-out of the day.

Not as bombastic as the ill-fated Big Day Out or as indie-focused as Laneway Festival, ACL fell into a happy medium, perfectly sized for Western Springs Stadium with just enough non-music activities to keep punters busy. ACL Eats featured a curated line-up of some of the city’s best food outlets; an artisan produce market highlighted local independents with organic coffee, waffles, ice cream, chocolate, and more; Samsung delivered a virtual reality crowd experience without actually putting you in the middle of all those sweaty, heaving bodies; boutique designers set up fashion stalls; artists put forth various installations to liven up the field; the pint-sized Golden Dawn stage showcased some of the more stripped-back and left-field performances of the day; and Auckland Kiddie Limits provided just over five hours of entertainment for the few parents who brought their young ones along.

Early day highlights included the synth-driven soul of Auckland local Maala, whose voice was so powerful it was heard from across the field, Gang of Youths who put on a stunning set of raw, powerful rock, and Kamasi Washington, who along with his band gave an incredibly complex set and even brought out his father, Rickey Washington, for an epic sax solo.

Call it a territorial thing, but it seemed like not even Kendrick and The National could outshine the big-name NZ acts who were keen to stamp themselves firmly on the first ever Auckland City Limits. Broods, The Naked & Famous and Fat Freddy’s Drop especially were given heroes welcomes as they all went through their adored catalogues, the former two even debuting new material.

Stay tuned to the AU for our full review and highlights later this week.

The National Set List

Sea of Love
Don’t Swallow the Cap
I Should Live in Salt
Bloodbuzz Ohio
Afraid of Everyone
Squalor Victoria
I Need my Girl
This is the Last Time
Slow Show
Pink Rabbits
Fake Empire
Mr November
Terrible Love

Kendrick Lamar Set List

For Free (Interlude)
Wesley’s Theory
Backstreet Freestyle
m.A.A.d City (second half)
The Art of Peer Pressure (second half)
Swimming Pools (Drank)
These Walls
For Sale? (Interlude)
Hood Politics/Complexion (A Zulu Loves)
Bitch, Don’t Kill my Vibe (Remix)
Money Trees
m.A.A.d City (first half)
King Kunta
Momma (Remix)

Note: headline image taken within the first hour of the festival.


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Chris Singh

Chris Singh is an Editor-At-Large at the AU review, loves writing about travel and hospitality, and is partial to a perfectly textured octopus. You can reach him on Instagram: @chrisdsingh.