On the third day of Coachella there are only scant vestiges of the optimism and innocence of the first day of the festival. The grounds that were once covered with beautiful and vibrant green grass have been trampled into a fine mixture of dirt, dust and gravel that dirties everything it touches. The massive, colorful structures that doubled as art have gradually become beacons for stragglers who strayed away from their group and need to meet back up, and rest stops after aching backs, feet and everything else simply need a place to sit, lean, lay or sleep.
The wide-eyed festival-goers that skipped into the Empire Polo Grounds on Friday have developed into dreary, exhausted, music chasing zombies on Sunday. That’s the battle that Kendrick Lamar had to tackle at 10:35 PM on that final night to close out the first weekend of the festival, and that’s the battle the wunderkind from Compton conquered. His 80-minute headlining set was the culmination of a series of events that marked his return to the music world’s consciousness last month that originated with a simple, since-deleted Instagram post of a roman numeral.
From there it was a whirlwind of new singles, supposed release dates, cover reveals, tracklists, feature reveals, confirmed release dates, incredible music videos, debates about said music video and eventually a new album. Now it was time for his victory lap, and when he arrived it was with a literal explosion that sent a plume of smoke into the air that lingered long after the short Kung Fu Kenny film began to play.