Nas and Flying Lotus put on the quintessential Red Rocks show, with help from Schoolboy Q
Editor's note: There was a shooting after last night's concert at Red Rocks. Early reports suggest Schoolboy Q was targeted on his way out of the venue. Three people were injured, none seriously. There was also a concert, though, and by all accounts it was a good one. We'll have some more reports on both the incident and the show, but for now here's our take on the music.
Brandon Marshall Look how amazing this place is.
It was one of those perfect nights at Red Rocks -- warm enough during the day to keep the amphitheater at a nice temperature throughout the night. It wasn't sold-out, so there was a little more room to get comfortable and really enjoy what was about to unfold. Schoolboy Q took the stage while there was still a little bit of light left in the day. His set was okay; it felt like it went on a little too long and the bass overpowered much of anything else that was happening. But the crowd loved it.
Nas came through without too much fanfare -- just enough to let the focus be on him. Now that the venue was dark, his minimal light set-up was just right, his DJ positioned on a glowing platform that simply read "Nas." I appreciated the simplicity; it gave room for Nas to be the main event, something which I think is often overshadowed by lighting and visuals that can complicate rather than compliment an artist. Nas wasted no time, getting into the favored cuts of Illmatic, giving plenty of shout-outs to his fervent fans who have stood by him for the last twenty years.
Nas's presence was pure magic -- he was on. His delivery was incredible, rhymes laced over his tracks with perfect balance. He gave much love to Michael Jackson before performing the "Human Nature" sampling "It Ain't Hard to Tell," and then let the crowd take Ms. Lauryn Hill's verses on "If I Ruled The World." The amphitheater was in heaven. The rapper found a way to bring just the right amount of banter to a set that while packed with hits, felt way too short.
Flying Lotus was up next -- his vibe is so different from what Nas does, but it still flowed together nicely. From behind a screen, the musician and DJ threw down his mix of bassy instrumentals. Strobes flashed and streams of light shot out across the tufts of weed smoke hanging over the crowd. But the real visual delight was what was happening on the screens directly -- Flying Lotus was a shadow in the center of it all, as morphing geometric shapes and rainbows of color whirled around him. It felt, looked and sounded like a show that could have only gone down at Red Rocks.