On September 8th, Salt Lake City was blessed by the presence of one of the biggest hip hop artists out right now. Yes, the great J. Cole performed here for the first time in three years on his KOD Tour, and it was quite the show to behold.
The show started at about 8pm, with EarthGang coming out to perform first. They kicked the show off with a mix of popular songs including “Missed Calls” and “Can’t Call It”. They brought good vibes to the crowd and it’s safe to say that they’ve earned some new fans.
After EarthGang finished up their set, it was Jaden Smith’s time to shine. Smith’s set was when the crowd really started to get into the concert mood and turn up. He performed songs such as “Batman”, “Icon”, and “George Jeff”, to the delight of many of those in attendance. To finish off his set, Smith performed “Icon” once again as he raced through the entire lower bowl. The crowd loved this and it got them into the performance even more. Jaden Smith put on a great show and he was a quality opener, as evident by the amount of hype he generated for the main act.
Young Thug was supposed to perform after Jaden Smith, but he didn’t show up for an unknown reason. With no third opening act, the crowd was left with a DJ playing music from J. Cole’s Dreamville label while they waited for Cole to come out. The anticipation was at an all-time high and the crowd could hardly contain it. More and more people started filing in from the concourse. And as the clock struck 9:15pm, the show kicked off.
This is the moment that everyone had been waiting the whole night for. The openers were cool, but it was finally time for J. Cole to come out.
Suddenly the whole arena went black. The huge video monitor on the stage lit up and showed images of an infant right after it was born, with “KOD Intro” playing in the background. Once the intro ended, J. Cole appeared and we faintly heard the beginning of “Window Pain (Outro)”. Cole perfectly captured the emotions in this song with his performance, and it was a very harrowing moment. The crowd was in awe seeing one of the greatest artists of their generation performing it.
Next, Cole threw it back to 2014 Forest Hills Drive and played crowd favorites “A Tale of 2 Citiez” and “Fire Squad”. After these tracks, he brought it back to KOD and played the majority of the album.
Cole didn’t just stick to these two albums however. To the delight of many fans, he played a few tracks from his debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story, as well as a couple from 2016’s 4 Your Eyez Only.
After throwing it back a bit to his previous work, Cole took a moment to address the crowd about very serious issues that are currently facing our society. With emotion in his voice, he talked about the mental health crisis that he addresses quite frequently on KOD. This was the most emotional and heartfelt that I’ve ever heard J. Cole, and it was my personal favorite moment of the entire show. He urged the crowd to love their life and seek help when they need it, and then he played two of his more personal tracks, “Love Yourz” and “Apparently”.
Following the sentimental moment, Cole played more tracks from 2014 Forest Hills Drive and then finished the show with the last two tracks from KOD. The album’s title track, “KOD”, was another highlight of the show, purely because you could tell that the entire crowd was waiting for it the whole night.
Cole then thanked the crowd for showing up to the show and then walked off the stage. They chanted “one more song” until he finally came back out and performed perhaps his most recognizable track, “No Role Modelz”. He definitely closed out the show with a bang.
This was absolutely a night to remember. J. Cole put on an amazing show that was well worth the money that those in attendance spent. He performed songs from every era of his music and truly encompassed his entire artistic direction. It was especially cool hearing him perform his older tracks and being able to compare them to his latest. It really shows the growth that he has had and makes me appreciate him that much more.
If you missed this show, I urge you to go see J. Cole when he comes to Salt Lake City again. Even if you aren’t his biggest fan, you will get your money’s worth.