Donald Glover, the multi-talented media personality who started out as the sketch comedy writer/actor from Derrick Comedy, and has made us laugh our asses off as Troy on Community, is tearing it up from coast to coast under his stage name Childish Gambino. This guy really knows how to pump up a crowd. If anyone has ever seen any of his stand up or acting, you’d know how animated he is on those fronts. He brings all of that in his showmanship. It is one hundred percent clear he is feeling the beat in every bone in his body.
Let’s talk about that beat for a second, because it actually deserves several. Gambino doesn’t have your traditional rap artist set up. He has the real deal four piece band to back him up, and they know their stuff. It’s really refreshing to see the effort put in to really make it an engaging show. Who can argue that real violin on tracks like “All That Shine,” isn’t better than a violin sample. No one, that’s who. The rhythm that was being generated at times made it impossible not to move your body. Band members were equipped with their own floor tom to add to jams separately or all at once which created something that is just spectacular to see and hear.
Enough band gushing, back to Gambino. When you listen to tracks off his most recent albums, and even his mix tapes, you can hear he’s got serious flow and rhymes that are really clever. Seeing them done live just actualized how well he can actually pull them off. The set list was well planned out, primarily focusing on camp, with a bit of old and new thrown in. Energetic songs like “Bonfire” that demanded everyone go absolutely nuts, would transition to slower R&B jams where Gambino would put the mic on the stand and really put himself into it. The screens behind the performance showed at times distracting video editing sequences, but other times had excellent use of typography to present the lyrics, making the experience more interactive.
What was a little bit of a curveball was the encore sequence. He went on with another rapper and did some songs off of Royalty sans band. After a full set of the band rocking out and adding to the energy, the two of them rapping over mixed tracks just seemed a little flat. The rhymes were by no means unskilled, but the songs in total just lacked the punch that the earlier part of the night had. This was immediately made up for with a stellar freestyle jam with the two rappers and the band just improvising.
All in all if you want to go out and see a well-rounded show, with almost everything you want in a good time. Childish Gambino has it all. Awesome showmanship, killer band, and sweet tunes.
“I swear this summer will be Summer camp. Bitch.” - “Bonfire” Childish Gambino