Alright, multi-instrumentalist Ray Suen. It’s official. I’m jealous of you. First you got to perform as part of The Killers’ band and now you’re touring for Childish Gambino. One person should not be allowed to have that much awesome to himself. It’s not fair! But despite all my envy, I’m also really impressed. You see, The Killers, as an alternative rock group, do not really have anything in common with a rap/hip hop artist, but just by your presence, you’re a reminder that Childish Gambino is not your normal rap/hip hop act. It’s because of Childish Gambino’s unusualness that this indie rock fan found herself at a concert a little outside of my usual genre…and Childish Gambino’s sold out Beaumont Club show was worth stepping outside of my box.
Childish Gambino, may be better known to a lot of people as comedian Donald Glover. Glover stars on NBC’s “Community,” has written for other comedies such as “30 Rock” and has sold out plenty of comedy clubs. His writing background is heavily reflected in his lyrics. His lyrics not only talk about his impressive resume, but also drops plenty of geek and pop culture references. Of course, the usual hip hop themes of hanging with friends and impressing the ladies are still present too, especially in some of Gambino’s newer material. He also has plenty of surprises – there were plenty of jaw drops in Kansas City when the notes of Adele’s ubiquitous “Rolling in the Deep” were sounded out by the band, but the blistering fast lyrical twists gave a blast of freshness to this otherwise overplayed tune. He was like a one man lyrical tornado.
The other big surprise was just how instrumentally-focused Childish Gambino’s music is. I think a lot of people were expecting a turntable or Mac set up with Donald rapping over pre-recorded beats, but there were more instrumentalists up there than most rock bands have. Multiple guitars, drums, synths and even violin rounded out the Childish Gambino sound, making for a very full performance. Donald didn’t play an instrument himself, instead focusing on amping up the crowd and leading singalongs to his lyrics…that is until he started rapping so fast that the audience couldn’t keep up. Some of the most fun I had at this show was trying to read the lyrics on the video screen behind the band, which made singing along easy enough. But then the lyric screen practically would turn into a strobe light as it rolled through letters at Donald’s tempo, emphasizing just how fast he was going.
Donald Glover is a talent to watch. He brings freshness and accessibility to rap/hip hop with Childish Gambino. He has a great stage presence and genuinely seems to care about what he’s doing. So even if this isn’t your usual genre, just like me, I encourage you to step outside of the box and check Childish Gambino out.
Freaks & Geeks
So Fly –> Do Ya Like
I’m On It
Rolling in the Deep
All the Shine
You See Me
Freestyle (Just Donald)
We Ain’t Them
Eat Ur Vegetables – Unnecessary
Make Em Mad