Ballistic for Childish Gambino's energy
Published: Friday, October 26, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 26, 2012 00:10
A packed Jorgensen audience went ballistic Thursday night when rapper Childish Gambino stormed the SUBOG Fall Concert stage with a bombastic, personal performance, the setlist stuffed with crowd-pleasing songs both intense and joyful.
Tatiana Mercado, a 7th-semester communications major and the chair of SUBOG’s concert committee, said that the reason Gambino was chosen was because “he’s different. He brings a full band, he brings a violinist and he has a crazy live show full of energy.”
All of this was evident from the moment Gambino and his band took the stage to the opening harmonies of the first song, “Outside,” off his debut album “Camp.” As a slight piano progression hit a crescendo, the atmosphere in the building heightened. Suddenly, an explosion of light and sound filled the amphitheater as Gambino tore into the deeply personal song about growing up in poverty.
Otherwise known as “Community” actor and former “30 Rock” writer Donald Glover, the rapper has parlayed a side-interest in rap into a full-blown career with die-hard fans, many of whom were in attendance, some wearing custom shirts with the name of his July mixtape “Royalty.”
Songs from “Royalty” cropped up in the latter-half of Glover’s hour-long set. After “Outside” came “Fire Fly,” a track about his college experiences and what it’s like “to be the one black kid at a Sufjan [Stevens] concert,” followed by his breakthrough single, “Freaks and Geeks.” The crowd erupted as Glover shot off the song’s rapid-fire one-liners, the screen behind him trying to catch up as it displayed the lyrics and accompaniment from his hard-working band, who switched instruments frequently during the night depending on the song being played. Different songs featured guitar, bass, at times three drummers (one on a full kit, two on solitary drums), keyboard and violin.
Most of the audience cooled when Glover dug into his archives for a four-track medley from his 2010 album “Culdesac,” released when he was first getting attention, but fans who stuck with him were rewarded with verses from songs like the inspiring “Difference” and 100-m.p.h.-on-the-highway speeder “I Be On That.”
The first climax of the show came when Glover performed his verse from Jamie xx’s remix of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” After leading the crowd in a singalong, Glover slayed them with an abrupt “1, 2, 3, swag” before rattling off his lines at breakneck speed, throwing new lyrics into the mix.
The beautiful “All The Shine” and relatively slow ode to New York City life “L.E.S.” were nothing compared to what came next; as “L.E.S.” faded into an extended outro of “All The Shine,” the music hit a peak that immediately plummeted with the massive drop of the Justice-sampling “Heartbeat.”
Next came a swagger-filled “Bonfire,” the lead single from “Camp,” before the band left the stage in favor of a few tracks off “Royalty” including the creeping standout “Unnecessary.” This had the audience screaming louder than ever, but Glover’s next song, a long, detailed freestyle with plenty of UConn shoutouts, raised the bar even further, leading to even louder screams.
As the show’s intensity was building to a crescendo, Gambino abruptly let the audience know that the next song would be his last, launching into a furious rendition of “EP” track “Lights Turned On.” However, when the song ended, the lights did indeed turn on; despite numerous cries of “Gambino,” the show was over.
“It was a great show and he had a ton of energy,” said 7th-semester computer science major David Furnes, “but I was disappointed the show only lasted an hour.”
“The show was great; I loved the high energy and I think he’s a very witty lyricist,” said 5th-semester English major Kyle Stacey.
Setting the stage before Glover went on stage was the opening act, a rapper named XV from Wichita, Kan. Though winning over a Gambino-crazy crowd was difficult, he did so in his 40-minute set. His first song, “The Kick” opened with what seemed like a tossed-off reference to “Inception,” but as its beat built on itself, it became clear it was actually sampled from Hans Zimmer’s “Time” from the film’s soundtrack. Original, funny lines and impressive beats built from Motown songs and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” prepared the Jorgensen audience for the night that was about to come.
Before Gambino came onstage, representatives from SUBOG announced their next major event: Kenan Thompson, of “Saturday Night Live” and Nickelodeon fame, is coming to campus Nov. 27 for a comedic lecture; tickets go on sale Nov. 1.