"I want you to burn this place to the f**king
ground.” That was the fervent command of
Childish Gambino, as he set Stage AE ablaze last Monday, during his first performance
When he’s not rousing audiences with his acerbic wit and alluring
vocals under the alias, Childish Gambino, the multifaceted Donald Glover
appears as the humorous Troy Barnes on NBC's "Community," and
nurtures his budding talent as a stand-up comedian.
Maybe it is his experience as an actor, which lent to his
seemingly effortless stage presence. No
matter, every aspect of his performance was captivating – from his spry
movements owning the stage, to his ornate and often metaphorical lyrics that
poured from his lips in a rhythmic frenzy.
Although Glover has been producing independent rap and hip-hop
offerings since 2008 - releasing three albums for free digital download through
his website - it was his first commercial album, Camp, which brought him to the indoor venue at Stage AE.
Released in the latter part of 2011, Camp, is a garish assortment of carefully crafted tracks, which
entwine deliberately self-absorbed lyrics with arresting beats that employ a
wide array of instrumentation. It is as
though Glover purposely mocks the majority of rappers who feign overconfidence
in their rhymes, and yet it’s that provocative and consistently haughty
wordplay, which lends to his appeal.
Glover demonstrated his versatile musical prowess throughout
the course of his 16-song set, accompanied by a full band that included a
violinist. Also lending to the
theatrical performance was a giant screen overhead, which projected lyrics to
some of the more popular tracks from Camp,
like “LES” and “You See Me.” Although visually engaging, the display seemed futile for the packed
crowed of devoted fans, which instinctively spouted off the lyrics to
each song as though they were reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
The predominantly white audience leeched off Glover’s
unpretentious swagger, falling into unison with one another when the
28-year-old rapper demanded that the crowd get their hands up in the air during
the laid back sing-a-long track, “I’m On It.”
For our systematic efforts, we were rewarded with his soul-clapping remix
of John Legend’s “Rolling In The Deep” cover.
The evening swelled to its climax with his final number,
“Lights Turned On.” As the
instrumentation began pulsing coyly in the backdrop, Glover delivered yet
another directive for the sweat-soaked audience, “When the beat drops I wanna
see everybody moving.” The indisputably gifted
performer had given us everything he had - including the shirt off his back,
and he expected the same unrestrained passion from his audience. We were more than happy to oblige.
As Childish Gambino continues his world tour in support of Camp, you can keep up with all things
Donald Glover through his Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Childish-Gambino/201109308841
and his blog http://iamdonald.com/childishgambino.