Childish Gambino-The Beaumont Club-7-25-12
By: Austin Coffelt
It became clear fairly quickly that I was out of my element at the Childish Gambino show. No, it wasn’t about race or sex, it was about age. Almost everyone at the show was a good 5 years younger than myself, but the great thing about that crowd was that nobody cared. Age didn’t matter, and neither did anything besides the fact Childish Gambino provided a show that evoked the most energy I’ve ever experienced at a concert in Kansas City. The entire crowd fed on the emotion of Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino all night, with a few songs seemingly blowing the roof off of the entire building. However, an unexpected lineup change nearly doomed the crowd from the beginning.
Danny Brown was supposed to open the show, but for reasons unbeknownst to us, he was replaced with Chance the Rapper. Chance is a good rapper, but his material does not translate well live, leaving the crowd without that opening jump the entire crowd seemed to have been expecting from Danny Brown’s ODB-esque flow. WheatCity co-founder Santino Sosa and I although being nearly 30, still managed to hang with the young go-hards, because the show that Gambino puts on doesn’t allow anything less. He comes out of the gate with the same track that opens his 2011 album CAMP (see my review on this site), Outside. Outside is poignant opener, while the beat gets you hyped, it also sets a level of intimacy for the show that seemed to connect the crowd from the initial hook of the acapella chorus. The new single, Firefly, followed next, further pushing the crowd towards the level of excitement that was imminent. From the moment Glover said “if you’re the dude or a Gambino girl, you’ll know all the words to this shit”, I knew that my favorite Childish Gambino song was upon us. From the opening notes of “Freaks and Geeks”, my inhibitions about being a 27 year old chubby white dude from Emporia, KS went out the window and I simply let loose and fully enjoyed my favorite song with the rest of the crowd. A medley of older songs followed, where some of the “pre-EP” crowd fell off a bit. His “cover” of Adele’s Rolling in the Deep got the crowd right back in the mood to party, because when that beat dropped and Gambino started his verse, the Beaumont Club erupted. A majority of the set was appropriately composed of tracks from CAMP, Glover’s debut album, but none was more warmly welcomed than Bonfire, which I named my top track of 2011. When that siren went off the entire crowd exploded like nothing I’d ever seen at a concert before, for we all knew that it was about to get crazy, and Gambino did not disappoint. The power of the lyrics paired with a beat that you can’t help but feel through your bones and a hyped up crowd, makes for an immediate party. He closed the show the same he opened it, the same way his album closes with the track Sunrise. What followed was encore that while full of tracks the crowd might not have known as well, still carried the same energy. He opened his 5 song encore with 3 songs off his new mix-tape Royalty, which was released July 4 (We Ain’t Them, One Up, and Unnecessary) one track that had been previously released prior to the drop of Royalty (Eat Your Vegetables), and one track that he is known for closing his shows with (Lights Turned On). Lights Turned On is one of those songs like Freaks and Geeks or Bonfire, where he draws you in with his flow, then drops one of those beats on you that run through you from the moment it hits. He left the crowd satisfied, yet wanting more.
Even though we felt out of place at first, after the show Childish Gambino put on, I will have no issue returning to future shows when Glover decides to return to the area. While this was my first strictly hip-hop live show, it will most definitely not be my last. If Childish Gambino isn’t a part of your normal musical rotation at this point, you are most certainly missing out. He has made it clear that not only is he one of the best current comedic talents by his work on Community, 30 Rock and his stand-up comedy, but that he can rap. He’s not just another actor trying to rap, Gambino is here for a long time, and the fact that his studio material translates so well live only strengthens my opinion.