It seemed as if the concert bookers of Eugene had opened the floodgates for live music that catered to the college-aged masses last weekend. UO students and the Eugene community were able to see Medium Troy, RJD2 and Devin the Dude at the Bohemian Dub Ball at the Hult Center on Saturday. Others chose to attend Night Beats, Wampire and a DJ competition for the Willamette Valley Music Festival all through the night on campus as well.
But the highest-profile name to come through Eugene for the weekend (that is, if you weren’t seeing Steve Martin at the Hult) was rapper-comedian-actor Donald Glover’s, who performed as Childish Gambino at Cuthbert Friday night.
Many are quick to label Gambino as the “hip-hop alter ego” of the television and comedy star, and with good reason. Glover, of course, was a “world star before rap”—as he sings on “World Star” from 2013 release Because The Internet.
Glover may have first earned his fame from his work on television with starring in Community and writing for 30 Rock, or comedy with Derek Comedy and his standup on Comedy Central. But when he performed in front of a packed crowd in Eugene, the audience was able to enjoy the concert through the lens of his identity as a rapper. The crowd may have been aware of his previous accolades, but they were certainly at the Childish Gambino concert to see a hip-hop performance.
Danny Brown initially set the mood for a rap show at The Cuthbert early in the night, throwing down with the crowd to songs like “25 Bucks” (which uses a beat produced by indie-electro pop band Purity Ring) and a freestyle track that sampled a song from Watch The Throne by Kanye West and Jay-Z.
After Danny Brown finished his set and as the rain began to come down hard, live DJ Stefan Ponce helped keep the party going.
Right off the bat, he announced that it would “take more than rain” to stop Childish Gambino from performing tonight. Energy stayed high in the building, and the DJ played music by Drake, Chance The Rapper, Kendrick Lamar and even MIA, Snoop Dogg and Michael Jackson.
When Ponce finished his set, the “digital experience” of Childish Gambino’s Deep Web Tour was set to begin. Most notably, fans were encouraged to download the Deep Web App, in which the crowd was able to draw messages that would appear on the stage screen. This feature was received much better than the dial tone that blared through the venue while fans waited for Gambino to take the stage.
When Gambino did begin his show, however, the energy was much higher than many would have expected considering that Community had been cancelled earlier that day, and that he was performing in a rainy college town. But while rocking a crewneck and white shorts in the rain, Gambino and his live band dished out a suitable mix of his more sentimental music to chase down the party-atmosphere bangers for the crowd.
The live 7-piece band was also a refreshing change of pace for a hip-hop show in 2014, and fans seemed to appreciate the sincerity that came with the real-life instrumentation.
Another interesting feature of the gig was an additional scrim and chandelier that were lowered during the show. Recalling the interactivity of the set, the audience was also able to participate in a mid-concert poll in which they indicated that they were feeling “some type of way” — like the song by Rich Homie Quan.
Between each chant of “World Star!” that emerged from the crowd during the show, Gambino’s energy gave everyone in attendance a constant reminder as to why Donald Glover has remained the Internet star that we know and love. — Bryan Kalbrosky