Donald Glover, also known by his rap alias Childish Gambino, tore up the stage at Sunday night’s Homecoming show presented by SPA. Playing a combination of classic Gambino tracks and new more “bassy” rap jams, Glover, armed with a full band, assaulted students with clever rhymes and energetic beats. Gambino informed students that this was perhaps the last performance of many of the songs, which brought an exciting and exclusive element to the performance.
The set began with one of several epic and on the spot freestyles in which both Glover and his band created spontaneous jams that got the crowd jumping as much as his recorded favorites. Gambino has truly evolved from being a sarcastic rap persona, (the name Childish Gambino comes from an online Wu-Tang Clan MC name generator) into a massive and explosive hip-hop force.
The second full song in the set, one of Gambino’s most well known songs, was “Freaks and Geeks.” The audience joined Glover in reciting every line of carefully crafted wordplay, all while bouncing into every beat drop, causing the floor to rumble and shake. The energy never stopped as he played songs from his mixtape Culdesac and his debut album Camp.
About halfway through the set, the band took a break while Glover, a fellow MC, and a DJ played a couple of bass heavy club style rap songs, before being joined again by the band to finish up the set. Glover followed up with another impeccable freestyle, some brand new songs, and some classic bangers including his extremely popular”Rolling in the Deep” remix. Gambino closed the set with an explosive performance of the ironically appropriate “Lights Turned On” before thanking the crowd and exiting the stage.
As incredible as the performance and the energy of the crowd was, the show was plagued by several technical and planning mistakes. For one, the lights in Rec Hall were never turned down, leaving the entire room awkwardly bright. Both the fans and Gambino himself repeatedly complained about the lights situation, and if Glover hadn’t brought the energy that he did, the show could have become awkward and not as enjoyable. Another issue with the organization of the show was the amount of floor space that was wasted. The floor seats sold out relatively quickly and were more expensive than bleacher seats. However, there was easily plenty of room on the floor for every person who sat in the bleachers to be able to stand comfortably. These issues could keep Gambino’s performance from being the best of the year by any artist at PSU.
Be sure to check out Gambino’s new album, Because the Internet, which drops during “Winter Break” and check in with State in the Real for more Gambino news as the release grows closer.