If Maxwell, Lil Wayne and Oprah had a surprisingly well-adjusted son that became a rap star, his name would be Donald Glover. He would write lyrics in kerosene and his lips would be made of matches. He would become a superhero under the moniker Childish Gambino and annihilate Denver with the force of a Korean missile. And while I may be taking liberties with hyperbole, this show kicked ass.
Donald Glover did, in fact, destroy the ear-drums and shatter the expectations of every human in the sold-out Fillmore Auditorium last night. I didn’t plan to review this show. Shit, I didn’t plan to attend this show. But fate stepped in and threw me a bone laced with witty wordplay, staggering lyrical tangents and the incredible production value of the Oscars.
Glover rolled through Denver on his Because the Internet tour and allusions to the name were everywhere. The impatient crowd watched as a scrolling message board of fans’ tweets displayed adoration for the rapper, irritation for the late door time or random messages about specials on hot wings (nice marketing, Buffalo Wild Wings).
When a stern Glover appeared seated at a piano after a long wait time, he made light of the night ahead.
This isn’t a fucking Adele concert. You better fucking move.
Glover erupted into a sequential set of basically all of Because the Internet, rarely taking time to breathe between spitting lyrics like wildfire. He took a short break as a screen appeared in front of the live band and a lifelike rainstorm seemed to douse Glover as he reappeared onto the stage. The screen behind the stage became a living room set where Glover’s band took breaks to chill on the couches stationed in front.
Because of the internet
By the time he got to “3005,” Glover—clad in tiny floral shorts and a transparent white sleeveless tee—had exerted his dominance over this rap game. With artists like Glover, Chance the Rapper and Tyler the Creator allowing fans to access their fears, paranoia, insecurities and heartbreak, they have created a new world of hip-hop where it’s okay to be an intelligent, vulnerable man of the spoken word.
The audience detonated when Glover burst into “Heartbeat,” shouting the lyrics in unison.
She’s got a key to my place, but she’s not my girlfriend.
When Glover returned for his second (or third) encore, he slipped into a shaky freestyle to the beat of “Rack City.” And while his verses weren’t terrible, his freestyle lacked the locked explosion of his memorized lyrics.
As a big advocate of the atypically exposed rapper, I appreciate the culture these artists have created. I empathize with their trivial, erudite struggles. I succumb to their subtle allusions and lyrical potency. And Glover’s show was an illustration of what production coupled with talent and industry shrewdness can achieve. Atta boy, Donald.
Fuck the cool kids.
**All photos by the talented Lindsey Bartlett.