When the announcement of Childish Gambino (along with Diplo) being one of the headliners of Brookfest 2014 was made, it was surprising to see the entire backlash with the selection. Some students didn’t know who Gambino was and blasted the USG for not having a more popular act (because Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z are apparently known for their shows at colleges). Other students are sick of having rappers appear year after year and wanted a rock band to come to SBU (despite Grouplove’s impressive show of indie rock last year). In the long run, Gambino may have been a very logical choice: he is not a huge star but has a passionate cult following, most of his fans are young college students who appreciate his alternate style of music, and his presence is more relatable to the audience instead of being larger than life. Compared to Ludacris last year, Childish Gambino is a major improvement on the part of having someone new, relevant, and able to connect with a college crowd.
Gambino, currently on his Deep Web tour, performed in front of a live band and video screen that looked like a fancy penthouse owned by Bruce Wayne. His power levels were well over 9,000 (you’re welcome, “Dragonball Z” fans) as he hopped around stage in short shorts and a sweater. Gambino moved and grooved to his funky live band with full control over the hyped Stony Brook crowd. Most of the show had Gambino playing cuts of his recent album, “Because the Internet,” which actually had a lot more bounce and fun to them than on the album itself. Tracks like “WORLDSTAR” and “Sweatpants” and especially opener “Crawl” turned into fist pumping club anthems as the crowd shook LaValle Stadium. When “Earth: The Oldest Computer” started with it chants of wanting to live forever and its hammering bass, it seemed like Diplo was getting shown up before he even took the stage. More so, the smoother, R&B flavored jams like “Telegraph Ave” and “The Worst Guys” had a bit more energy and allowed Gambino to shuck and jive as the crowd matched his vibe. Of course Gambino’s more popular songs, like “3005,” “Heartbeat,” and “Freaks and Geeks,” were treated to extreme fanfare. “3005” was the peak of the show, but the closer “Bonfire” had the most audience participation. Nearly the entire crowd (including this writer) was singing to Gambino’s boasting anthem as Gambino himself shouted his lungs out. Despite his somewhat somber demeanor onstage, Gambino looked to be having the time of his life onstage bouncing off the edges of the stage.
So to all of the students who missed the opportunity to see Gambino, this writer won’t judge your taste in music or preference for a live show (personally, I didn’t stay for Diplo due to a lack of interest in the artist). But this was a very entertaining show full of spirit and life. Granted, the sound of the band overtook Gambino’s voice on occasion, but Gambino still worked around it. He has a passion and dedication to his craft that he wants to present in full force live. That craft was brought front and center to the students at Stony Brook, so here’s to 6 albums and a biopic (you’re welcome “Community” fans).