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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Review Fri Mar 21 2014

Childish Gambino's Deep Web Surprises Riviera

(Photos by Sara Pieper )

I think that at this point, we can get over the whole actor turned musician stigma that has followed Donald Glover around. Bringing it up now seems needless seeing as how he has left his most prominent acting presence, Community, for his Childish Gambino persona. But when you look at what he's doing now, the stigma has become an asset. It has been helping him mold this new venture. Even after his early releases proclaimed that he is just a rapper, this is not the case. A 72 page script, a short film that loosely follows said script, and a release of a "bootleg" vinyl of Because the Internet barely begin to describe the experience that he is attempting to create. Childish Gambino succeeded with an incredible show at the Riviera this past Wednesday.

childish gambino.jpg

Throughout the wait for the show to begin, the background of the stage displayed twitter messages, all the while quick sketches flashed on the screen. Jokes ranged from crude drawings of dicks to Community in-jokes (Annie's boobs). The stage itself sat in the shadows, adorned with couches, recliners, and a home bar set up on the elevated sections. People from backstage began hanging out in the faux house party scene before a bright spotlight centered on the bar cabinet which hid DJ equipment. Stefan Ponce, Chicago native and producer of Gambino's "3005", came out to perform a quick set. He kept his DJing reasonably standard, playing up to the house party scene that but kept the crowd moving and singing along. However, a quick surprise performance of "Feel That" by Vic Mensa livened up the crowd. That guest only fueled the crowd's hopes for an appearance of Chance the Rapper, whose name had been chanted countless times at this point. Ponce kept the crowd guessing, teasing the crowd for what seemed like a forlorn hope.

childish gambino piano.jpg
(Photos by Sara Pieper)

As soon as Ponce's DJ set ended, a deep beeping followed by a quick dash of telephone dialing commenced. The screen kept scrolling down what was either real time tweets and drawings or an incredibly well done impression of them. The beeping before the dialing grew longer and longer, before ultimately bursting to the old familiar sound of a dial up modem. The screen flickered and flashed electronic blueprints of a home's architecture alternated between those of the inside of a computer. Snippets of songs played and rushed around before the images settled on a modern living room fireplace, prompting Childish Gambino to come out a play a few keys on the piano in the middle of the stage.

(Photos by Sara Pieper )

The show was divided very purposefully. The Deep Web Tour proper was almost exclusively Because the Internet songs. Unlike his previous tour where videos on stage and Gambino fought for attention, Deep Web fluidly worked all its elements together. The screen and setup gave Childish Gambino a chance to float in and out of songs, kicking out the loungers hanging out on the house set and rapping behind a thin veil of projected rain. Gambino was completely in control of the stage as he tore into "Crawl" and "World Star", bouncing back and forth so rapidly that the entire crowd swayed with his movements.

childish gambino (2).jpg
(Photos by Sara Pieper )

When "The Worst Guys" started, no one was really expecting Chance the Rapper to make a surprise appearance. It was one of the bigger pops of the night and right fully so. Dozens of cameras came out to capture the moment. Chance and Gambino work incredibly well together, using each others energy to really pump up the crowd. After his appearance Chance moved up to one of the couches onstage, with Gambino saying "Get high, do whatever." The set continued to showcase not only Gambino's infinitely large confidence, but the live instrumentation of all the songs. His band added an organic and powerful quality to them. "3005" in particular sounded lusher than it's studio counter part.

childish gambino6.jpg
(Photos by Sara Pieper )

The first encore harkened back to Camp as the background featured a familiar campfire. He performed wild and varied, medleys of his pre-Because the Internet material. Playing the more recognizable hits that propelled him up to where he is currently at. "Heartbeat" sounded rougher and angrier, while the verses of "Freaks and Geeks" were a frenzied energy of his most referential self. It was nice to see him perform these songs again with even more skill that he did in previous shows. However, the second encore was the biggest and most welcome surprise as Childish Gambino, his brother Steve G. Lover, and Chance the Rapper returned to exchange freestyles. They hyped one another up, not that they needed to considering how strong their impromptu final set was. It was 9+ minutes of unadulterated rapping, finishing off with severe flashes and Chance mock playing the piano. They could have freestyled the entire night, I'm sure no one would have minded.

(Photos by Sara Pieper )

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RyanW / March 21, 2014 6:03 PM

The tweets and drawings on screen during the intro were posted by the audience members. There was an app that went along with the show.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
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Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
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Theft Liable to Prosecution
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