Concert Review: Childish Gambino at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre (5/9/12)

One of the more anticipated events of my 2012 calendar year was going to a Gambino concert when he went on tour again.  I bought tickets to his March 30th show the day they went on sale.  Then he broke his foot (or ankle, or whatever), and the show got delayed to a random Wednesday in May.  Was it worth the wait?

Absolutely.  It was pretty much everything I hoped for in a show from him.  The Camp/Culdesac heavy set list was nearly perfect.  Going from high energy shit like “Freaks and Geeks”, to sweet slow songs like “Letter Home”, to an epic freestyle with his buddy; the show offered a little taste of all that he has to offer musically.

The high energy crowd ate up the whole show.  And that’s probably because Gambino is so enthusiastic the whole time.  You can tell he puts a lot into his shows, and takes the entertainment aspect of the performance very seriously.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that he raps over a live band as well.  He wants nothing more than to make the crowd happy.  And happy we were.  Yelling out every punchline to the brilliantly comical lyrics throughout the set, the show was pretty much non-stop fun to the liquored up tiny crowd.

Gambino – “That ain’t ironic, bitch,”


And so on.

It was the kind of show that made me wonder why I don’t go to more than one or two live music events a year.  This does nothing but excite me even more for August 5th, when I get to see him again at Lollapalooza.  That has potential to be an even crazier set.  I’m sure he’ll have the audience eating out of his hand then as much as he did last night.  To paraphrase one of his lines: he’s running this bitch, we’re just some dog walkers.


One person that *didn’t* have the crowd eating out of his hand, however, was his opening act – Danny Brown.  He received pretty much zero praise from the crowd.  We weren’t exactly booing him, but we certainly weren’t cheering him.  Terrible haircut and wardrobe aside, the rapper mumbled all of his words and had no charisma.  His opening song was an almost a cappella rap that was downright boring.  He would flick off the audience and seemed to lack any kind of redeeming stage presence.  It’s a shame, because I downloaded his latest album XXX earlier this week to preview what I would be hearing at the show, and I actually kind of liked it.  Especially the track “DNA”.  But what he did live last night was atrocious.  I doubt anyone in attendance who hadn’t previously heard of Danny Brown went home and wanted to check out his work.  It was bad.  During his 30 or so minute set, I got several drink refills at the bar and took a couple of bathroom breaks.  During one of my piss sessions, apparently, someone threw a beer can at Brown’s head and he got pissed.  So I missed the most entertaining part of his set…

Danny Brown: A Walking Suck Fest

But it was easy to forget Danny Brown once Childish took the stage.  It was a complete reversal in crowd attitude.  The order of songs in his set list was different than I expected, I kind of assumed that he would end with a 1-2-3 punch of “Heartbeat”, “Freaks and Geeks”, and “Bonfire”.  Instead, “Freaks and Geeks” was the third song he performed, and the other two hits were in the middle somewhere (maybe 3/4ths the way through).  I can’t really complain though, because it all worked.  I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t think the “Lights Turned On” finale was fucking awesome.

In my almost 5 and 1/2 years of working at my current job, I’ve never *once* gotten drunk on a work night.  But for a sold out Gambino show that unfortunately got shifted from a Friday to a Wednesday, I made my first exception, and got tipsy (but not sloshy) on $8 rum and cokes.  I felt like complete dog shit today at work because of it.  AND I REGRET NOTHING.  I couldn’t think of a better reason to have a few drinks on a Wednesday (but I don’t plan on any more weekday drinking in my near future [at least without a day off the next day {I’m getting too old for this kind of shit}]).

I feel like Danny Brown takes a full point off of the concert as a whole, but I’m struggling to find anything wrong with the Childish Gambino side of things.  If you’re a fan, you need to check him out live, it’s well worth it.  FUN WEDNESDAY.

9 out of 10

4 thoughts on “Concert Review: Childish Gambino at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre (5/9/12)

    • scottodactyl says:

      You might have liked Brown, but are you denying that 90% of the audience that night wasn’t diggin him? I assume he puts on better shows than that, because XXX is kinda good, but he was crappy that night.

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