The atmosphere at the Hordern Pavilion was electric even before the doors opened for Childish Gambino’s only Splendour in the Grass sideshow of The Deep Web Tour. Diehard punters (many of who had been lined up for hours) were heard constantly chanting ‘WORLDSTAR’ in the queue; an accurate way to judge just how excited this capacity crowd was. In fact, the merchandise booth easily sold out of shirts within an hour of doors opening.
The lone support DJ entertained the crowd for a solid 45 minutes, building the excitement levels to just below fever pitch. Once he was done the chants of ‘WORLDSTAR’ got louder and louder, the crowd’s obvious excitement infecting all who were there. They were ready for a show, and boy did they get one.
Gambino himself arrived to an ear-deafening roar of delight as he powered his way through half the songs of his most recent album Because The Internet opening with ‘Crawl’ and included ‘The Worst Guys’ ‘Shadows’, ‘WORLDSTAR’ and ‘Sweatpants’, with the crowd never missing a beat as Gambino danced and grooved around a stage that was clearly his and his alone.
Dipping into some old school medley action, we saw Gambino mash together an array of songs together from his earlier EPs and album Camp such as ‘Heartbeat’ and ‘Firefly’. This in turn led to more content from Because The Internet that included ‘Pink Toes’, ‘Telegraph Ave (Oakland)’ ‘Earth: The Oldest Computer (The Last Night)’ and cult hit ‘3005’ which, like ‘Sweatpants’, the crowd lost its collective shit (and voices) to.
If the crowd had already lost its shit, then it was nothing compared to the reaction that was given for old school classics ‘Freaks and Geeks’ and ‘Bonfire’, which were featured during his second medley mash up for the first encore. Let me be clear, whilst the chant of ‘WORLDSTAR’ returned during the lull between set and encore, it was drowned out by the crowd chanting, nay DEMANDING, ‘Freaks and Geeks’. I’ve been to plenty of shows in my life but this is the first time I have seen an encore chant be replaced with a song chant.
It was apparent that Gambino “didn’t plan” for a second encore, but it didn’t matter. Gambino brought out his freestyling best, making sure to appease the crowd with local references to Manly Beach and the 5 Seconds Of Summer (why those guys, I don’t know), whilst openly dissing fellow rappers Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q with lines such as “I sing better, I rap better, I do EVERYTHING better” and “I’m the best rapper, definitely Top 5”. Needless to say the collective “OOOOOHHHHH” from the crowd indicated that the gauntlet was down and the challenge issued. An excellent way to round out a fantastic live show.
Childish Gambino is undoubtedly one the big up-and-comers in hip-hop, and if his live audio-visual experience is anything to go by, he has only way to go, and that is up. Hopefully that upward climb brings him back to our shores again, as he is an act you definitely need to see live, and one I will certainly be seeing again.
Feature image courtesy of Jonathan Koifman – info@JonathanKoifman.com or click here
Words by Sean Garrett