When I saw a tweet saying that rapper Childish Gambino (real name Donald Glover) would be performing for free at the Butler Park stage for the eight o’clock Saturday South by Southwest showcase, I knew immediately that I would find a way there. I was pleasantly surprised that the only money I had to shell out was for parking in the Long Center covered garage. And after ruefully giving up $10 and finding a sweet parking spot, I made my way to the heart of the park for the relatively smaller crowd than I was expecting.
At first, I was not terribly keen on the idea of being stuck behind tall gigantors drenched in sweat and the stench of marijuana; but as the interesting line up of opening acts finished, the crowd surged forward, somehow propelling me near the front — leaving me at the point of no return. The personal space level was nonexistent, but the weather was definitely in the favor of the crowd, easing the heat with refreshingly brisk breezes.
As the time rolled down to eight o’clock, everyone began moving forward again, pushing me near the front even farther. Once it was eight everyone seemed to decide that Childish Gambino needed to make his way out to the stage, but we were all sorely mistaken because Gambino did not make his appearance onstage until roughly eight-fifteen; but when he came on, he brought the restless crowd alive with “Worldstar,” a hit off his recent album Because the Internet. The movement of the crowded audience was infectious. Even I, one of the more Caucasian attendees, felt the rhythm and moved with the ebb and flow of the audience’s jumps. With Gambino’s charisma and showmanship, this continued right until the very end of his hour-and-a-half set — complete with two encore performances and a funnily poignant freestyle at the end.
To say that Childish Gambino knows how to work a crowd is an understatement. He knows how to move a crowd. With an incredible band who were completely prepared to drop a beat for a rockin’ freestyle, Gambino did not cease to drop jaws throughout his entire set.
And after having gone to the Dallas concert a week prior, I can honestly say this SXSW show far exceeded any concert I had ever gone to.
If you like rap and are looking for something new, I’d recommend his music just in case he comes back soon and you want an excellent concert to go to.