Childish Gambino at The Venue Scottsdale, 4/11/12

Childish Gambino The Venue Scottsdale Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Judd Apatow and Paul Feig's Freaks and Geeks was one of those shows that seemed too good to exist -- and indeed it didn't for very long. NBC cancelled it after one season (they didn't even originally air all the episodes that had been filmed), but that didn't stop fans from forming a loving cult in its honor, and launching the careers of Jason Segel, James Franco, Martin Starr, Seth Rogan, and Linda Cardellini.

"Freaks and Geeks" is also the name of one of Donald Glover, a.k.a Childish Gambino's most popular songs. Despite the prideful nature of the tune (he discusses the size of his junk, having sex with white, Asian, and black girls, and flips poor 'old e.e. cummings into a dirty joke), the tune still demonstrates why Childish stands a step removed from the mainstream (he name checks Ariel Pink and Batman, too). And it's hard not to think a little of another ratings-starved, critically adored NBC sitcom about a group of misfits: Community, which Glover stars in.

In our paper last week, we discussed how Childish Gambino doesn't fit into the rap mold, but last night his eccentricities were only part of the equation for live success: He dropped it hard. With violins, drums and a bass guitar backing him up, Childish was on-key and on-point, delivering exactly what the crowd came for.

After opener Danny Brown, the crowd needed a kick-start. No offense to Sir Brown, he did his thing well, but pissed the crowd off by continuously mixing up Tucson and Scottsdale (he was pretty sure he was in the former). Brown has flow, but he lost a lot of the crowd through his set, which mainly consisted of shouting out "SWAG" and saying that he is going to roll up a J. I heard some fans grumble, "We get it dude you smoke," and yeah, that's the point that songs like "Blunt After Blunt" make clear.

As Childish took the stage, it became clear that the laidback crowd was ready to get moving. Things got rowdy the moment he appeared, and he even got the name of the city he was in right.

He performed "Freaks and Geeks" and got the crowd hyped, owning his uniquely pitched voice and style. Dude can rap, dude can act, and most impressively, he can sing: He blew me away in his song "Heartbeat".

Childish ended his encore with an awesome freestyle. Danny Brown walked back out to the stage, joining Childish while holding a handle of liquor, jumping in on the freestyle. The lights in the background flashed "See You Next Year." Yes, please!

It's clear that Childish knew how to throw down for his Camp Tour. Gambino Camp, I'll sign up for that any day.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Childish Gambino and Danny Brown and Venue Scottsdale

The Crowd: The typical college crowd and loyal Gambino lovers.

Random Notebook Dump: Childish took off his shirt hmmmm...

Follow us on Twitter and friend us on Facebook

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Taylor Moon
Contact: Taylor Moon