Review: Childish Gambino at The Republik
REVIEW BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Donald Glover is no Bruno Mars, but both entertainers headlined sold-out shows on Saturday night — Mars at Blaisdell Arena, Glover at The Republik as his rapper alter-ego Childish Gambino.
In an authentic and refreshing 80-minute performance high on entertainment value and free of gimmicks, the 30-year old award winning sitcom writer, actor and accomplished comedian proved to be primed and ready to show his musical artistry will surely outlast the hipster generation he is so closely associated with.
Glover, whose stage moniker was conceptualized by a Wu Tang Clan name generator, not only showed he is well beyond his years as an entertainer, but that his creativity and charisma only boosts his credibility as an artist.
Mere moments after local opener Prie wrapped up a 30-minute set, chants of “Bino” and “World Star” echoed loudly throughout the Kapiolani concert hall as the crowd showed their cult-like allegiance.
Glover, who walked out wearing a dark sweater that he quickly removed to reveal a white short sleeve pocket tee, camo green shorts and a low top pair of white vintage Nike’s, two-stepped and shuffled across the stage, reminiscent of Michael Jackson while belting out an impressive falsetto ala Prince and D’Angelo.
Accompanied by a four-piece band that wasn’t advertised as part of the show — which was a welcomed surprise, adding a cool, organic element — there were moments early on where the sound mix seemed to muffle Glover’s witty wordplay, but the crowd seemed unfazed and continued to recite lyric after lyric.
If he wasn’t rapping, his soulful voice was met with shreaks of approval. While Bruno was a few blocks away at the Blaisdell, Glover did his thing in front of a packed house as well. Not bad for an artist with no local radio airplay.
From his natural charisma to his artistry and vision, there are many similarities between Glover and his idol, Kanye West. Engaged from the onset, crowd eruptions were constant during his signature hit, “World Star,” where he grabbed a fan’s phone to take a selfie and set the tone for an evening of adrenaline-packed vibes.
At this point in the show, his cotton T-shirt was very much drenched in sweat. Knowledgeable fans recited lyrics during “Shadows,” and “Sweatpants” without having to be prompted. While the vibe mellowed out considerably during “Pink Toes,” the hype value reemerged during fan favorite “3005” and the crowd clapped to the beat during “Earth: The Old Computer.”
The lights then dimmed suddenly as the show seemed to come to abrupt halt. It prompted a robust “Gambino” chant from the one side of the crowd that was answered with shouts of “World Star” from others. Just as suddenly, Glover reappeared without his band and asked the crowd if he could do some “bass music” to loud shouts of approval. He then followed up with “Black Faces,” “Freaks and Geeks,” “Bonfire” and “Bed Peace.”
The do-everything talent concluded his solid performance with an off-the-dome freestyle rap that mentioned familiar island stereotypes like shakas, surfboards and Hawaiian shirts. Glover is a beast of creativity on many platforms and holds his own in the rap arena, even if he doesn’t consider himself a rapper — and it’s clear the best is yet to come.