Show Review: The I Am Donald tour with Donald Glover and Childish Gambino at Slim’s 12/11/10

by Marie Carney on December 12, 2010

Donald Glover and band (my apologies for the iPhone photo)

Home from the first ever I Am Donald Tour I find myself, though my ears are ringing and my feet are aching, sitting here smiling as I write this.  Although the evening was based around one person it was one of the most entertaining and well rounded performances I’ve ever seen.  Maybe it is because Mr Donald Glover is such and entertaining and well rounded guy.  He wrote for 30 Rock before he was 25 (as attested to in “Let Me Dope You”), does stand up, stars on NBC’s Community and raps under the name Childish Gambino.  The most impressive part being that he does all these things well and with all his heart.  There was never really a chance that this wouldn’t be an amazing show.

It was a little surprising to me, despite the name of the tour, that Donald Glover really did open for himself since in his songs he seems to want some distance between comedy and music.  He came out on stage and gave the sold out crowd a hillarious 30 minute stand up set.  I hadn’t seen his stand up before, and I swear at one point I thought I would die laughing.  It was that unattractive eye watering, can’t breathe laughing that just feels oh so good.  I’m not even going to attempt to relay any jokes I’m just going to say if he comes back to SF to do a stand up show I am making everyone I know goes because it will make their life better. 

When it came time for the comedy portion to end and the music portion to begin he did it with a phone call on his iPhone.  This of course, via facetime, turned into a silly video about future Donald Glover coming to warn present Donald Glover about what his music would do to the world.  Again, I’m not going to repeat jokes.  But it was oh so funny.

Then the music started.  The intensity of the music was just as strong as the hilarity in the first half of the performance.  Donald Glover’s songs as the rapper Childish Gambino are full of grit, wit, geekiness and overall honesty that makes it a treasure to listen to.  All of this I expected.  What I wasn’t expecting was a full band:  Bassist, Drummer, Keyboardist/Guitarist and, best of all, a violinist.  The arrangements with this group was nothing short of jaw dropping.  The drummer and bassist were so good it made me bounce through the whole show, but it was the addition of the violinist that really made it something special.  He played aggressively and stridently and it was utterly amazing.

Most of the set was tracks off his free, downloadable, highly reccomended album Culdesac with some other songs from his mixtapes added in.  The audience was on board for the show, bouncing and singing along. The songs stayed true to how they sound on the album, but the live band turned it up that extra notch it needed.  The set was short, only about 40 minutes, but after intense cheering and screaming came back out on stage and did a great freestyle rap.  I probably don’t know enough about hip-hop to really comment, but to say I was impressed would be an understatement.  In a bit of awe would be more accurate.

After that it was one more song and good night, bringing the show to an end at the early hour of 10:30.  On a weekday I would have been ecstatic, but it was a little sad for a Saturday night.  Still, it left me wanting more so that I, and everyone else there, will be jumping for tickets next time.

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