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Summerstage: A Childish Recap

The clouds opened up after a day of thunderous rain, leaving a hue of purple and orange as the background to a simply arranged, yet commanding stage set-up in Central Park, New York. Gambino’s crowd, as always, was eclectic, consisting of every race, gender, orientation, age and background; the park’s population was telling of the positive and sprawling effect hip-hop has had on the last few generations.


The first two performers, Q and Brown, demanded attention and praise from a crowd that largely seemed to be there for the headliner. The performers were able to tell their own tales, both extremely different from Gambino’s, in a way that the audience instantly vibed to. Brown, although aggressive in verse, was refreshingly relaxed and aware of the stage he strutted on, and Q had the entire crowd moving to the foundation of funk many of his beats are built on.

It wasn’t this trio’s similarities, but their differences that made the show so refreshing, though. Following both Q and Brown, Gambino accented this differentiation by opening with “Outside,” a reflection on his family and racial struggles as a child. “So Fly,” “Heartbeat” and “Letter Home” were standout moments of the night, all discussing woman but representing them in different formats, feelings and themes. As always, Gambino’s back up band dominated the sonic waves of the space it contained, led by the masterful Ludwig on guitar.

Yet, as Gambino has done so many times during his eclectic yet short career, he never stayed the same for too long; the moment he showed enough of his heart he’d transition to percussively heavy tracks like “All the Shine” and “LES.” And when all else became too slow, Childish Gambino showed his virtuosity on “You See Me;” he completely tore through the paced verses while running from side to side and speaker to speaker, as if his lungs were double the size of a normal human’s. Glover’s true ability as a performer and artist lies in his willingness, or inability to be consistent; while on stage he’s nerdy, swagged out, happy, angry, hood and the farthest thing from it, all at the same time; this unique and lovable characteristic relates him to a wide spectrum of fans, and the diverse group of people that filled Central Park’s lawn last night represents this specialty.

-Kevin Shea (@kevinnshea)