Donald Glover/Childish Gambino, 4.28.11

I bought a ticket to this show as an early birthday present to myself. Damn, I’m nice.

2011 has been the year of Me Having A Massive Crush on Donald Glover, and this show did not disappoint. DG/CG (read like CBGB) is basically the perfect man in my eyes. He’s smart, funny, and talented, but all of those basic positive adjectives to the nth degree. Exhibit A: He was hired straight out of college (NYU) to write for 30 Rock. Exhibit B: He left that show after three years of writing Tracy Morgan’s one-liners to pursue a standup comedy career. Exhibit C: He was cast on Community as Troy. Exhibit D: He decided to start experimenting with rap, thanks to a serendipitously awesome rap name generated here. Exhibit E: He’s 27 years old right now.

I mean, just look at him. He’s one of those super-young, super-hot, super-talented people that come around every so often and (sorta) make the rest of us feel shitty for not having accomplished much yet. But the “sorta” is because this guy deserved 200% of the success and praise he’s getting. He’s a rockstar in the best sense of the word, and last night’s show at the Fillmore showcased all of his talents—and all of his potential, too.

He started off the night with a hilarious non-sensical slideshow, wherein he underscored the theme of the evening: It was his show, and he could say (or sing, or rap) whatever the FUCK he wanted. And that’s what happened. He came out for about 45 minutes and did standup, but it never really felt like standup because he got involved with the crowd and conversed with front-row creepers, like this one girl who managed to draw something he had talked about not five minutes earlier. His standup is so real and honest and fun, because he’s being exactly himself—a fun-loving, semi-hard-partying, intelligent 27-year old with a curious, observant head on his shoulders. He talks about his celebrity friends, like Danny Pudi and Reggie Bush, not because he’s name-dropping, but because it just makes sense! That’s who he hangs out with, that’s who he’s come to spend his time with, and that’s our familiarity with him. He’s got such a sweet innocence about him, in the sense that he’s not jaded by showbusiness or celebrity. It’s (prepare for my favorite word here) refreshing.

But we all know that Donald Glover is a funny guy. It’s how he made his name. The second half of the show, therefore, was probably intended for him but was even more impressive than the first. His alter-ego, Childish Gambino, allows him to explode on stage, taking over the space with a different kind of energy, a rapper’s swagger that isn’t necessarily gangster but isn’t a put-on, either. He can get away with it, sure, but he’s really saying something up there with his rhymes. Obviously he’s got a long way to go before he “perfects” his rap, for lack of a better term—most of the rhymes are couplets, for example—but his range of beats and lyrics is incredible. He’s also got a really nice singing voice and an envious falsetto range (i.e., he can do his own R&B bits). Here’s a brilliant sample of his poetry on “Freaks and Geeks” off his EP (which you can download here:

I have worked all winter, I will not fail summer
In the back of her bush like Gavin Rosedale’s drummer
Yeah, my stinger’s in her flower, I hope she let me pollinate
Workin’ hard as shit, yeah this beat is made from concentrate

Nigga, can’t you tell that my sample of Adele
Was so hot I got these hood niggas blowin’ up my cell?
Swag out the ass, I’m the man, fuck Chico
Took the G out your waffle, all you got left is your ego

It’s just so… fresh! Not in that silly ironic way that the kids are using these days. Or maybe that is how I mean it? I don’t know. He speaks a certain relatable, witty truth in this song, and in all of his songs thus far. I’d like to say he makes “nerd rap,” but that isn’t necessarily a fair term. He does indeed call himself a black nerd, but he’s incredibly hip at the same time. Or maybe I’m the one who thinks that liking strange, specific stuff and making tight pop culture references is “hip” and not “nerdy.” To each their own. In any case, I can’t wait to see what’s next from Donald Glover. Oh, and I’m proud to be a Gambino Girl.

The Black Crowes @ the Fillmore, 12.15.08

Remember how The Man used to say that rock ‘n’ roll was the devil’s music? I’d love to see The Man at a Black Crowes concert, because he’d probably get confused. Chris Robinson looks a lot like Jesus, except the flowing robe only goes to his waist, so he can show off his marijuana-leaf-patchwork jeans.

But seriously, if rock ‘n’ is actually the devil’s music, then we’re all screwed. That means I probably committed myself to purgatory right around the time I saw Tina Turner in concert (I was a hardcore 4th grader). And you know what? I love every minute of it. All the awesome people will be in hell, anyway. Join the party.

I have to say, I’m pretty pissed that this band is considered a “stoner band” by the almighty Wikipedia. I mean, there were people lighting up everywhere, so to say that they’re a band that attracts stoners might not be far from the truth. But this music is the real truth, and you don’t need to be high to appreciate it (Pink Floyd, anyone?). I never got to experience the 70s but I imagine the Black Crowes is the closest I’ll ever get. That’s a compliment, too. Most of my music library consists of my parents’ music, because it was truly better back then, and these guys stepped right over the monotonous drone of whatever’s on the radio and put soul and funk back into rock.

It’s difficult to go to a concert and enjoy yourself unless you know the songs. Come on, admit it. You have to be completely obsessed with music to go in cold-turkey and come out a die-hard fan. I’ve done it only a few times in my life, mostly because you appreciate the nuances of the live performance when you go in knowing what the studio recording sounds like. I knew only 2 songs in this set, but it didn’t matter. Every song was groovy and infectious in its own right, and the white-bread audience gave their own dance moves a try.

Chris Robinson doesn’t have Frontman Syndrome, which is refreshing. His delicate claps, mild feet and scattered hip-shakes are endearing, honest and just enough to command the stage without dominating it. With that voice, he doesn’t even need to try. His baritone wail is best when belted unrestrained, and results are explosive. I only wish I could catch a glimpse of his face, because it would be easier to see that truth I was talking about before. The rest of the Crowes are phenomenal musicians, perhaps under-appreciated because of that silly “stoner” label.

So here’s the setlist, courtesy of I hope to own all of these songs one day…
Goodbye Daughters Of The Revolution
Jam -> Black Moon Creeping
Greasy Grass River
Chevrolet -> Jam
Paint An 8
Walk Believer Walk
Forty Four Blues -> Jam
Locust Street
How Much For Your Wings -> Jam
Waiting Guilty
She Gave Good Sunflower
Movin’ On Down The Line
By Your Side
(Only) Halfway To Everywhere
Wounded Bird
– encore –
She Talks To Angels
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Colin Meloy, 4.30.08

probably one of the best birthday presents i’ve ever gotten (although it was from myself…to myself). i give colin major kudos for planning this one well. anyway. i got to the show late, but from what i heard of the opener (laura gibson), i didn’t miss much.

all eyes were on colin: witty, cute, intelligent colin. he played a personalized, acoustic set of decemberists-through-the-ages, perhaps an homage to the cancelled The Long and the Short of It tour last winter. the set included “the perfect crime #2,” “shiny,” “the apology song,” part of “the island,” a couple new songs, and my personal prediction, “the mariner’s revenge song.” having seen this one performed live, complete with papier-mache whale, crazy percussion, and general shenanigans that can’t really be described in words:

i was quite impressed that colin was able to carry this one alone. granted, he had some help from the audience, but that was entirely the fun part. gibson came out for a duet, which sadly was not “yankee bayonet,” but i got over it. i just wanted to share the wealth.