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Archive for May, 2011

(Editor’s Note: This piece appears on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out here)

Rap, for all its variations, is a genre of conventions. A boastful MC makes his name with frank lyricism and flow. By that standard, Donald Glover is a rapper. The 27-year-old Georgia native, known when rapping as Childish Gambino, gleefully rhymes about girls, pop culture and fame with unparalleled whit. What sets him apart, however, is that rap is arguably Glover’s hobby, a well-received side project. As a day job, he costars in the NBC sitcom Community along with performing as a comedian and actor. But don’t confuse his rap career for a playful distraction. Seriously, Glover wants it all.

In front of a sold-out crowd at The Bowery Ballroom, Glover performed his first of two New York City shows on the IAMDONALD tour. Double-billed as Donald Glover + Childish Gambino, the night promised a mix of stand-up comedy and rap. For the first part, Glover displayed his affable personality, telling a story about a chance encounter with Reggie Bush of the New Orleans Saints and joking about cast members on Community. As a comedian, he’s animated and silly, balancing impressions and observational humor. However, after about 30 minutes, the show moved from comedic to musical by way of a video clip in which Glover’s future self warns him not the rap. Much to the crowd’s approval, a future, future self convinces Glover that it is far worse not to rap, and cloaked in a red hoodie, Childish Gambino emerged.

Backed by a four-piece band, including a busy rhythm section and two multi-instrumentalists handling violin, guitar and keys, the second half of the show featured early mixtape offerings like “Bitch Look at Me Now (Two Weeks)” alongside newly minted hits like “Freaks and Geeks.” And although there isn’t yet a proper release for the Childish Gambino material, a surprisingly large number of fans knew the songs word for word. At the close, audience members chanted, “Fuck rap cool,” before Glover returned, shirtless, for a five-song encore, the first a freestyle aided by Roots drummer ?uestlove. And with fans showing adamant support for both the comedian and his rapping alter ego, Glover is sure to compromise neither pursuit.

An additional picture I took from the show after the jump: (more…)

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Afternoon Playtonics,

For those of you who don’t know, in addition to writing semi-daily for Playtonic Dialogues, I am also a contributing photographer and writer for The Bowery Presents The House List. Since moving to New York, I have written reviews for Animal Collective and Arcade Fire, as well as many other concerts produced at all New York venues currently booked by The Bowery Presents, including the Mercury Lounge, the Bowery Ballroom, Webster Hall, the Music Hall of Williamsburg, Terminal 5, the Brooklyn Bowl, and more… This month I will be contributing reviews for the following shows:

5/10: Donald Glover @ Bowery Ballroom

5/17: Lykke Li @ Webster Hall

Look out for my reviews and photos which will be on The Bowery Presents The House List as well as this site.

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Hey Y’all!

Have you heard the news? Playtonic Dialogues is now on Broadcastr(more…)

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(Editor’s Note: This piece appears on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out here)

Gold-chained, scantily clad women were grinding on frontman Kevin Barnes—dressed in drag with a flowered beret atop his head—and scores of masked luchadores engaged in choreographed wrestling matches, while silver-winged butterfly-like creatures proudly displayed their plumage and encased Barnes as spandex-wearing dancers hid behind an assortment of masks. Which is all to say that on Saturday night, Webster Hall was the epicenter of crazy, a hard-earned title in a city with no shortage of irrationality. The pageant of bizarre costumes and characters continued throughout the concert. If this were a lesser band, you could write off the stage production as a distraction. But as Of Montreal has displayed over the course of ten studio albums, most recently on False Priest, style and substance can coexist and can even complement each other.

On hyperliterate songs like “Coquet Coquette” and “Bunny Ain’t No Kind of Rider,” Barnes combined silver-tongued whit with preening and prancing. The result, while genuinely weird, was as endearing as the entire troupe’s energy was infectious. It felt life-affirming to see disparate craziness play out onstage with unrelenting enthusiasm. And at the end of the encore, featuring “A Sentence of Sorts in Kongsvinger” and “She’s a Rejector,” each band member crowd-surfed to the back of the audience only to return to the stage and sing “America the Beautiful” followed by a violin-led hoedown. It is this spirit of senseless fun that makes an Of Montreal show memorable, even if some details are lost.

Additional pictures I took from the show after the jump:  (more…)

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