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October 21, 2014

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Five thoughts about Childish Gambino’s Boulevard Pool concert at the Cosmo

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John Gurzinski

Does Childish Gambino look familiar to you? That’s because he plays Troy Barnes on the NBC comedy Community.

1. Childish Gambino—aka 30 Rock writer and Community actor Donald Glover—has brought a four-piece band and a DJ with him for tonight’s Cosmo show. He steps onstage in a black T-shirt with the word “Fad” in big letters. Who, you? Nawwww.

2. The 2,000-plus-strong crowd is hanging on Gambino’s every word. Not only do they appreciate his wit-hop lyrics, they know them by heart. And it’s one of the most diverse crowds I’ve seen at a Cosmo show: out-of-towners, UNLV students, 20-somethings in thick-rimmed glasses and cool parents with even cooler kids. In the elevator, a woman talks about bringing her daughter to the show. “I think he’s some kind of actor …”

3. One track opens with a violin solo. On another, the whole band picks up sticks, drumming us into a frenzy. Then Gambino is singing Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” By the time he breaks into “Heartbeat,” even security is dancing.

4. Chants of “Gam-bi-no! Gam-bi-no!” bring him back for an encore. “You guys are beautiful. This is f*cking dope,” he says. And he’s right. The weather is amazing; the crowd is bouncing; and then, as if things could get any better, the pool suddenly smells like bacon. Perfection.

5. Shirtless and jumping, Gambino closes with “Lights Turned On,” a testosterone-filled flirt fest of a rap. If we were expecting any of Troy Barnes’ lovable quirkiness tonight, it’s not here. This is Gambino, and the kid’s all grown up.

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