Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES FILM ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES TV ARCHIVES

A Delightfully Scatological Outtake from This Week’s Cover Story, Starring Donald Glover and Writing Partner DC Pierson

For this week’s cover story, Bill Jensen shadowed comedian/actor/emo rapper Donald Glover. For your enjoyment, we present this deleted scene.

Donald Glover is in Austin preparing to host the MTV Woodies–an “awards” show which is really just an excuse to gather a bunch of bands and to represent MTV at SXSW. Glover has brought the shaggy-haired Pierson to be his writing partner and help him with the script for the one-hour show.

Foo Fighters are performing soundcheck, and Tyler from Odd Future just picked up a guy in a chicken suit onstage and slammed him to the ground, possibly breaking his arm.

Glover has come back from hair and makeup, sporting skinny dress pants, a tight blue shirt, and a skinny blue tie. He heads to the bathroom inside his dressing room and shuts the door. His entourage–PR man Dan Wiener, manager Greg Walter, and college-pal-turned-writing-partner DC Pierson–begin to debate if MTV is going to feed them tonight.

Probably not.

Dan Wiener: “Pizza?”

DC Pierson: “Nah. [Pause] What about that sandwich place?”

Voice from inside the bathroom: “Sandwich place is dope.”

DC [at the bathroom]: “Is that a piece of shit talking?”

Voice from inside the bathroom: “Yes, flush me.”

DC: “When you get flushed, do you die?”

Voice from inside the bathroom: “Nah, you just chill.”

A flush is heard from the bathroom.

Voice from inside the bathroom: “Bye.”

Glover exits the bathroom with a smile, and the conversation somehow turns to perhaps the most epic of all nerd arguments: DC vs. Marvel (“Marvel is more human,” says Glover), then to the most recent important nerd debate–the finale to Lost. These guys are funny. They are charming. And they are fucking nerds.

Donald Glover videos

The student-film-as-revenge epic “Girls Are Not To Be Trusted”

The uncomfortable racial stylings of “National Spelling Bee”

“Jazz Man”

DC Pierson
DC Pierson
Categories
COMEDY ARCHIVES CULTURE ARCHIVES Media NYC ARCHIVES

Donald Glover Is More Talented Than You

Red sweatshirt hood pulled tightly over his head, brown leather jacket wrapped tightly around his torso, fresh whiskey sour sweating in his hand, Donald Glover peels his way through the packed crowd in the upstairs lounge at the Lower East Side bar Pianos to the area where a lifesize panda, peering from behind a giraffe, pig, and monkey in a display window above the stairs, is staring at him.

The previous night, the 27-year-old recorded his first hour-long comedy special, Weirdo, at two sold-out shows at the 500-capacity Union Square Theatre. He flew his family in to watch. His younger brother, Stephen, Tweeted after the performance from the bar: “Watching two women fight over my brother, LOL.” Glover didn’t go home with either of them—he went home instead with a woman he calls “the Holy Grail,” the one he tried and failed to get the entire time he lived in New York, before bolting to Hollywood two years ago.

“Why now?” Glover asks no one in particular, turning his back on the panda—its eerie eyes staring like some sort of harbinger of ill times—and gazing into the mass of bodies writhing in the center of the room, speaking as if to the Holy Grail herself. “What changed that you’re making out with me now?”

What changed is that Donald Glover is blowing up.

Donald Glover, the black hipster from Stone Mountain, Georgia, who landed a gig writing for 30 Rock while still an R.A. at NYU. Donald Glover, the former Jehovah’s Witness who penned some of Tracy Morgan’s most classic lines as idiot savant Tracy Jordan, only to leave his Emmy-winning writing job for California and quickly snag the role of Troy Barnes, the clueless jock, on the NBC show Community. Donald Glover, the asthmatic nerd who remixed Sufjan Stevens’s Illinoise album into a dreamy, chill hip-hop record and whose latest rap EP, released under the moniker Childish Gambino, has been downloaded 150,000 times. Donald Glover, the guy whose viral videos as the part of Derrick Comedy team have been watched 200 million times and counting.

This week, Glover embarks on the first large-scale mash-up of all of his abilities in the “I Am Donald” tour—a live show for the ADD generation that combines hip-hop, comedy, and viral sketch video. He will tour 23 cities in 33 days, including stops at the Bowery Ballroom on May 10 and Williamsburg Music Hall on May 14—both shows sold out in three hours.

Ten years ago, “I Am Donald” could never have happened. Handlers and brand managers may have allowed a guy who played a lovable character on a popular mainstream network TV show to perform hardcore, dirty-mouth stand-up, and even dirtier emo-rap—but they would have insisted he do it all on a separate stage. But the transparency and immediacy of the Web makes it possible for Glover to avoid cutting his talent into tiny pieces for his different audiences. In a sense, he has spun the TV-personality paradigm on its head—his persona is what people see on the Web, and the TV show is merely an extension.

“Because of Twitter, people don’t go to my shows expecting Troy to rap,” says Glover, a reference to problems other performers have encountered, like Andy Kaufman facing crowds that only wanted him to be his Latka character from Taxi.

When Glover randomly Tweeted that he wanted to audition for the role of Spider-Man in the Marc Webb reboot of the franchise, the Twitterverse began a campaign to make it so. (See Donald Glover’s 10 Favorite Nerd Things.) Even if it was just PC diplomacy, both creator Stan Lee and Ultimate Spider-Man writer Brian Michael Bendis said they approved. Alas, he didn’t audition, and the role went to Andrew Garfield. It was probably for the best—because even though he claims he needs just three hours of sleep a night, Glover is running at breakneck speed, criss-crossing the country fueled by ambition and whiskey and girls, heading toward a moving target that is flashing either “Next Big Thing” or “Next Tragic Hero”—all depending on how the next year plays out.

It’s nearly midnight at Pianos. When he made his way through the bar downstairs, he received countless hugs from male fans. Most knew him from the television series, others knew him from the viral videos. A select few know his raps. A lot of people know him from Twitter, which he checks constantly on his iPhone throughout the night.

Glover checks his Twitter again. There are way too many bros under the tight ceiling of Pianos’ second floor. He asks Twitter—”In NYC, where should I go right now to drink?”

After getting numerous responses of “My bed,” from lady followers, he migrates down the street to Darkroom, where a follower promises “saucy bitches.”

Glover leads his family caravan down Ludlow into the blackness that is the Darkroom. His brother comments on how damn cold it is. Glover enters the room and immediately realizes—this is where all the women on the Lower East Side have been hiding. It’s a long way from Stone Mountain.

A suburb of Atlanta, Stone Mountain sits in the shadow of a large relief sculpture of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson carved in the side of the mountain of the same name. It is the place where the Ku Klux Klan was rebooted in 1915—and Martin Luther King references it in his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech.

There was a television in the Glover household, but the kids, being raised Jehovah’s Witness, were not allowed to watch it. So Glover would take his Talkboy, record the audio of episodes of The Simpsons, wait until bedtime, and listen to them as he lay in his bed. (He would later write a spec script for The Simpsons in which Homer is arrested for stealing a single song off the Internet and taken to court by the RIAA, where he must face his victims, Hall & Oates.)

His parents, mother Beverly and postal-worker father Donald Sr.—contrary to what you might read on the Internet, Glover is not the son of Lethal Weapon actor Danny Glover—were also foster parents, which meant a steady stream of kids entered Glover’s home.

Glover says he was happy growing up, but always had a fear that something would go wrong—that something bad would happen around the next corner. “I was the type of kid—I felt like I was always being blamed for things that weren’t my fault. So I always wanted things to go smoothly. And growing up in the South, people didn’t like me because I was black. And it took on this thing: I’m gonna be me so much, and be sooo likeable, that I will change their minds. And I know now that that’s impossible. But I had to try.”

The kids who would come through his front door had often been through a lot already in their lives. When his parents brought home a child who had been molested, they had to explain to Glover that the boy needed a lot more attention. As a kid, Glover remembers asking himself, “What about me?”

So he would do anything to get his parents’ attention—puppet shows, plays, skateboarding.

For a while, he was the only black kid in his school. A black kid who liked the Muppets and Korn. A good student but a disruption in class, he migrated to the DeKalb School of the Arts, where he starred in plays like 42nd Street and Pippen, and then used his performing as a way to escape Georgia to New York for school.

“NYU is like a Jurassic 5 concert—there are supposed to be black people there, but there aren’t,” Glover says in his stand-up. Studying dramatic writing in the hopes of being a playwright, he began performing in sketch comedy troop Hammerkatz, where he met current writing partners DC Pierson and Dominic Dierkes. The three split off to start Derrick Comedy with director Dan Eckman.

The sketches of Derrick are teeming with frat-boy, racial, and homoerotic humor. But underneath the dick and fart jokes is a sincerity that makes them work.

In even the smallest roles in the sketches, Glover’s star power is evident. But it’s the ones in which he takes the lead that you’re likely to wet yourself, such as the student-film-as-revenge epic “Girls Are Not to Be Trusted” and the most popular Derrick sketch, “Bro Rape: A Newsline Investigative Report,” a Dateline send-up involving Natty Ice–drinking, Jack Johnson–listening male predators.

And then there’s “Jerry,” in which Glover plays a high school student who tries to fart but accidentally shits his pants in class, then spends the rest of the sketch trying to pass it off a million different ways while bawling his eyes out. It’s ridiculous and over-the-top, but there is a believability and earnestness in Glover’s performance that makes you care for him. At that point, we are all that kid. And it’s a microcosm of Glover’s range—wild and heartfelt . . . with poop.

Glover landed in New York a virgin who had never tasted alcohol. His first drink took place in a dorm room at NYU’s Brittany Hall as a sophomore. He sat in the corner of a room full of people, his hoodie pulled over his head, debating the whole night whether to take a swig or not. When he finally did, he thought for sure he might die—the fears that nagged him while growing up ruling over a lot of what he did.

In his junior year, he lost his virginity—to another R.A. in his dorm. Never having been in any kind of intimate relationship before, he was unsure of what to do when the deed was done. Was he going to have to marry this girl? But she told him, “No, it was just fun. It doesn’t mean anything.” “Doesn’t mean anything?” Glover thought to himself. “Oh, OK.”

It was then that the Childish Gambino was born.

He had been mixing beats since freshman year with a ripped version of Fruity Loops, but now he began rapping over them with rhymes about girls and love. The name “Childish Gambino” popped up on a Wu-Tang Clan name-generator site, so he kept it and put the first tracks on tape.

He can go from a suck-a-dick verse (“When rappers start rappin’ over indie shit/Just remember I was first to hit this shit”) to a child just trying to fit in (“I coulda been a tragedy/That’s why these fake niggas who call me ‘pussy’ are ‘mad’ at me/’Cause they ain’t have the smarts or the heart/Ain’t you read the fuckin’ book, Things Fall Apart?”) to a wailing, hopeless, and hurting romantic (“I don’t wanna be alone/’Cause you know/Somewhere inside/I cannot find/The feeling I got from you”).

It’s a bit schizophrenic—but much like how Glover doesn’t separate his TV persona from his Web persona, he doesn’t care to compartmentalize. For this, he has his detractors. Satirical cultural critic Hipster Runoff teased him by wondering if the “blipster” is too eager to “make it as a buzz band” (in a review of a Voice review). The AV Club picked apart his album Culdesac as “a collection of good ideas that still need to be finessed into a strong statement,” attacking the wild range of emotions and personality from song to song. But that’s exactly the point. “Fuck Rap Cool,” the hashtag Glover often adds to his Tweets, is the one tattoo to be etched on him at this stage in his career.

In his raps, he makes frequent mention of his manhood. His propensity for thick women, particularly of Asian descent, is well-documented, and on one track he gives a shout-out to e.e. cummings—you can fill in the rest. But in between, he’s rapping about alienation, trying to fit in, getting girls to like him. Nerdy emo with a fro. Name-dropping Greedo and Inspector Gadget one minute, then laying something like, “Whiskey-sippin’/Wanna drink the whole bottle/But these smart middle-class black kids need a role model” the next.

“So many black kids Tweeted me about that line,” says Glover. “This is the first time in history we are able to talk about alienation and nerd things. Black kids do like white stuff. Arcade Fire were at the top of iTunes—it ain’t all white people listening to them.” He represents a new archetype of entertainer—a black nerd who can like white stuff. Not a black nerd in the over-the-top Steve Urkel or Dwayne Wayne sense, but a regular black guy who likes the same stuff white people like—but just happens to be more talented than you.

The black middle-class kid is a real thing. Earlier that night, before heading to Pianos, around the table of Boka Bon Chon with his two biological siblings, brother Stephen and sister Brianne, and high school friend Lauren, the conversation turns to race—who can say the N-word and who can’t. “He was voiced by a black dude,” he wonders out loud. “So is it OK for Darth Vader to say the N-word?” He quickly Tweets the question out to the world.

“During the whole Spider-Man thing, the only thing that ever hurt my feelings was this one comment. The guy said, ‘Look, I love you. I think you’re great. But let’s be honest: There are no black kids like Peter Parker,’ ” he says, shaking his head. “There are!”

And Glover will let us all in on a little secret: His first taste of rap wasn’t NWA. Or Run-D.M.C. Or even Eminem. No, his first taste of rap was guys like Fred Durst.

“They say there’s no place in hip-hop if you’re in the suburbs,” he says. “Kanye is a suburban kid. The struggle is finding your place.”

While in his senior year at NYU, Glover got an e-mail from David Miner with the message “I heard you write.” Miner had gotten his name from Tina Fey, who got it from Amy Poehler, who got it from his teacher at Upright Citizens Brigade.

They asked him for some writing samples. He sent the spec script he wrote for The Simpsons, along with one for Everybody Hates Chris, along with some sketches he had written.

Miner and 30 Rock co-creator Fey liked them. Not yet having graduated from NYU, he was now a writer on 30 Rock.

While Glover is often cited as a driving force behind a lot of Tracy Morgan’s best lines, his first joke to make it on the show was a punchline for Kenneth, the white hayseed NBC page—whom he says he actually most identifies with, if anything because of the fact that both (fictional white clueless guy and real black nerdy guy) hail from the same town: Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Eager to perform as well as write, Glover started doing stand-up. In the beginning, he took advice from Tracy Morgan: “Talk about penises—dudes loves that.” And later, advice from Chris Rock: “What the hell was that!? It looked like you went onstage and said ‘dick’ for 45 minutes.”

Meanwhile, he continued to mix beats and rap and, with his Derrick partners, produced and starred in the Encyclopedia Brown send-up indie film Mystery Team. But he wanted more. In 2008, he auditioned to play Obama as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, but didn’t get the part. At the end of the third season of 30 Rock, he told Fey he wanted out. She gave him her blessing, and he left the most stable and secure thing he had, packed up the Derrick team in a two-car caravan, and headed to L.A., moving to Beverly Hills Adjacent, in an apartment building that also housed a brothel and a dentist’s office.

Then he got a call from Community. The character of Troy was actually written for a white guy, but he made it his own. Troy was also originally supposed to be paired up on the show with Chevy Chase’s character, Pierce, but it was clear early on that Glover’s Troy would enjoy a heated bromance with Danny Pudi’s film-school geek, Abed.

“It was pretty immediate,” says Pudi of the connection as he watches Glover’s band set up for a show on the cracked concrete outdoor patio of Austin’s Red 7 bar. “Both characters do things at 150 percent,” from bonding over Kickpuncher to building a dorm-wide blanket fort. Pudi has come down to Austin to party and hang with his friend and watch him perform. The line to get into the club on 7th Street stretches down the block, a diverse mix of b-boys and hipsters and normal-looking folk excited to see the guy from Community.

Glover appears from backstage wearing a vintage-looking red Coca-Cola T-shirt, tight jeans, and green-and-white Adidas. (See our review of the show, “Live: Donald Glover Gets Emo as Childish Gambino During SXSW.”) He is going solo tonight—his writing partner Pierson is back in L.A.—but I ask him if Pierson ever sealed the deal with a cute chick he was talking up before the Woodies a few nights ago.

“Which chick?” he asks, confused.

“The cute blond chick he was rapping to,” I answer.

“Oh, that one,” Glover says loudly with a smile. “No, I hooked up with that chick.”

“But DC was killing it!” I say incuriously.

“I know DC was killing it!” he retorts, and then says sincerely and unapologetically: “But I have money.”

He’s not saying it to be a dick—that was just the dynamic. “We started talking about money, and she was like, ‘So you think money is evil?’ and I’m like, ‘Money isn’t evil.’ But I could see dollar signs in her eyes.”

“So does she keep texting you?” I ask.

“Nah,” says he with a bigger smile. “I asked for her number first. I always ask for their number first. They see you put it into the phone and they’re like, ‘OK, he’s doing it,’ but . . .” his big smile turns into a sheepish grin. “Yeah, I’m a little girl-crazy.” (“He’s a silent assassin that way,” Pudi remarks later about his sitcom partner’s prowess.)

Glover, talking in a tone between a hush and a whisper as he tries to save his voice, goes back to his MacBook on the side of the stage to work on arrangements for the show.

He has told his entourage that now is the time to strike. When most performers usually wrap a TV show, they take a holiday. But he is charging ahead. The week of SXSW, he wedged a Chicago performance on Friday in between the Wednesday’s mtvU Woodie Awards, Thursday’s unexpected cameo at the Voice/Wu-Tang show at the Austin Music Hall, and Saturday’s show at Red 7. Then he’s going to do another gig in Texas, one in a church in Atlanta, up to New York for the Comedy Central taping, then Virginia, back to Texas, up to Arkansas. Nonstop. Why the rush?

“Funny you should ask, because we were just talking about that,” says Glover’s manager, Greg Walter, as we eye Glover talking to the band on the stage. “For the past three months, I have not been calling him saying, ‘Take this job.’ I am usually calling him saying, ‘Don’t take this job—you need rest.’ I get worried because he doesn’t sleep enough. I tell him to slow down, and he says, ‘You know what, I’m 26, 27—I can do it now.’ ”

Pudi, who looks decidedly healthy and rested in a military cap and fresh face, walks up to the side of the stage. Glover sees him and flashes a smile.

“Are you alive?” Pudi yells, leaning his body across the stage.

Glover, still resting his voice, holds up his pointer and thumb, pinched with little space in between.

Just barely.

The previous week had been one of the biggest in Glover’s career.

On Tuesday, March 8, he released the new Childish Gambino EP. Over the next four days, he was on the set of Community as they tried to finish shooting the second season before the weekend. He wove press interviews about Childish Gambino in between takes, and after each day’s wrap went back to his studio to remix some more songs and put them on the Web. At night, he was preparing for the Comedy Central special as well as working on slides for the “I Am Donald” tour. He spent eight hours on Saturday, March 12, covered in orange paint for the last day of shooting for Community. (They are revisiting a paintball theme.) 5-Hour Energy. Whiskey. Remixing. Girls. Bits and beats flowing through his head that needed to be captured on his iPhone. Writing a new song for the Woodies. Sunday was a Community goodbye get-together followed by performing at his regular Sunday-night comedy show, Shitty Jobs.

Three hours of sleep over the previous 48, Glover finally found his bed at 5 a.m. on Monday morning for some semblance of a proper rest.

He woke up three hours later, stumbled into the bathroom of his new Silver Lake home, and started throwing up.

He didn’t drink any whiskey the night before. It wasn’t food poisoning, either. It was the pace. His work—from the clueless jock Troy on Community to the indie rapper Childish Gambino to his black-nerd stand-up—constantly needing to be fed, had just left his flesh in its wake.

“My body was just done,” says Glover, safe in Austin. “My left arm was numb. I had to stop and sit down.”

Everyone—from his manager to his mother to his Gambino co-producer—wants him to slow down. He even raps about them telling him to slow down. But he’s not having it.

“You don’t get to where all my heroes were without giving up a part of who you are,” he says. “Right now, I refuse to even have a dog. No girlfriend. I don’t want anything tying me down. I want to be everywhere. I don’t see a limit for me. I want to do everything. I never thought I was this type of person: Have a good time, not a long time. As a kid, I was always afraid of dying.” But now, he’s driving full-speed. Pushing himself. He crashes. He gets back up. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Onstage at Red 7, you can see some ill effects of the pace at which Glover is living. His voice cracks in certain places, which he acknowledges, giving the crowd a look of promise that it will get better. He refuses to use Auto-Tune—the product of his performing-arts background—and it just adds to the sincerity of his delivery. On the last song, his best song, “Not Going Back,” he encapsulates all he wants to say.

Couldn’t see me as Spider-Man, but now I’m spittin’ venom
Now you payin’ attention, pick your fuckin’ face up
When I wanna be a superhero, I just wake up
Renaissance man with a Hollywood buzz
I refuse to go back to not likin’ who I was

He is currently writing two movies. He just signed on for a part in The Hand Job, and will have a cameo in the James Bobin/Jason Segel Muppets movie coming out this fall. These are all just Lego blocks of the nerd fortress Glover wants to construct.

“If one day, I can be a neo–Michael Jackson, I want that. I don’t know if it is possible for someone to be that big anymore. But I want that.”

And it’s not as if he is looking for Elephant Man bones or backyard amusement parks. Money—even if it can land him cute girls he might have already gotten anyway—is not what’s changed him. And it’s not what he’s after.

He’s after power.

“Power is what allows you to do whatever you want,” he says, getting energized again. “If Will Smith wanted to play Hitler, they’d make that movie. That’s power. I want to do a Nazi movie. I want Jay-Z and Eminem to rap on the same track with me. I’m in it for the power.”

It’s 3:45 at Darkroom. His brother and sister went home hours ago. But as the bar begins to shut down, Glover heads off into the night with a tiny Filipino girl on his arm. When he reaches the corner of 8th and Broadway, he peers across the street and sees something moving behind a window inside the Bank of America ATM lobby.

He squints to get a better look, and spots a two-backed monster crawling over itself. The girl propped up on the deposit-slip counter, her stiletto heels in the air, her partner thrusting. Glover immediately posts photos of the public sex from his iPhone, giving a play-by-play to the world.

He chronicles the entire tryst, makes a judgment call on its conclusion, and shoots one last photo of the two lovers hailing a cab.

“The most passionate thing I’ve ever seen!” he Tweets.

He puts the phone away and walks his new friend back to her place, where he drops her off with a kiss. The sun starting to rise, he heads south to the Bowery. He’s got another gig in Virginia in just a few hours. He might be able to snag a couple hours of sleep.

Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES

Live: Donald Glover Gets Emo as Childish Gambino During SXSW

I Am Donald Tour (Donald Glover/Childish Gambino)
Red 7 in Austin (SXSW)
Saturday, March 19

Fuck Rap Cool.

If there was any message Childish Gambino, the rap alter ego of actor/improv comedian/joke writer Donald Glover, wanted to relay to the audience at Red 7, it was that.

Fuck Rap Cool.

And Fuck Indie Cool.

And Fuck Hipster Cool. And fuck any other notion of cool that doesn’t let you be comfortable in your skin.

Backed by a full band (including violin player), the former NYU RA from Stone Mountain, Georgia takes the stage in tight jeans, red Coca-Cola vintage tee, and rips into chest-puffer “Freaks and Geeks” from the Childish Gambino EP he released March 8. The first mention of the size of his dick makes the women in the middle of the pit scream, but it’s the end of the song that marks the theme for the night. Tacking on a new chorus, Glover gets the crowd of hipsters, b-boys, and the girls who dragged their friends with the promise of seeing the guy from Community to chant “Fuck Rap Cool” at end of “Freaks.” Rainbow Coalition throwing their hands up in the air to fuck all pretense. All conformity.

People have called Glover’s Gambino “emo rap” and it’s not all that far off. There’s pain there. Alienation. Pining for girls. Being called “faggot
 by other black guys.” But Glover’s message is slightly schizophrenic, moving from lines about emotional distance (“It seems the more I try to connect with the world/
I am feeling more alone than I ever have felt before”) to hardcore swagger (“I’m a sick boy, nigga”). “When I cough I hope you catch it/My germs in your system, now you coughin’ like asthmatic” which Glover raps, over a Sleigh Bells’ “Infinity Guitars,” on the crunchy “The Real.”

The official SXSW program has tonight’s performance slated 50 minutes longer than the usual hour and listed as “IAMDONALD.” The plan was to do 20 minutes of stand-up, followed by a ten-minute video sketch, which would then lead into an hour of music, all meant to showcase the triple threat that is Glover–stand up, sketch comedy, and rap. But there wasn’t a long enough video cord at Red 7, which meant a little less silliness and lot more rawness. He is slightly apologetic.

“I can’t believe you guys support me and shit,” Glover says during a break. “If Dane Cook had a [music show]–I wouldn’t be there.”

He starts the ballad “I Don’t Want To Be Alone,” which shows off his falsetto–a falsetto Glover rocks with no AutoTune. His voice is imperfect, but ridiculously pure and honest. The mike cuts in and out in some songs, but he doesn’t bitch. His voice starts to give out at the end of “Alone”– the byproduct of a hectic SXSW schedule that also included hosting the Woodies, a special guest appearance at our very own showcase, with a concert in Chicago thrown in there too–but he saves it in time to nail the a cappela ending.

“Fuck Rap Cool” the crowd chants again.

Then it’s time for hipster cool to get a beatdown. “I don’t mind if you’re a hipster–you have to fucking dance,” Glover tells the crowd. “Nothing like going to a TV on the Radio show and going ‘Yeah, this is good,” he says mimicking all the people this week who’ve stared into their phones while the band onstage is tearing out their own hearts.

Just having fun.

Being him.

Dancing like no one is looking.

Fuck Rap Cool.

Glover, who’s spent the night bouncing around the stage like a jack rabbit-panther combination, walks off the stage exhausted, but does a quick turnaround and returns to the mike on the floor. He stumbles a bit as he picks it up, falling backwards before catching himself–like a guy falling into bed after just having a knee-crushing orgasms. “Wow,” he says, out of breath. “That was fun.”

Danny Pudi, Glover’s Community co-star who he shouted out his at the start of the show, is laying down the side-to-side head bob to the right of the stage. LA rapper Kendrick Lamar comes on to freestyle with Glover, and the two fit well together, Glover dropping references to Joel McHale, Rainbow Brite. “I’m being me to the tenth power,” he barks.

He ends the show with what is probably the best song on the new EP, “Not Going Back.”

You want a dude who keep it real, and stay hood
I’m sorry, babe, but I act me
I don’t act black, whatever that be
I’m just happy these girls seem into me now

He adds a new verse about the girls who never liked him. Who all want to fuck him. Who all want him to come back to bed. But he’s already given them what they wanted, and he’s working on new tracks, new bits.

As the crescendo builds and his rhymes get tighter, and the band gets faster and the crowd gets crazier, and Glover gets louder, he leashes into the quatrain that defines him and the night.

Now you payin’ attention, pick your fuckin’ face up
When I wanna be a superhero I just wake up
Renaissance man with a Hollywood buzz
I refuse to go back to not likin’ who I was

“Childish Gambino. I love you all.”

He throws the mike on the ground and walks off the stage.

Fuck Rap Cool.

New York reference of the night: “Mixed girls from Williamsburg, that’s my fucking Kryptonite.”

Overheard Oversmelled: To the guy at stage left who cut four distinct farts at four very even intervals, well done. Glover is a fan of the fart humor (just watch some Derrick videos), and he talented, but I don’t think he’s that far along for that kind of multi-platform crossover plan. If it was, then props.

Critical Bias: I am pretty sure that during an interview with Glover earlier in the week, I gave him that Rainbow Brite reference that he used while freestylin’ with Kendrick. (Update below.)

Mac, of course
Mac, of course
Categories
NEWS & POLITICS ARCHIVES Technology THE FRONT ARCHIVES

Mike Bloomberg Announces Mobile Tech Startup Investment, ‘MyCityWay’; Doesn’t Tell Arrington to F*ck Off

The mayor made a stop at New York’s hottest (read: most..current tech conference right now, TechCrunch Disrupt) a few minutes ago. Here’s what we learned:

]

  • Firstmark Capital is investing $300k in MyCityWay, which created the app NYC Way http://www.nycway.com/, winner of the NYC Big Apps competition. The company is now able to move to NY from Jersey. (Where they will burn through the $300k in two months)
  • He’s a “proud owner” of a new ipad: “It’s Amazing.”
  • Joked that before he took the stage, he updated his facebook page, posted a tweet, browsed Digg headlines, and posted a personal ad on Craiglist (insert Lebron joke here).
  • The next twitter “needs to be headquartered” in NY.
  • If you want to start a steel mill or grow corn, New York is not the place for you.
  • He’s “a big fan of quality media”. “An awful lot of the media has gone away from what the public wants to receive.” Uses The Economist as an example of how people will pay for content. Magazines are writing the same things everyone else is writing. Graphics have become more important than the words. He was probably referring to BusinessWeek.
  • Regarding how people read news: “You don’t know what is going to be important to you tomorrow. You want to hire someone who is going to make that decision for you. You can’t do that yourself.” He’s talking about editors…which kind of blew his Digg reference out of the water.
  • People won’t look at pop-up ads.
  • “Quality newspapers and magazines are still doing ok.”

His closing line: “Thank you all: Live in New York City” Given the way many TechCrunch attendees were wowed by Bloomberg’s Mickey Mouse-like stature to them, this is naturally a very real possibility in the foreseeable future.

Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES

I Saw Butterfly Explosion at SXSW and They Are Not a Band of Hippies

Butterfly Explosion
March 17
Habana, Austin, Texas

When you go see a band because they’re labeled “shoegaze,” you get a smile on your face when you see them set up 19 different foot pedals on the stage. You don’t need to double-check your SXSW schedule. You know you’re in the right place.

Butterfly Explosion‘s sound is not nearly as sonically sophisticated as My Bloody Valentine, but falls into a comfortably poppy atmospheric area that might actually get them played on an episode of Gossip Girl. A call back to Nowhere-era Ride. Few vocals. Lots of crunchy guitars, cymbals, and a swirling keyboard somewhere in the back. Long drawn-out three chord song beginnings. Long, drawn out three-chord song endings.

The Dublin-based fivesome landed in the States last week, playing tiny gigs in Philly and New York before hitting Texas. “We have massive potential,” says lead singer and guitarist Gazz Carr, 28, over a lager after the show. (It sounded way less douchey when he said it.) “But we’re only starting out. It’s only a start, but the foundation is being laid.” Carr, who works a day job in government back in Dublin, funded the band’s two-weeks-old debut full-length, Lost Trails. With the Silversun Pickups whetting the alternative crowd’s appetite, these give might actually find a niche in America—and more than just an excuse to listen to something new after wearing out your ears again on Nowhere or Souvlaki.

Austin vs. Glasto: SXSW is “like going to Glastonbury, except it’s clean, comfortable” says Gazz, who will probably the only person who will describe Austin this week as “clean and comfortable.”

The crowd 8:1 male, yet not one, but two sets of women cuddling in the crowd.

How the audience found them: Woman in front said Facebook told her to come, based on her favorite bands, most notably Smashing Pumpkins.

Obligatory Shoegazing Shoe report: Bassist wore Chuck Taylors, both guitarists had black Adidas. Keyboardist wore short leather boots. Drummer played in socks.

Worst name at SXSW: When you text all your friends about which band you are about to see, you will undoubtedly leave out the name of this band, as it is quite possibly the worst name in all of SXSW, beating out Rainbow Disruption and Unicorns Are Pretty. As Voice web editor Camille Dodero texted me last night, “Where’s your Butterfly Exploding Ass?” Stay classy, Dodero.

Set List:

Chemistry
Sophia
Vision
Tracing Stars
Carpark
Turn in You
Crash
Automatic

Butterfly Explosion will be playing Rileys Music From Ireland showcase at 1pm on Friday and the Red 7 Goodbye South-By party at 4:45pm on Sunday.

Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES

SXSW: Kanye West “Surprise” Show at the Fader Fort

Backstage at the Fader Fort, half of the Voice team escaped to the Shockhound.com/Hot Topic trailer, hiding out from Kanye West’s security, who swept through the backstage area at 7:25 and removed everyone without an all-access pass. When the coast was clear, we emerged and watched as West introduced and performed with a bunch of G.O.O.D. artists, as well as Common and Erykah Badu. More info later.

Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES

SXSW: Perry Farrell plays solo show, Janes members don’t show, guy in back holds up middle finger for half of the show

Perry Farrell
Pangea
March 21, 2009

One guitarist, one bongo player, one Powerbook, one wife, two go-go dancers, and Perry Farrell.

Danced-up versions of Farrell’s songs, which were not half bad, but the crowd was not in the mood to dance. A guy toward the back of the room held up his middle finger for the first half of the show. “Jane Says” for an encore, during which Farrell invited a guy with a “Jane Says” t-shirt onstage, who was as happy as a guy in a “Jane Says” t-shirt onstage with Perry Farrell.

Perry and wife Etty Lau Farrell

Perry with "Jane Says" fan.
Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES

SXSW: GZA Onstage with Black Lips at Emo’s

SXSW: GZA with Black Lips at Emos, Friday, March 21

Black Lips walked on to “Liquid Swords” with GZA’s voice booming from the back room. When he came out, the crowd went apeshit. The rest of my notes: “This is a trainwreck.”

Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES

SXSW: Colourmusic and the Shape

IT’S FINALLY-EMPTYING-OUR-SXSW-MEMORY-CARDS FRIDAY

Colourmusic, “Yes!” (MP3)

So five British guys decided to come to Austin and play a little prank on us Yanks.

“Let’s wear all white jumpsuits,” one of them said.

“And we’ll say we’re from Kansas!” said another one.

“No, Oklahoma!” chimed in another. “Just like the Flaming Lips.”

“Awesome. They will never know. We will play our brit rock. We will get them all sexed up. We will swirl our guitars, and make the pit pogo. It will be grand.”

“And we’ll call ourselves Colourmusic,” said the last one. Ah, the spelling almost gave them away.

“But we’re not shaving our beards, right?” said the first one.

“Hell, no,” they said in unison.

And there they were on Maggie Mae’s rooftop on the last night of SXSW, pretending to be a handful of bearded guys from Oklahoma.


Like Rob Harvilla a few nights before, I too busted my right eardrum getting you these pictures. And I hope you enjoy them.

You can’t tell much from the photos, but I implore you to go to their MySpace page and listen to the closer of the set “Yes!”

Now listen to the entire thing. Now pretend you are on a rooftop in Austin at nearly midnight, after four days and night of music, your blood thinned to turpentine status, your body begging for Sunday afternoon. Ahh, you now see. Colourmusic are not a bunch of cuddly Oklahomans with a penchant for matching white jumpsuits and beards. They are not Man Man. Yes, they can sound like Wayne Coyne’s stepchildren, but on this track, I’ve got their number. They are some sort of supergroup filled with members from Primal Scream or the Happy Mondays, or whoever the hell else. At least that’s what I was thinking as I watched them close out their set with that song, the crowd being more into it than any band I had seen to that point in Austin, including Lou Reed. This is bullshit. The chants. The harmony. The crunchy chords. The guitar wails. The handclaps. The cowbell. Yes, the cowbell.

After their set, I find myself standing at the edge of the stage now occupied by British Sea Power, talking to the tall one from Colourmusic. He hands me his card. It reads “Roy G. Biv.” I later learn this is a mnemonic device for remembering colors: R(ed)O(range)Y(ellow)G(reen)B(lue)I(ndigo)V(iolet).

We are shouting over the sound of his compatriots pounding in front of us. He is masking his British accent, trying for some sort of Midwestern twang. It sounds convincing considering the circumstances.

“Fucking bullshit artist,” I think. “Go back to Glasgow or Manchester or wherever the hell it is you’re from.”

Then I wonder if they have a cool T-shirt.

DOWNLOAD
Colourmusic, “Yes!” (MP3)
Colourmusic, “Circles” (MP3)
Colourmusic, “You Can Call Me By Name” (MP3)

Categories
CULTURE ARCHIVES MUSIC ARCHIVES

SXSW: Kate Nash at the Q Magazine Party

Kate Nash
Driskoll Hotel, Austin
Saturday, March 15

Kate Nash is taking her boots off.

She has slipped off her acoustic guitar and is settling in behind the keyboard, pulling her legs underneath to reveal two little feet covered in bright blue socks. The room—at least the front half of the room not out smoking on the patio—is melting. Her delivery is vulnerable, with the endearing accent and the lightheaded cadence, may have disarmed you when first heard it streaming on MySpace. But near the end of this 120s-hour-long binge of alcohol and feedback, that voice is like a big bowl of smiles and sunshine. It’s a voice that, when matched with the “Death of a Disco Dancer-esque” intro, can make the line “Why are you being a dickhead for?” sound downright sweet.

]

Nash has been running around full on since the beginning of last year. She sprinted from Glastonbury to Reading and Leeds, then made it to Jools Holland, then the Top of the Pops on Christmas Day. But the British Islands are small. This year, she will start April in Belgium and end it in Detroit—with Boston, Stockholm, New York, Indio, and a whole bunch of other cities in between.

But here’s Kate Nash today in Austin, taking her boots off. Getting comfortable with us. Slowing down for the marble room at the Driskill. Like she must have looked like in her bedroom, recording tracks on Garage Band, and uploading them to her MySpace page. Oh the mythic legends of a generation. Never mind that we learn quickly, as we watch her blue toes hit the floor pedals, that the boots would have been too cumbersome for her footwork.

She starts into the simple intro of “Foundations,” continuously kicking the shit out of the anonymous boy she flogs throughout her set. She has gotten flack for these verbal beatings. Too much complaining, they say. But when is music not essentially bitching about boys and girls? And she can pull it off.

She finishes, does one more song, then looks over to her handler at the edge of the stage. He motions with his fingers, making them run in quick strides in the air off the imaginary stage. It’s time to run. Let’s go. Kate Nash has to go.

The venue: marble covered room on the mezzanine level of the Driskill Hotel. Chandeliers, dark wood, big boring paintings.

The crowd: RSVP only and the selective list shut down days ago, so it’s 300 connected Brits, corporate wanks, lots of legs, twee lasses, a gaggle of shaggy hipsters.

Openers: These New Puritans. Tight, loud four piece. Singer has pipes and presence to compete. “They’re Coming to Take Me Away,” if written in a South London Garage in 2007. Drummer redeems himself after playing a dreadful round of Guitar Hero—dude didn’t realize you had to strum and press the colored buttons. Drummers.

Lightspeed Champion: Endearing acoustic Smiths meets Camper’s sad fiddle. Late-night comedown music. The ten-minute closer, “Midnight Surprise,” is my take- home song from Texas. Champion also did a killer cover of “Get Free” by the Vines, trading verses with Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man.frontman Frederick Blood-Royale.

The Pigeon Detectives: After Kate Nash, half the room emptied, leaving the Pigeon Detectives and their standard post-Brit pop a little lonely, and me sitting in a chair in the back of the room writing this down.

My favorite: The tiny platinum blonde with the leopard skin shirt, go-go-going like she was on Laugh In. I will see her hips in my nightmares (but in a good way).

Runner up: the middle-aged guy wearing white shorts and a white shirt with Canada written on it, walking around holding a squash racket. I think wandering-into-the-room-while-looking-for-the-gym-but-rolling-with-it was genius. I am wearing my ice hockey gear next year.

Marketing mistake of the day: Co-sponsor Guitar Hero had three Guitar Hero stations set up in the back of the room. With no headphones. And they didn’t have a complete demo, only the songs from level 1, which means there were only five songs everyone could play. So before the shows start, I have to listen to all these Brits fucking up “Even Flow” over and over again. At least they had their product out there: Would it have killed Q to have a table with their latest issue?

The drink: Cash bar, drink tickets. Lots of champagne and Corona.

The food: Parmesan-crusted chicken, vegetarian pot stickers, salmon tar tar.

Favorite line from the stage: “This is a song about a prostitute. . . enjoy your food,” Lightspeed Champion.