Pharos: More Than a Album

A review of a private release of Childish Gambino’s new album

Will Gorka, Staff Writer

It all started on June 17 when Childish Gambino, or Donald Glover depending on what you know him from, tweeted out a link to an app;

Once the app was downloaded it lead to a countdown. Gambino had not tweeted since wiping his twitter clean back on December 11 2014, so fans immediately went into a frenzy on twitter and started speculating about the possibility of new music.

When the countdown finally hit zero fans soon learned that it was for pre- sale tickets to a concert at Jacobs Tree, California. Very few details were given other than the fact that Bino would be performing an entire new album live for the very first time with three shows September 2nd-4th. After promising that these would be his only live performances of 2016 tickets went up for sale and the show sold out in less than six minutes.

Due to the overwhelming demand for tickets two more midnight shows were added for the 2nd and 3rd. Those who were 21+ had the opportunity to camp out over night post concert.

Once a ticket was purchased you got access to a guidebook with a set of rules “1. Be helpful. Do not be a detriment. 2. Dress in frequency / wavelength color. 3. Do not disturb anyone’s vibration unless their vibration violates rule 1. 4. No irony. 5. Small talk is discouraged. Real talk when possible.”

Upon arrival everything was lit up with blue lights and everyone was decked out in blue, the wavelength color for the show. There was a line that led to a security check and before entering all phones and recording devices were locked up in a pouch that could not be opened until after the show was over.

Some concertgoers came all the way from Florida, some from Ohio, taking a plane to LAX and then a train to Jacobs Tree just to see the show because they “could not miss out on an experience like this.” Next the crowd walked through a revolving door one by one into a giant dome structure.

Walking in the first thing noticed was the 3D stars on the ceiling that were shimmering down like fireworks. Everyone stood around anxiously waiting for Gambino to come out as his crew got ready, which consisted of a bass player, a pianist, a drummer, a percussionist, a guitarist, and a six person choir.

The entire dome went black and seconds later the man everyone had been waiting for emerged from the darkness onto the middle of the stage covered in nothing but glow in the dark tribal body paint, a neon yellow tribal skirt, and long colorful braids that were so long that they nearly touched the ground.

He scanned the crowd a bit and without saying a word the show began. He performed the 12 song album straight through with zero speaking or monologues, only stopping to alert security of someone that had a little too much fun and passed out in the first row. No songs from any of his previous body of works were performed, meaning everyone was hearing everything that was played for the very first time.

This album was unlike anything Gambino had ever put out. In contrast to his other music projects, which were very rap/hip-hop heavy, every song was sung, varying from genre to genre.

As the songs changed so did the 3D visuals throughout the dome. A more extreme version of Miracle Mile in Las Vegas, each song had its own visual, ranging from a desert like background, to volcanoes erupting all over the place, to a great flood, to lighting, and so forth.

One song whose chorus went something along the lines of “All I see are Zombies” even had animated hooded zombies walking mindlessly throughout the ceiling and on the walls.

The song of the night had to be the one about California, which had a similar vibe to Gambino’s previous hit 3005. It got the whole crowd rocking as palm trees and vibrant colors were displayed across the dome. For the finale you were taken through space as planets and stars went flying by speeding up and slowing down as the song progressed.

Standing there it was almost as if the planets were actually passing by and to say that it was trippy would be an understatement. After the show was over all guests had the chance to view a screening of the first three episodes of Gambino’s new show Atlanta, which is set to premiere on September 6th on FX.

Overall it was a unique show, in which there was no fighting, arguing, pushing through the crowd to get to the front.

Everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there. The whole night was filled with nothing but good vibes. Pharos was more than just an album or a concert; it was an experience in its own that cannot really be understood without having been there yourself.