On a very summery Main Green, Spring Weekend laid forth its mottled bounty. Friday's concert, featuring What Cheer? Brigade, Sepalcure and Childish Gambino, was characterized by tough crowds straining to catch a glimpse of Gambino's altogether bland performance. But Saturday's musicians - Twin Shadow, the Walkmen, Cam'ron and the Glitch Mob - put on a raucous, memorable show.
"It's about the experience, not the music." - The mantra of Friday concertgoers
It is rarely, if ever, acceptable to blame the audience for a bad concert. But an exception might have to be made for the audience at Friday night's show, which so utterly resisted participating it was almost laughable. Concertgoers said they were seeking an experience, but that came at the cost of not experiencing the music to its fullest potential.
Early highlight What Cheer? Brigade lived up to its funkadelic reputation. The genre-crossing brass band made a surprise entrance on the Main Green between Wilson Hall and the John Carter Brown Library, bringing early concertgoers flocking to dance.
But following them, Sepalcure proved to be more introspective than engaging. The two-piece electro-dub outfit's uninspired performance was perhaps partially a function of the open-air, twilit venue - their music is suited more to indulgent headphone listening or dark, crowded clubs. But the crowd, jam-packed in anticipation of Childish Gambino and, as a result, more or less peevish and bored, was in no mood to make allowances.
You gotta do a show so we can come and molest you. /
This rap stuff is magic ...
Childish Gambino - "Fire Fly"
A deafening roar went up when Gambino entered, but the comedian, rapper, writer and producer had a rocky start. Sound issues, which were pervasive throughout the weekend, were especially noticeable during his first two songs. He certainly brought energy to the performance, but his frenetic leaps and twists were not enough to draw the crowd into the music.
Despite the hype leading up to the concert, the audience seemed unwilling to meet Gambino halfway. Only in the second half of the show - after Gambino broke out "Freaks and Geeks," "Rolling in the Deep" and "Bonfire" - did his energy wash into the crowd. His closing freestyle left the audience reeling.
Was his performance good? Sure. Was it "tear-jerking," as one student's Facebook status proclaimed?
Far from it. That was left to Saturday's concerts.
I cannot wait for summer / I cannot wait for June... /
I never felt so wild at all ...
Twin Shadow - "I Can't Wait"
Under glimmering blue skies, Saturday opener Twin Shadow wooed a tragically small crowd with strung-out, refulgent '80s-style synth pop rock - yeah, they're riding that wave. But it's hard to fault them - they do it so transcendently, evoking at times New Order, David Bowie and even, in some guitar riffs, Guns N' Roses. Alas that so many concertgoers missed the opportunity to bask in their crystalline, beachy noise.
I was the only one left
at the right time ...
The Walkmen - "Canadian Girl"
Five-piece alt-rock band the Walkmen stepped in for a very late Cam'ron with good grace. These guys are professionals. They know what they're about - they have been touring for more than a decade. They gave a nice, sterile show. That is all there is to say about them.
They all comical, Killa Killa phenomenal /
Honored the honesty mommy illage villa I promise you ...
Cam'ron - "Wet Wipes"
Entourage in tow, Killa Cam fought his way out of the dark recesses of awkward middle school dances to deliver a truly entertaining - if sadly truncated - show. Childish Gambino could take a few leaves out of the master's book - Cam'ron worked the crowd like he was born to do it and performed without needing to prove anything. Halfway through one song, he told his DJ to stop the record and chastised the crowd for not "giving me enough." His laid-back set was a testament to the decade and a half he's spent as de facto hip-hop royalty. Snitches get stitches.
"Brown ... we love you. That is all."
Tweet from the Glitch Mob - April 22, 4 p.m.
The Glitch Mob, despite having released only one LP, despite being saddled with the unenviable task of performing electronic music in full daylight, despite their relative East Coast anonymity, despite their gimmicky matching shirts and ties - the Glitch Mob were unquestionably the highlight of the weekend and possibly the best act since the legendary Spring Weekend 2010.
The high-energy show culminated in an encore featuring a mix of the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army," but aural goodies were scattered throughout the set, from the uptempo, grinding "Drive it Like You Stole It" to the anthemic "Bad Wings."
was again an issue. The entire show could have been louder, but bass was given almost comically short shrift. By tilting their midi controllers and touch screens towards the crowd, the Glitch Mob has developed a potent cure to the stiffness endemic in live electronic music. But the daylight rendered that technique - and, regrettably, the concert's light show - void. Still, the Glitch Mob delivered, well and truly. It is obvious that band members Edward Ma, Justin Boreta and Josh Mayer take pure joy in making music and - thank the gods of gritty electronica - they have the desire and the ability to share that joy with their audience. The Glitch Mob ... we love you. That is all.