Most people didn’t hear about Childish Gambino’s “Pharos” shows until after they were sold-out, which happened just six minutes after tickets were released. Due to overwhelming demand, he added two more shows to the event, dedicating most of his Labor Day Weekend to premiering his new album, the follow-up to 2014’s Kauai. Here’s what we know about “The Pharos Experience”, probably one of the most exclusive and innovative events an artist has ever hosted to debut a new record.
Charging patrons $100 dollars to witness untested music in a pretty remote setting, a venue in the middle of California’s Josua Tree Desert, was a risk that only someone supremely confident and talented could pull off. And Childish Gambino truly proved himself this past weekend during five live shows. Though ticket holders were forced to forfeit over their phones, some were able to sneak them in, and so from several blurry snapchat and Instagram videos, we can get a general sense of what The Pharos Experience looked and sounded like.
Instead of continuing the lo-fi, experimental electronic elements we saw on Because the Internet, Gambino instead seems to have created the sequel to Kauai, picking up right where he left off in terms of tribal music. From videos, we know that Childish Gambino entered the stage completely in his element, shirtless and bearing warrior paint on his forehead and cheeks. The shows featured a live band of drums, other percussion, keys, guitar, bass, and even a choir, much unlike the palette of Internet sounds Gambino has employed before. Instead, Gambino traverses between retro-soul, funk, blues, hip-hop, and other types of African music, all while pushing the boundaries of his own voice and releasing his inner James Brown. Fans who have enjoyed recent releases by Hiatus Kaiyote, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat have much to look forward to.
The dome where the shows took place was art personified, a constant string of visuals playing against Gambino’s performances. The visuals, often trippy but entirely stimulating, brought Gambino’s Pharos shows to a whole new level. Without meaning to—or perhaps meaning to—Gambino may have pioneered the future of live music listening. And since most ticket holders didn’t have their phones on them, they were forced to be entirely present, capturing live music as it should be captured, personally and in the moment.
In addition to debuting his new courageous and deeply artful music, Gambino shared the first episode of Atlanta to fan delight, giving forth everything he’s been hard at work for these past couple of years. The show, based on the growing rap scene in Atlanta, promises some great acting and direction.
In a nutshell, Gambino’s latest record Pharos promises distorted tribal vibes, minimal rapping, and a more artistic approach to the genre. Though Pharos may split Gambino fans into those who enjoy him as a rapper versus those who prefer his peculiar brand of artistry, we think all Bino fans should keep an open mind about what seems to have been a truly successful and ambitious album release.
Though we know some facts regarding Pharos, the question remains: When will Pharos be available to the public? Keep checking back for updates!