Hangout Festival’s been dominated by an impressive array of bearded singer-songwriters slinging banjos and acoustic guitars and peddling hushed, chilldown folk tunes to barefoot crowds in peasant skirts and flower crowns. Unless you were at Childish Gambino’s set. Because if you came to Hangout to, well, hang out, Childish’s set was not your place. If you came to be brainwashed by a steely eyed drill sergeant/cult leader/dance commander on a singular mission to drop a performance fiery enough to burn down the Gulf Shores boardwalk, then you got that.
Buoyed by his live band, Gambino revealed a tongue-twisting flow polished to perfection and a stage presence propelled by what could only be secret injections of rocket fuel or a hidden jetpack. On tracks like “IV Sweatpants,” Gambino carpet bombed the stage with swag, unapologetically dropping not just his mic but references to Jeff Goldblum, onomatopoeia, and (unsettlingly) the KKK for the rabid crowd to process.
On “3005,” one of his best-known tracks, and “III. Telegraph Ave.,” Gambino channeled The Love Below-era Andre 3000, revealing the trippy vulnerability and solitude (even in the midst of an audience transfixed) that make him one of the most diverse rappers in the game and bringing a much-needed (and greatly appreciated) dose of hip-hop to Hangout Fest.