It’s true. G-Eazy (government name: Gerald Gillum), is as suave on stage as he is in the charming storylines of his music videos.
The recent Loyola University graduate, now full-time rapper (and producer and graphic designer and…) played up his pretty-boy charm on stage Friday night at Republic for a Sandlot-themed “Throwback” night, a going away party of sorts before G-Eazy heads out of town to perform with this summer’s 18th-annual Warped Tour.
Cool and confident on his “favorite fucking stage in the world,” the Oakland-bred 23-year-old delivered a brief-but-energetic set to local friends and fans, showcasing the musical talent and creativity that has him amassing a national audience as of late. The set, a preview of his touring performance, featured some of his older material as well as songs from his most recent mixtape, The Endless Summer. The tracks on the tape lace witty, boastful rhymes and local vocal talent with antique samples of ’50s and ’60s pre-Beatles rock ‘n’ roll and doo-wop to create the refreshing and courageously original sound that has become his signature.
With alluring charisma and playful arrogance, G-Eazy serenaded the audience, his cadence building a lively midnight crowd. Home-field advantage helped, with each familiar song inciting handclaps, head bops, and waving middle fingers as the crowd recited his witty rhymes. At one point while performing his latest single “Marilyn,” he dangled the microphone over the audience, giving them an opportunity to take over the spotlight and him a chance to survey his dedicated supporters. That song, which chronicles the ups and downs of maintaining a relationship while pursuing a peripatetic music career, was impishly followed by the Endless Summer track “Make-Up Sex”. “The best thing about getting in a fight with your girlfriend is the make-up sex,” he announced with a smirk and a wink, a seamless transition that received cheers and laughter from the crowd. His performance was filled with similar candid and charming transitions, from serenading on his knees to clearing a path with a chimney sweep, showcasing his ability to effortlessly connect with his young fans.
From the front row, I could see the sweat drowning his skin as he danced both with and around the mic. The doting mass of young girls, swooning over his lanky, James Dean-meets-The Outsiders look, were almost as entertaining as G-Eazy himself. With his slicked-back hair, jumpy dance moves, and catchy vintage samples—from Dion’s “Runaround Sue” to Mary Poppins’ “Chim Chim Cher-ee”—his performance had a nostalgic, American Bandstand vibe. I found myself waiting for the synchronized, sparkling “ding” special effect each time he flashed his pearly whites.
Other than its brevity, the show’s sole, but crucial disappointment was that G-Eazy’s mic was not loud enough. Even from the front row, I couldn’t always make out what he was saying. Luckily the familiar crowd knew most of the words and could sing along regardless. G’s connection with his audience can’t be overstated. At one point, in an organic transition to “The Coolest Job”, he paused to give a birthday shout out to a female fan who had made a five-hour road trip to attend the show. “Shit like this,” he said, “is what makes me think I have the coolest fucking job ever.” And from the comfortable coolness, natural energy, and genial pleasure the up-and-comer exudes on stage, you can tell he truly believes that.
G-Eazy performed last Friday at Republic to kick off his participation in the Vans Warped Tour. “New Orleans—” he started. “—I’m from Oakland, California, but this right here is my favorite stage.” It was almost midnight by the time he stepped out in front of the large crowd, and he’d sweat through his Chicago Cubs jersey by the second song.
G-Eazy’s lyrics aren’t anything the rap audience hasn’t heard before, let alone any music listener. He sings about relationship mishaps and make-up sex. He calls girls “bitches” and he brags about his effortless and inordinate success with them. He lit cigarettes on stage.
But Gillum doesn’t have the stereotypical rapper M.O. He’s a thin white kid with delicate facial features and gelled-back hair. He went to college—and graduated—using those four years in New Orleans to study the music business in Loyola’s Music Industry Studies program and kick-start his career.
The apparent disconnect between his sweet-guy appearance and bad-boy demeanor mirrors the seeming disconnect between his lyrics and his background—and, judging by the success of “Sue” and the fact that he’s shared stages with names as big as Drake and Lil Wayne, it works. Friday, a girl in the front row told G-Eazy that she’d driven five hours to see him.
Promptly, he played “The Coolest Job,” which opens with an exasperated monologue: “So much work to do. I gotta play a show, I gotta sign titties…” Behind his voice was “Chim Chim Cher-ee”. He was a showman: he danced during the hooks and closed his eyes when he rapped and, eventually, the gel in his hair started to look more like sweat.
The show finished less than an hour after it started, with G-Eazy throwing his beer on the crowd.