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Inside Childish Gambino’s Close Friends ‘Bando Stone’ NYC Listening Experience

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Childish Gambino turned New York City’s Little Island into Close Friends Island on Saturday night (July 6) for the live debut of his upcoming Bando Stone & The New World album, which will be his final under the artistic moniker.

Floating on the Hudson River and surrounded by grass and trees, Gambino gave lucky fans a break from the concrete jungle in the sweltering 90-degree heat and the chance to be the first to hear his anticipated LP.

Only 100 were expected to be invited, but it appears most were given a plus one as the Chelsea amphitheater was filled to capacity while others were left to watch via the livestream shown in the park.

Gambino took centerstage in a pair of Chubbies, a yellow button-down and white snapback. He got things going shortly after 9 p.m. ET and showed love to Amaarae, who provided a smooth assist on the opening track, which he dubbed to be his favorite verse on the entire album.

The multi-hyphenate joked that the Bronx native would soon stop answering his texts as she’s on her way to stardom and opening up on Sabrina Carpenter’s tour.

An unlikely guest appearance came from Chloe Bailey and her heavenly vocals on “Survivor,” while Kamassi Washington helmed saxophone duties.

The first standout moment came when Childish Gambino sat down next to Steve Lacy and Foushee, who were both in attendance, and they performed their airy collaboration “Steph’s Beach.”

“I’m down to clown around,” Gambino recalled the “Bad Habit” singer telling him when asking if he wanted to potentially collaborate. Lacy and Foushee are no strangers, as they previously teamed up for tracks like “Sunshine” and “Candy Grapes.”

Hearing Jorja Smith’s piercing harmonies came as a pleasant surprise on personal favorite “Free the Night.” The intoxicating track finds Bino putting his croon to the test against the talented U.K. singer and Amaarae.

“We made it a long time ago. I asked her to do it, and she just finished having a baby,” Glover revealed. Smith has never confirmed she had a child publicly. He added: “She finished another part of the verse two days ago.”

Childish Gambino made it clear with his final offering that he’s not leaving any stone unturned and catering to all facets of his fan base’s palette. Sonics are important to the 40-year-old, and he had to check with the crew to see if the sub speakers were working before pressing play on the thumping Flo Milli-assisted “Talk My S–t,” where he takes a step back and lets the Alabama rhymer jackhammer the tune.

While the “This Is America” rapper leans into a range of influences, rapping is still a core passion for Gambino, who bars up on a blistering track with fiery rhymes taking aim at his detractors. “White boy throwing dirt on my name for the think piece,” he spews.

“Cruisin’” is a track Gambino started way back in 2014, and he invited Yeat into the fold to take it across the finish line. Other album cuts included another Foushee collaboration, “Running Away,” the “intense” dubstep-leaning “Got to Be” and the “very Euro” LP closer “Place Where Love Goes,” which feels like something Ye and Travis Scott would’ve cooked up.

He fittingly wrapped up the 75-minute show and got the crowd involved for an intimate debut sing-along to his grungy Max Martin-produced “Lithonia” single that arrived earlier in the week. Fans already had most of the verses memorized.

Bando Stone & The New World is a diverse exploration into Gambino’s artistry, and the variety pack has something for every era of his fans. The project hits streaming services on July 19 and will serve as the soundtrack companion to the blockbuster, which remains without a release date.


Michael Saponara
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