Although Childish Gambino’s This Is America Tour has been announced as his final trek, Donald Glover is far from slowing down as a prolific dynamo of originality. As a producer, director, writer, comedian, DJ, recording artist and live performer, the modern-day Renaissance Man is absolutely at the top of his game and, according to Variety, “on an upward trajectory that’s rarely seen for a musical artist, let alone an is-there-anything-he-can’t-do polymath who channels so much creativity into so many different projects.”
The same relentless pursuit of creativity that makes the Emmy and Grammy winner one of the most relevant and important artists of our time also carries over into the tech behind how his art is presented—a fact most recently underscored by the use of L-ISA Hyperreal Sound technology for his latest North American tour run.
Credit for all photos: Greg Noire
Childish Gambino’s tour director, Christian Coffey, additionally serves as tour director for Run The Jewels. He first heard L-ISA when the hip-hop duo went out on Lorde’s North American Melodrama Tour earlier this year.
“Lorde’s tour sounded incredible—really full and panoramic,” Coffey recalls. “Childish’s management was at her Staples’ Center show and felt the same way, so that’s when our discussions began. Everyone wanted an immersive experience with a non-traditional arena show, and we felt that the L-ISA system could be a great fit.”
To widen the sonic panorama and add dimension to the 20,000-seat, sold-out arenas on this tour, the L-ISA Scene system provided by Britannia Row comprised three center arrays of 15 K2 flanked by a pair of 21-enclosure Kara arrays. For increased horizontal spread, four arrays of 15 Kara were flown, two per side, outside of the Scene system as an additional L-ISA Extension system, while two arrays of 13 K2 were deployed to provide coverage to the seats on the extreme sides of the stage.
Palpable low frequency coverage was delivered by two adjacent center hangs of eight KS28 each, flown in a cardioid configuration, while an additional eight ground-stacked KS28 provided LF reinforcement to the near-field audience. Six Kara spread across the stage lip provided front fill, and the entire system was driven by LA12X amplified controllers housed in LA-RAK II touring racks.
With Glover unquestionably in his prime as an artist, and his This Is America Tour being hailed by the entertainment press as both a culture-defining “work of art” and a “religious experience,” the extraordinary production values did not go unnoticed. "Despite the large venue, the performance still felt intimate," wrote University of Maryland's Diamondback newspaper, also describing the concert as “an immersive show." According to Boston’s WRBBradio.com, “In that moment, nearly 20,000 people became a part of something greater, something closer, something visceral. With our hands in the air, and the bass vibrating our bodies… we could feel community.” NJ.com shared, “A booming six-piece band was hidden in pits on either side of the catwalk and, unlike many modern hip-hop shows, you could actually hear them!” Dan DeLuca of the Philadelphia Inquirer called it “the show of the summer,” further emphasizing that he had “seen a lot of good ones, from U2 and Radiohead and Elton John... If I had to pick one to go back and see one more time, though, it would without a doubt be the This Is America Tour.”
“The L-ISA system has the capability to improve the overall breadth and dynamic possibilities for a live concert experience,” Coffey notes. “It can really widen and improve the aural experience in a multitude of settings and shows.” Coffey also praised the people behind the technology: “Everyone at L-Acoustics has been excellent to deal with. They went above and beyond to provide assistance and help wherever they could to make sure that we had everything possible for a successful show.”