As the house lights dimmed, the crowd at the ACL Live at the Moody Theater let out a collective roar. Two large arched video screens at the back of the stage flickered to life, finally settling on the words “Act 1 – The Beautiful” as a sensuous female voice came over the PA: “Ladies and Gentlemen – The Beautiful and Damned”
Oaktown Rap force Gerald Earl Gillum – otherwise known as G-Eazy – sauntered to the stage. Dressed head-to-toe in black and sporting his trademark leather jacket, he approached the mic stand. With a sudden downbeat, plumes of CO2 burst skyward and G-Eazy spit out the opening verse to the title song off of his latest work “The Beautiful & Damned.” Just like that, the place was lit!
Although just the third stop on his headlining North American tour, the music was tight and the rapper was loose. G-Eazy alternated between strutting back and forth across the empty stage and holding court in the center, exhorting the sold-out audience to raise their hands and join the experience. His swagger was on point as he rapped a 25 song set, heavy on jams from his latest. In fact, the first six tunes were all from “The Beautiful & Damned,” an emotional highlight coming at the end of “Pray for me.” G-Eazy dropped to his knees reciting the song’s title as he clasped his hands and pointed towards the heavens.
Although the screams were loudest for the back catalog hits, the newer tunes were welcomed almost as boisterously, especially “No Limit,” “Sober,” and the song he recorded with girlfriend Halsey, “Him & I.”
G-Eazy seems to understand that a performance is about being real. It’s about connecting with the audience. He doesn’t display the aggressive who-gives-a-fuck attitude present in a lot of rappers’ performances. In fact, G-Eazy spent most of his time on stage smiling and making eye-contact with the crowd. And the females down front were happily taking it in. He even stopped to take an occasional selfie with an audience member’s cellphone. It doesn’t hurt that he is blessed with James Dean good looks capped with expressive eyes that display a potent mix of innocence and sexual fire. He also brings a refreshing energy to his raps continually moving accentuating his rhymes with fist pumps and gangly long-legged jumps.
G-Eazy’s realness extends beyond his demeanor. At one point the video on the rear screens stopped, and the backlighting revealed his previously hidden band. He introduced turntable wizard heavy hitter DJ Quiz, Curtis on the keys and “the freshest drummer alive,” Blizzy LC on drums. This live trio is hot, bringing raw overtones and an energy that just cannot be replicated by prerecorded music tracks.
Throughout the show, he talked to the crowd, expressing this thanks and for the support of his fans who have been “fucking with me on this fucking journey.” While the crowd banter certainly lent an air of intimacy to the show, it also showed an unfortunate verbal crutch. G-Eazy likes the F-word. He used it as a verb, a noun, an adjective and a spice, liberally sprinkling it between the other words in his vocabulary. While I’m sure no one in the audience was at all offended, it did become a bit grating after awhile. Still, this is a minor complaint in an otherwise strong performance.
About halfway through his set, the screen displayed “Act 2- The Damned” signaling a shift towards the darker subject matter. No matter, as the audience response remained the same. Shrieks, screams and raised hands accompanied each new track, which featured more from his earlier album, 2015’s “When It’s Dark Out” along with his 2017 collaboration with Dillon Francis “Say Less.”
He encored with three of his biggest hits, “Him & I,” Me, Myself and I,” and the closer “No Limit”.
G-EAZY PHOTO GALLERY
Click to View Full Images
The night opened with 20-minute sets from pop artist Anthony Russo and journeyman rapper Phora, who got things started entertaining the crowd. Russo elicited screams from the young women down front with his boyish good looks and smooth vocals. Anaheim’s Phora served as a bridge between the pop stylings of Russo and the harder raps of Trippie Redd, setting the stage for G-Eazy’s all-encompassing jams.
Ohio rapper with a bullet Trippie Redd took the third opening spot with a bass-heavy performance that included his hits “Dark Knight Dummo” and “Love Scars.” Redd’s rhymes were more intense, and his performance more animated. He was able to pull in the crowd, many of whom were rapping along with him and proved that this 18-year-old is one to watch going forward.