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Our first-hand experience at #Pharos

This past weekend, our team of four drove the couple hours to Joshua Tree for the mysterious #Pharos experience.

Collectively, we didn’t know too much about what Childish Gambino had in store for Labor Day Weekend. We know it was going to be the premiere of a new album and that there would be a spiritual, tribal unity as illustrated in the Pharos guidebook (released on the app after you bought tickets.)

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“Pharos,” which is literally a lighthouse built off the coast of Alexandria in Egypt by Ptolemy II in around 280 BC, is meant to be a beacon for those who want to shift away from the technosphere. (via OKP)

What it turned out to be… well, it took a few days to collect my thoughts but here’s the summary to start off as I tweeted from the other night.

So in short, it was dope.

But let me explain why and in more detail.

On a greater scale, I feel it’s safe to call Donald Glover an artistic wizard. That may seem airy (and I suppose it’s my way of saying genius without trying to contribute to the overuse of the term) but the performance really made me conclude the undeniable, versatile talent of Glover… on another level than before.

I remember thinking during the performance that this was the same guy who cleverly compared his d*ck to an elephant’s memory, and even earlier, broke out with the ‘Bro Rape’ sketch. I don’t mean that to belittle those past achievements because all of Glover’s early work as a comic, actor, and rapper are all magnificent in their own right. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be here (and running Atlanta.)

I only bring that up because I felt as I was witnessing the performance, I was also witnessing Glover’s evolution into a complete music artist — dare I say, a New Age D’Angelo, with the colorful style and high-pitched vocals of, dare I say again, Prince. Gambino was excellently hitting the high notes and sporadically yelling throughout and Prince jumped to mind as the comp.

This feels like a good time to emphasize how soulful, and at times, funky Gambino’s new music was. He was backed by a 12-piece band (3 guitarists, 1 on a whole mess of keys, 2 drummers, and 6 in a choir) in matching tribal outfits. Gambino, in glow and the dark paint, let each of them shine at various points of the show. Raw guitar solos were interspersed as Gambino went into the shadows. If he wasn’t in the shadows, he pointed out the choir and let them grace the dome with more soul.

But again, it comes back to Gambino, who carried a one hour, fifteen minute plus performance with every song flowing to the next and no breaks to address the crowd. He immersed us into the music, the story, and the visuals — and even moreso with the absence of phones.

It was liberating to not have my phone out and seek the perfect video clip to post on Instagram or Twitter (and in the process get that damn Storage is Full error.) Phones would have not only distracted from the full experience but also not have fully captured it either. The dome projected non-stop visuals of space, tribal characters in different forms like skeletons and aliens, and even rain that felt like it was coming on top of you if you stared at it long enough. In fact, that whole experience made me feel a little disoriented. (No drugs here, people.)

Furthermore, the visuals heavily guided the story if you couldn’t understand word for word what Gambino was singing — my lone gripe. Even though the sound was quality in the dome, the power of the band sometimes drowned out the quick delivery from Gambino. The performance began with a liftoff into a new world after three songs. It ended with a return back to earth in what was the night’s best song and fastest-moving projection. The theme of the song: follow your dreams and keep going. You won’t fall. (I don’t want to ruin Gambino’s actual lyrics if and when he releases a version of Pharos — hopefully the live audio. It doesn’t jump off the page as much as it impacted me in the dome.)

To me, it’s clear that Donald Glover kept following his dreams and evolving as a music artist, and now an actor, writer, and producer on Atlanta. Everything is next-level and I’m here for all of it.

And lastly, if everything is as next-level as the concept of a weekend campout combined with a no-phones premiere performance, I’m all for that too. Thanks for pushing the envelope, Mr. Glover.

More photos and video I aggregated below. Hey, some were more crafty than I and snuck their phones in. Ha! (Lead photo by: Ibra Ake)

The 60-foot high, 150-foot wide domed stage, as seen from the campsite at sunset (better than my Snapchat pic LOL. s/o P&P)

The 60-foot high, 150-foot wide domed stage, as seen from the campsite at sunset (better than my Snapchat pic LOL. s/o P&P)

(Lmao… this was accurate.)

Thank you, @childishgambino

A photo posted by Pablo S. Torre (@pstorre) on

 

One last shoutout to everyone below for putting this all together.

PHAROS WEEKEND CREDITS:

Wolf + Rothstein
Source – Donald Glover
Tone – Fam Udeorji
The Wolf – Chad Taylor
Art – Ibra Ake

PHAROS.earth app
Executive Producers – Wolf + Rothstein
Technical Lead – Miles Konstantin (Proverse)

Event Producers:
Executive Producers – Wolf + Rothstein
Associate Producers – Mick Management
Producer – Live Nation

Dome Content:
Executive Producers – Wolf + Rothstein
Technical Leads – Alejandro Miguel Justino Crawford, Brian Chasalow, Chelsea Hash, Austion Woolfolk
Animation – Mikael Gustafsson
Content partner – Microsoft

Illumination Forest
Lighting Designer – Sarah Landau
Bio-luminescent smart-material – Elena Corchero (Lost Values)

Outdoor theater
Content Provider – FX

PHAROS players
Source – Childish Gambino
Musical Director – Ludwig Goransson
Keys – Lynette Williams
Bass – Thomas Drayton
Drums – Chris Hartz
Percussion – Dani Markham
Guitar – Sam Sugarman

Choir:
Jason Morales
Musique Cooks
Dennis Clark
Nita Hutton
Nikisha Grier
Danielle Withers

pharos-ending

(Stay tuned…??)