The first thing I noticed as I entered the sold-out Veterans Memorial Coliseum was that I, at 26, appeared to be somewhere between six and 10 years older than the average attendee of the first stop of G-Eazy's When It's Dark Out World Tour.
This made certain aspects of this otherwise excellent show feel, at times, like something out of a Mike Judge film. I took my seat next to a guy wearing a backwards Jägermeister flatbrim who was using the concrete floor of the seat separating us as a spittoon. He would put a fresh wad of dip into his gum about 45 minutes later.
After a rapid setup, opener A$AP Ferg took the stage in a white windbreaker, in front of a large screen flashing sleek black-and-white imagery of a roiling ocean as he belted out a bombastic rendition of "Let It Go," the opener to his 2013 album Trap Lord. He mostly abandoned his bouncy cadence from Trap Lord for a more assertive, jock-jam style flow that suited the arena ambiance and served as excellent turn-up music for the main act. Watching the predominately white crowd of aforementioned teens scream "I GOT HELLA HOES" made me feel like Hank Hill. Shut up, Tyler. You have braces.
It became apparent that the youths were there for G-Eazy when a klaxon shriek of screams erupted upon the unveiling of his backdrop: a stage-wide recreation of a slummy brothel called "The Saint" upon which perched Eazy's drummer "Blizzy" Blake Robinson and his DJ. G-Eazy is tall, classically handsome and clean cut, sporting a Don Draper haircut and, from what I can tell, no tattoos. He is what happens when your friend from middle school who your mom thought was charming grew up to rap about strip clubs and smoking weed, without losing any of that wholesome charm. The first bra was thrown on the stage about 30 seconds into the first song. At least four more would land by the end of the night, a few of which Eazy would sling over his shoulder.
The set was a run-through of almost all his hits, structured with a short break in the middle for slow jams and climaxing with uber-inspirational white rapper anthem "Me, Myself & I." Clearly heavily rehearsed, Eazy's execution of his mid-paced, lyrics-first flow was close to technically perfect. His frequent mentions for his love of Portland—where Eazy sold out his first show outside of the Bay Area at the now-defunct Backspace Café—and its women whipped the crowd into a frenzy of adulation unusual for rap shows.
G-Eazy is the kind of rare artist that bridges the gap between pop music and rap in a way that brings in the adoration of the former without sacrificing the legitimacy of the latter. His accessible badassery appeals to teenagers, but his charm makes it so their moms will listen to his pop-first songs in the car. He has pop-star sex appeal and street cred via features from E-40 and Too $hort. I don't know if the economic conditions of the internet era music industry can produce another Eminem, but Gerald Gillum has the potential for megastardom that hasn't been seen since Marshall Mathers.
All photos by Emily Joan Greene.