G-Eazy (photo: Estefany Gonzalez)
Gerald Gillum is a Bay Area man through and through. Best known as G-Eazy, the Oakland rapper has toured the world, made it on to mainstream radio stations, and hit some of the biggest festival stages. But when G-Eazy plays a hometown show, it’s not just a celebration for the multi-platinum producer himself, it’s a moment for thousands of fans from all different regions of the Bay to reminisce over the long journey it took to get there.
G-Eazy came up from our beloved underground Bay Area music scene as ‘Young Gerald,’ then made his way to the top of the charts by playing small venues like the New Parish, a small club across the street from his other sold-out Bay Area show at Oakland’s Fox Theater later tonight. He played anywhere and everywhere that would allow him, and yesterday, as the stage coated in smoke and the lights came up, he told the 8,500 fans watching his set at a Bill Graham Civic Auditorium: “King Gerald is home. Not young, king.”
In other situations, the words could be mistaken for arrogance. In this case, it’s the saga of a man who’s grateful and reminds his fans he’s blessed in between songs. He belts “Bay Area” at the top of his lungs each chance he gets as if he has to remind himself he’s actually home. The story is simple, one the artist told on his third studio album The Beautiful and The Damned, an autobiographical masterpiece which shares both dark and pleasant stories of his musical journey. He had big dreams, one’s said included playing yesterday’s packed venue, and worked until they came true.
More than just a backstory, the title “king” is a perfect word to describe the distinction between G-Eazy’s early days and his performances now. The dark black jacket he wore at the start of his set and the beautiful all-white ensemble toward the end (which included a sweet fringe leather jacket) an excellent example of the attention to detail he’s developed throughout his career and a perfect display to represent The Beautiful and The Damned. The giant fire cannons placed on the stage went off in sync with his dance moves and the projection screens that produced elegant images behind the Bay Area native, a fitting background for a person thousands of fans welcomed home like a favorite legend. The look of pure bliss on the three Hell’s Angels bikers in front of me mirrored the smiles of the teen girls near me who swore G-Eazy pointed at them when dedicating a song to “the prettiest girl in the Bay.” It all encompassed the glory of Bay Area royalty coming home.
The theme of nobility was further reinforced throughout the night, with the star-studded duo of “Him & I” with his current partner Halsey and a guest appearance from P-Lo. Not to say the night was full of only G-Eazy’s latest work — in fact, older songs like “I Mean it,” off 2014’s These Things Happen, were among some of the biggest crowd-pleasers. New songs like “Sober,” a confessional track about drunken regrets and finding balance, or “Pray For Me,” about faith, coming to terms with fame and fighting his demons, were just as well received as popular songs like “Me, Myself and I” or “No Limit.” Each song on the setlist told a tale of the instances it took to return to a kingdom.