Right off the top he made it clear for the audience. “If you have tickets tonight, you’re at the very last Childish Gambino show ever, and I love you for that,” said Donald Glover. “I feel it in my soul.”
The multi-talented entertainer was playing the second of back-to-back sold out concerts at The Forum in Inglewood. It had been long rumored that this tour would be his swan song. Even with new music set to release in 2019, the Childish Gambino moniker appears to be done performing live.
Shirtless on center stage, Glover, dressed in khakis commanded the crowd from the onset and laid out some ground rules.
“Put your phones down, this is an experience. If you came here just to hear your favorite song you should go home and do that right now,” he announced to cheers. “This is not a concert, this is church. I want you to feel something tonight!”
His set began with the instrumental track “Atavista” and quickly moved into “Algorythm,” a yet to be released song. The stage production was on point, featuring a full band, dancers, and a visually stunning light show.
The energy in the building was addictive, as the crowd sang and rapped along to each word. “The Worst Guys” (sans Chance The Rapper) is an all-time classic that Gambino played after. Jumping around the catwalk and engaging with fans, you could tell he was flourishing in the limelight.
He dove further into the archives with “Worldstar,” and mid-song told a fan she was recording a video improperly. “Turn that shit sideways,” he exclaimed as fans went hysterical.
Suddenly Glover disappeared into the darkness. A camera crew followed him as fans watched on the big screens above. He was walking through a back tunnel and emerged in the crowd, stage left.
“Stand Tall” began quietly, from his Grammy award-winning album Awaken, My Love! The interactions between artist and fan was peeking. Everyone felt the vigor in the room and Gambino fed off that. He danced through the crowd and made his way back to the stage.
A heart felt tribute was made shortly after when Glover revealed the loss of his father a few weeks prior.
“I wanted him to hear my new music,” he expressed. His father’s message was profound. “I don’t need to hear it, it’s going to be great,” Glover shared. Leaping into “Riot,” another standout track from his latest album had the party moving once more.
The vibe mellowed out as “Feels Like Summer” began and a chill party ensued.
Looking at his facial expressions, Glover was in complete control and at peace with his career arc. From a writer on 30 Rock and stand up comedian, to starring in Community, and now the Golden Globe award-winning hit show Atlanta, he seems to know exactly what he wants and how to get there.
Performing a new song titled “Human Sacrifice,” the stage turned into a disco infused light show and Glover’s octave range was on full display. Quickly things changed up as the viral sensation “This Is America” started and dancers on stage mimicked the choreography from the music video. The crowd noise was reaching a crescendo.
A break in the action showed Glover backstage sipping water and putting his hand to his ear, getting the crowd hyped even more for an encore. He made his way back to the delight of all and jumped into “Sober,” from his Kauai EP. The hits kept coming as “V. 3005” settled into a groove, and no one seemed interested in the night ending.
Glover then performed “Saturday,” a song released in early 2018. He brought a handful of fans on stage to get down and boogie, and hugged each of them at they exited.
Saving the best for last, Glover and his tight band unleashed “Redbone” onto Southern California. The eccentric singer raced along as the audience sang with him in jubilance. He thanked Los Angeles once more, waved to the people and called it a night.
For whatever reason, he’s chosen to close this chapter on the Childish Gambino persona. Perhaps the expectations are too high to exceed, or he simply has new endeavors to explore. On this night, we were lucky to be there in celebration and say our goodbyes.
Michael Silver is a journalist and photographer based in Southern California. He covers music, sports, technology, and streetwear. Tips & pitches: firstname.lastname@example.org