These are the last days of Childish Gambino.

When the artist — aka Donald Glover — takes the stage Saturday at Austin City Limits Music Festival for a headline set that critics at festivals around the country have described as a religious experience, it will be the first of two final performances. After the lights go out following his set in Zilker Park on Weekend Two, he plans to retire the R&B/rap alter ego he’s been developing for the past 9 years.

At a 2017 press event for his groundbreaking television show "Atlanta," Glover told the Huffington Post that continuing for too long would compromise the project’s punk-rock aesthetic. The retirement took longer than expected: A foot injury last fall forced Glover to postpone the end of his critically acclaimed This Is America tour and cancel his 2018 ACL Fest sets less than two weeks before the festival kicked off. He returned to live performance this year and has been a ubiquitous presence on the festival circuit all summer long. But at the Bay Area's Outside Lands festival in August, he told the crowd that the gig was his second-to-last show.

If he's true to his word, ACL Fest could actually be the end of Childish Gambino.

So as the “Summertime Magic” begins to fade, we reflect upon the hip-hop/Afropop mashups gained and the soulful wails lost. We think about the occasionally impenetrable songs that we didn’t learn to love until the third or fourth listen. It seems like a good time to remember Childish Gambino’s first show in Austin, when we applauded his punk-rock aesthetic and his desire to stretch as an artist.

Just kidding. We actually were jerks, kind of.

The most important thing to know about Glover's first Austin show as Childish Gambino is that a good portion of the audience was mad at Glover, best known at the time for his role in the NBC comedy “Community,” for not being funny.

It was 2011, and he was booked into an early South by Southwest set at the classic punk dive Red 7 (now Barracuda). The club filled to capacity.

These were the early days of Glover’s rap career. He had christened himself Childish Gambino based on the results of an online Wu-Tang Clan rap name generator and booked a few California shows the year before. But his first major outing as a musician, the IAmDonald tour, kicked off the following month. He had one EP, creatively titled “EP,” under his belt. Far from being funny, it was a brooding collection of angsty aggro-rap.

He performed with a live band, which included, weirdly, a violin. He rapped with fury, like a man with something to prove. In retrospect, the whole thing was awfully punk rock.

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At one point, he pulled a young and hungry unknown named Kendrick Lamar up on stage for a freestyle. Rapper Eric Morgan of Crew 54 was among the dubious hip-hop heads in the house.

“I remember not being a fan of Kendrick or Glover, music-wise,” he said in 2017. “I thought (Glover) was going to do stand-up and was disgusted when he started rapping.”

Still, Morgan decided to record the freestyle for his hip-hop video series, the 54 Reality Show.

“I keep it so tight, I keep it so bright, like I’m Rainbow Brite. But I’m not a girl. But I like rainbows. And when I say that, I mean different color (expletive),” Glover rapped off the dome as he found his footing. Then he segued into a fast flow, skillfully riding the rhythm and winning over part of the crowd.

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Later that year, Glover returned to Austin to play Fun Fun Fun Fest, a festival that catered to the punk spirit in us all. In 2012, he made his debut appearance at the more mainstream ACL Fest.

I still wasn’t fully onboard with Glover's rap project, but I included him in my artist picks for the festival that year, noting that the humor in his rhymes was “of the meanest variety, barely masking a raw vulnerability.”

Over the years, the Childish Gambino project evolved, transforming from emo rap into a firestorm of falsetto and fury that is both more accessible and more urgent. As Glover ends this chapter, months after taking home Grammy Awards for both song and record of the year for “This Is America" — one of the most incendiary, transformative hip-hop songs of our generation — my closing thoughts about his music from the 2012 recommendation still hold.

"The effect is intense, occasionally uncomfortable, but props to him for putting it all on the line like that."