And that’s how you go out in style.
Childish Gambino — aka Donald Glover — headlined the American Express stage at Austin City Limits Music Festival for the second weekend on Saturday. The set was a notable one for Glover: He’s indicated in interviews that he will retire the Childish Gambino name after his ACL Fest run.
“This is our very last (expletive) show,” he told the crowd, as the last This Is America tour date started.
Like his Weekend One set, Glover turned in an electrifying experience. He sang, he rapped, he danced — man, he danced. He began the show on an illuminated platform.
“Everybody wanna get chose like Moses,” he rapped as he made his way down the aisle parting two walls of screaming fans, eyes wide and choir lifting their voices. Glover said he was going to take the crowd to church, and he got the vibes down pat. He went out of his way to make connections, like when he went down to the front of the audience and advised one young woman on the proper phone orientation for filming, or when he told the festival that on a scale of one to 10, they were at a 31.
» More at ACL Fest: Donald Glover’s first and last stands in Austin
The setlist was well-stocked: “This Is America,” of course; “Because the Internet” cuts like “Worldstar,” “The Worst Guys,””Sweatpants” and “3005”; “Sober,” “Summertime Magic” and “Feels Like Summer” from the Gambino-goes-tropical era; and “Awaken, My Love!” highlights like “Have Some Love,” “Boogieman” and the unstoppable “Redbone.” And yes, if you were positive that you heard a little of “Bonfire” from Childish Gambino’s debut LP “Camp,” you were not hallucinating.
Throughout, Glover’s attention to detail was apparent with every hip swivel and every soulful scream. The cinematography on the big display any time he went out to the audience felt like it was popping off of a storyboard. I would not be surprised if a concert film materialized someday.
Any worries that the retirement of the Childish Gambino name means the end of Glover’s musical career were soothed when he talked about working on new material, like the vibrant song “Human Sacrifice.” He said he needed the crowd to act like it was the last time and the first time they’d heard it.
Glover ended the show crawling on the ground of the park. He made his way back to the stage, covered in grass and sweat, and said "thank you" before he set down the mic and the lights went dark.