By Daniel Paiz
There are so many adjectives that fit Childish Gambino’s alleged last show in Denver via the This Is America Tour: immersive, otherworldly, indescribable.
The Mile High City showed up for a concert and left having attended church. But first, it had to be prepared for the service with an opener.
Vince Staples sets the night up
The Long Beach native worked his way methodically through his catalog of hits, performing “Blue Suede”, “Norf Norf”, “745” and more.
Unfortunately this particular Denver crowd did not appear all that familiar with the energetic emcee. Staples wasn’t deterred as he performed and worked on getting the crowd involved.
By the end of his performance, the crowd seemed more receptive, and ideally this crowd looks up the California emcee later on this week.
Get it together, Denver fans. Anyway, the stage was set after about a half hour for the man of the night.
Gambino started with a couple of newer songs, including the limited release of “Algorythm”, which set the tone for the rest of the night as the music built up and the spotlights shifted focus from all over the arena to a single one above the singer’s head.
The singer/rapper/writer/actor/producer/etc. spoke to the crowd shortly after to inform us this is his last show in Denver.
However, we were not attending a concert; this was to be an experience, a church of all of us together to feel something. It could be something weird. But putting away our phones to experience the night would help.
Fast forward through “Summertime Magic”, “The Worst Guys”, “Worldstar” and others, and the night felt heavier as it went on.
You could feel the back and forth journey Gambino was taking us on; the old stuff he rapped profusely, the new stuff he sang with his soul bared to the arena.
Feels Like Summer
As the songs shifted from funky (“Boogieman”, “Riot”) to reflective (“Feels Like Summer”, “This Is America”), the music became more and more enveloping.
The band created such musical depths for one to fall into that the crowd became part of the band, so to speak. The musicians, vocalists, and dancers too fell into place as Donald Glover transported us all to that experience he promised at the beginning of the show.
What makes it so hard to put the show into a definitive description is the range of music incorporated.
There was funk with gospel. Rap with rock and roll. Soul intertwined with all of it.
One person I spoke to after the show mentioned it felt like parts of Stevie Wonder and Kendrick Lamar put together.
Even that comparison doesn’t do this show justice.
The encore did not disappoint, extending that feeling of all-encompassing bliss another handful of songs.
It started with “Sober” and ended with “Redbone”. There were so many memorable moments throughout the show that I’m surprised I even captured the videos and photos above that I did.
It was one of those nights where you wanted it to go on forever, because in some way it felt like Glover wanted the same. It can’t be said any simpler, he bared his soul onstage.
You don’t see that done so sincerely and openly, at least not in my experiences.
Glover might have given us our last time with Childish Gambino, but that doesn’t mean he’s done with music.
Tonight might have been church, but it likely wasn’t the final sermon.