LIVE REVIEW: Childish Gambino in Boston, MA 09.12.18

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“This is not a concert, this is church” Childish Gambino (real name Donald Glover) exclaims as he paces up and down the catwalk jutting into the middle of Boston’s TD Garden. He calls for fans to put their phones down and live in this moment, because it is their last chance to experience this again. Glover announces that this will be the last Childish Gambino tour, inviting fans to keep this experience for themselves as he led a them to a sacred place of spirituality, exploring love, heartbreak, and justice through song.

The show began as ghostly wisps projected onto the black curtain covering the stage. Excitement grew as a sped up recording played throughout the arena, adding to the ethereal ambiance. The curtain dropped, revealing and empty stage to a confused crowd as Glover rose from the center of the catwalk, illuminated by a single stream of blue light accompanied by an unknown track, potentially from his highly anticipated forthcoming fourth LP. Wasting no time, Glover began “Algorhythm”, a soul-inspired unfinished track ticket-buyers were able to download before the show. The song incorporates gospel and biting raps, setting the tone for what was to come.

Glover is not one to pinhole himself, showcasing he and his full band’s versatility through the first few songs. He flawlessly transitions through the romantic and dreamy “Summertime Magic” to the eccentric “I. The Worst Guys” and “II. Worldstar” to the funk-laden, groovy vibes in “Boogieman”. From classic-rock guitar solos, gospel choirs, a hip-hop dance team, and everything in between, it was clear Glover looked to all corners of music for inspiration for this show.

Amid his multi-industry accomplishments, from Golden Globes to Grammys, Donald Glover still manages to be judicious in his observations of culture and society, culminating in one of 2018’s most accurate depictions of blackness in America “This Is America”. The song explores the struggles of racial inequality and gun violence, offering a portal that looks deeper into the hardships faced by the black community now and throughout history. It was an extremely moving and powerful performance, complete with the African dance that earned Glover the 2018 VMA for Best Choreography.

And while the powerful nature of the song and Glover’s moving live delivery of its message rang throughout the arena, it was disappointing to see a large population of Vineyard Vines and basketball jersey clad white fans just didn’t understand the message as they unapologetically sang along to every word, including the n-word.

While this may be the last time fans are able to experience Childish Gambino live, he gave them a memory that will last a lifetime. “I want everyone to fell what the gon’ feel tonight” he exclaimed, encouraging everyone to get lost in his music and express themselves, fully and shamelessly. It seems strange for Glover to end his time as Childish Gambino on what is undoubtedly the top of his musical career; with his first Billboard No. 1 song, his first Grammy, and Gold Certified album. But as they say, all good things must come to an end. Childish Gambino will die with the release of this forthcoming album, but Glover leaves behind a lasting legacy that will continue to have a deep impact on the industry and society at large.

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