Gambino's Governor's Ball set drew one of the biggest crowds at the New York City festival.
Donald Glover dances like a man who’s loving life. As Childish Gambino, he released one of 2016’s greatest R&B albums. As himself, he is the writer, director, producer and star of Golden Globe-winning comedy series, Atlanta and is about to take on one of Star Wars’ most-loved roles – Lando Calrissian – in the new Han Solo spin off movie.
Gambino is a busy guy – superstar busy – which is why he’s only playing one live show in 2017 – New York’s Governor’s Ball 2017. We were there to see it.
As the slow groove of 'Me and Your Mama' starts to play, Gambino appears on stage, wearing a white jump suit to a crowd stretching back for miles.
The light show starts and begins to take the thousands of Gambino fans packed into Randall's Island Park on a kaleidoscopic trip back through the funky sounds of 'Awaken, My Love' - his third album. The wail of 'Boogieman' kicks in. The crowd erupts.
At one point Glover stops and looks at the sprawling crowd. "This is the only show I'm going to do this year and I wanted to do it right here. I'm going to try and blow the shit off this motherfucker".
And boy, does he deliver. Gambino body rolls and shimmies across stage like a guy having the time of his life. The set is as versatile as his music, effortlessly switching it up from hip hop bangers like '3005' to soul tracks like ‘Stand Tall.’
He pauses to thank his fans. "When I first started out, I saw every type of people come to my show. White people, black people. At my first ever show in Baltimore. I saw this goth guy in a dress and make up. He said 'thank you for playing'. That shit was special.”
But it’s before set finalé ‘Redbone’ that he plays his trump card. He starts to tell a story about being a party. The crowd aren’t quite following until someone finally twigs – he’s talking about the meme. You know, the one that goes “What Redbone would sound like while you’re making out in the bathroom at a party” or "down a manhole" or various other scenarios concocted by the internet.
He never completes the reference, but as 'Redbone''s first note drops, it’s the perfect end to a set by one of the most brilliant creative minds of a generation. Gambino gets it. And he just proved that to an island full of people in New York City.