Childish Gambino shows vocal talent in Denver on last tour ever

Henry Netherland

In recent years, Donald Glover also known as Childish Gambino has had a hand in every aspect of significant American popular culture including television, movies, internet content and most importantly music.

Childish Gambino performing at Pepsi Center in Denver. Courtesy of Henry Netherland

The modern-day Renaissance man has come a long way from his roots as an amateur pop rapper. Just at the peak of his career, in at the 2017 Governor’s Ball, he revealed that the next Childish Gambino album would be his last one.

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Before retiring this aspect of his career, Gambino decided to go on one last North American tour with his “This Is America Tour,” named after his smash hit earlier this summer. He was originally scheduled to appear in Denver’s Pepsi Center on Oct. 9, but he had to postpone it to Dec. 4 due to a foot injury. So how did Gambino end off his legacy?

Vince Staples

Opening for Gambino was Long Beach, California rapper Vince Staples whose recent album, “FM!” was a great success for him.

Staples was a bit of an odd pick to perform at the Pepsi Center considering that his edgy, dark lyricism is not the ideal sound for capturing the attention of such a massive audience. He managed to make it work, however through an energetic and charismatic performance. It is fascinating to see how well Staples manages to control his breath in high altitude despite being a well known asthmatic.

Staples’ set rating: 7/10

Childish Gambino

From the start, Gambino reminded the audience of how special of an occasion this show truly was.

“If you bought a ticket to this show, then you have bought a ticket to the last Childish Gambino tour ever,” Gambino said.

For over an hour, he traveled through the essentials of his discography aside from his mixtapes and his debut, “Camp” which is understandable, considering how poorly those projects have aged. He even gave fans a taste of the new material that would appear on his final album.

It was hard to say what it would sound like because there wasn’t a lot of cohesion between the songs. However, I can say that they were not as experimental as his last album, “Awaken My Love!” but they were not as poppy as some of the songs on “Because the Internet.”

Throughout the set, Gambino was supported by beautiful backgrounds and visual aids that were simultaneously surreal and grand. He really used lighting and stage design to its fullest advantage.

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Something I appreciated about Gambino’s set was how much he experimented dynamically with some of his already established songs. The song “Riot” is one of the wildest and experimental songs in his discography and in a live setting, Gambino removed a lot of the bells and whistles in favor of isolating only the necessary melodies. On the other hand, songs like “Redbone” and “Terrified” were some of the mellower cuts on “Awaken My Love!” but in concert, they were some of the loudest and most abrasive songs in the entire show.

As much as I enjoyed “Awaken, My Love!,” I can acknowledge there were some major vocal shortcomings on the record. This was not the case at all in concert, and Gambino sounded better than ever live. Not only was he able to hit bright tenor notes flawlessly, but he also had a killer falsetto that was as solid as a brick.

Gambino’s set rating: 10/10

It is a shame to see Gambino retiring fairly early in his musical career. It is important to remember the numerous generation-defining songs he has delivered to us over the years. Gambino fans should cherish the radical musical developments he has made over the years as well as appreciate how well his music has matured.

Collegian reporter Henry Netherland can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @NetherlandHenry.