Childish Gambino could barely contain the news: shortly before he took the stage for his headlining set at Outside Lands on Saturday night (Aug. 10), he was informed that his performance marked an important milestone for the festival — and he blurted that into a microphone as soon as he could.
"I just found out that this is the biggest crowd they've ever had at Outside Lands!" he exclaimed mere minutes after making his entrance. That was easy to believe considering how packed the polo field was in Golden Gate Park, but the show was a special one for Donald Glover beyond the massive crowd: he's nearing the end of his This Is America tour, which he intends to be his last, and he left everything on the Land's End stage (and a bit on the field as well).
After climbing up to the platform on the light rig in the center of the field at the top of the show, he sprinted into a set list that covered it all — ample Because the Internet material, fan favorites off Awaken, My Love! (namely set closer "Redbone"), smash singles ("This Is America,"), works in progress that hushed the audience in moments of contemplation or got them dancing. At one point, he had his band vamp so he could get closer to the thousands who'd stuck it out through a dreary afternoon to secure a spot as close to the stage as possible. "If this is the biggest crowd, I gotta get a better look!" he declared in the midst of "World Star" before grabbing the phones of a few hysterical audience members and posing for selfies. Newish track "Human Sacrifice," which has been regularly worked into his set list, received the most celebratory treatment, complete with lasers, a field-wide dance party and Glover's best moves.
Achievements aside, this festival was a special one for Glover on a personal note: he was was elated to return to the Bay Area, which he dubbed his "second home" before singing Oakland's — and Oakland native Ryan Coogler in particular — praises.
"Telegraph Ave. is a real ass song!" he said before sharing a moving anecdote about the Black Panther director. “When I lost my dad, [Ryan] Coogler was the first person who hit me,” he said. “I feel like everybody here kind of understands — the Bay makes you understand how close and how separated we all are, how you can just go over a bridge and everything changes and we’re all just people. I like to do these shows because I get to see the future right in front of me."
He then dedicated "Riot" to the city, and worked himself into a frenzy that had him dancing until he was out of breath and collapsed on the stage at the end of the song.
To consider this as one of the final Childish Gambino performances is a bummer, frankly, as Glover is on top of his game: Outside Lands was an exceptional showing for the distinguished triple-threat, and those expecting to see him play his final shows at Austin City Limits Festival in October should prepare for one spell-binding show. And hey: maybe this one will break another festival record, too.