Performing in England for his first time since 2015, Childish Gambino headlined and closed Londons Lovebox Festival Saturday, July 14th, 2018. Gambino’s unrefined spirit filled the stage in West London’s Gunnersbury Park, the festivals new location after its usual Hackney spot.
Surfacing to the crowd under bright white lights the 34-year-old opened his set with the leading track “Me and Your Mama” from his latest album Awaken, My Love!. Skipping, strutting and spinning his way around the stage before throwing himself to the floor, you realised what kind of set you were about to witness.
Interweaving between old and new, he performed tracks from two of his three studio albums (soon to become four), his Kauai mixtape, as well as just-released tracks from his Summer Pack. Both Summertime Magic and Feels Like Summer felt like they were written for innocent moments like these. A hot summer night surrounded by friends swaying along to beats drifting away in the breeze. They both made for truly magical moments within the set, as they gained a deeper meaning compared to first listen to them through phone speakers at home.
Some argued that the multi-talented star would be out of place as a headliner at this years Lovebox due to barely making charts in the UK. This clearly wasn’t the case as every word of his uncharted tracks Sober, V. 3005 and Redbone were belted back by devoted fans.
For the majority of the set Gambino let his music do the talking but he made no attempt to cover up his political views as he told the crowd he was “very proud to see that big ballon” and that the UK “gotta fight for that shit” as he referred to the protests that took place the day before in central London.
The set ended with his biggest hit to date, This Is America. It’s equally shocking but striking message swallowed the crowd as his eerie screams and overstated facial expressions were matched up with dauntless choreography.
Gambino stole the festival. He put out a performance overflowing with passion and character. His lyrics often filled with deep, meaningful messages about violence and black suffering felt powerful, positive and uplifting as his band brought funk-filled beats to accompany his raw and electric energy. His performance was truly captivating as he showed the UK that he wasn’t just a rapper or a singer but a true artist.