Childish Gambino Showcases New Sound at PHAROS Shows

By Eddy Vega  |  09/06/2016

In late June, Childish Gambino tweeted out a link to an app called PHAROS, which ultimately revealed a weekend of shows in the desert of Joshua Tree, Calif., where he would perform new music.

After selling out in just six minutes, he added an extra two late night performances for Friday and Saturday. Fans didn't know what to expect for the event, and neither did we. Having not released any new music since the Kauai EP in 2014, Gambino (aka Donald Glover) has been very quiet.

We attended the very first performance of the weekend, during which attendees are treated to an outdoor amphitheater screening of the first three episodes of Donald Glover's new FX show, Atlanta, which premieres on FX Sept. 6th. After, we entered a 60-foot high dome, where the performance was held. Before entering, however, fans (including us) were asked to place their mobile phones inside a personal Yondr bag that couldn't be unlocked until after the show -- in an effort to prevent the leak of any recording of Gambino's new music, which has yet to get a release date.

Once inside, the dome doubled as a screen, playing visual that made the audience feel as though they were traveling through space, visiting planets crawling with monsters and other lifeforms. Animations were a major highlight of the show, which was conceptualized by Gambino himself, alongside Wolf + Rothstein.

Backed by a full band and a live choir, Childish Gambino finally emerged shirtless, with his body and face painted as if he were a tribal shaman, with braids that went down to his waist.

As for his new music, it is unlike anything he's done prior. It features plenty of falsetto singing, with next to no rapping. In what can best be described as "an R&B Pink Floyd vibe", the music was trippy and colorful, with instrumentation consisting of jazzy bass lines, complex drum beats and funky guitar.

Unfortunately, it was difficult to make out lyrics, due to how loud it was inside the dome, but it appears Childish Gambino has evolved with a new sound. Whether or not fans will be pleased, that still remains to be seen.

Photo credit: Credit Ibra Ake (Wolf + Rothstein) & Karen Capalaran / BallerStatus