Better than... an Odd Future concert without carnival rides
Earlier this week, Tyler, the Creator, professional enfante terriblé and ringmaster of the Odd Future collective, comfortably sprawled himself on the couch as a guest on The Arsenio Hall Show. He was fully reclined and lackadaisical when discussing politics (he referred to President Obama as "a n-word that figured it out") but, seconds later, when asked about the Odd Future carnival -- aka Camp Flog Gnaw -- Tyler was simultaneously engaged and aloof: "I'm actually throwing a carnival Saturday," he said, "'cause I like carnivals and I'm in a position to do awesome stuff like that. So if you're not weird or nothing, you come to the carnival."
Tyler's definition of weird and yours may vary, though. Saturday's day-into-night event -- the second of its kind -- at the L.A. Coliseum brought out heaps of varied Odd Future fans. Two hours after the gates opened, an hours-long line, punctuated by at least a half-dozen hot dog stands, wrapped the circumference on the Sports Arena. By the time the sun set, the area was literally thick to the hills with kids -- from those dedicatedly moshing to and intensely recording the performances, to those taking in the smattering of carnival rides, to those sprawled out on any patch of lawn they could rest their makeshift pillows on.
Much like the group itself, Camp Flog Gnaw had no true center. Sure, there was Camp Stage, which hosted performances by acts like Frank Ocean, The Internet, Earl Sweatshirt, ScHoolboy Q, Mac Miller and others. But that stage only acted as a center of gravity for portions of the attendees. The rest were more than content to spend their time riding the OF-branded Ferris wheel, playing in the Mardi Gras house, waiting on long queues for overpriced foodstuffs or simply milling about, taking in the sites and the music.
In between sets, the Black Eyed Peas' Monkey Business album was piped through the sound system. It was an incredibly ironic choice -- perhaps a joke, perhaps the equivalent of turning on the house lights, perhaps a business deal. One can never tell with these things, as far as Odd Future is concerned.
Downstairs was a full skate park with a required waiver:
BECAUSE IF YOU ARE AN IDIOT AND DECIDE TO GET HURT, WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE
ARE NOT GOING TO GET SUED BY YOUR PARENT/ GUARDIAN BECAUSE YOU DECIDED TO BE A STUPID BITCH
When MellowHigh (the trio comprised of Odd Future members Domo Genesis, Hodgy Beats and Left Brain) turned the skate park into the Underground stage -- rapping from atop the ramps, jumping in the crowd and causing general mayhem -- there was a nigh-tangible shot of energy.
The center of the activity looked like an all-night rave with shoes being tossed about in homage to Tyler. But those on the outskirts were nonplussed. Very few people not in the throngs seemed to know what was going on ("I think it was Trash Talk," said one girl) but they were just fine in their not knowing. Up top, most of the kids were unaware that a performance had taken place.
That's not to say that Odd Future fans don't care. The great coup of the group is that they've managed to corral the urban freaks and geeks into a movement that's much like the white trash fringe of the Insane Clown Posse. And much like ICP's Gathering of the Juggalos, Camp Flog Gnaw was a calling of culturally disenfranchised misfits. The audience was overwhelming teenaged and mostly White -- the Black girls looked like hip-hop punk rockers and the Black guys looked like members of Odd Future. Their footwear ranged from Vans and fuzzy animal slippers to Doc Martens and oversized platform boots (and, in the case of some, one solitary piece of footwear, the other having been tossed).
Their allegiance to Odd Future varies, too. At one point, Tyler ran down to the skate park, leading a stampede of less than a dozen people. The few following him were beatific in their pursuit; others -- even those sporting the exclusive bright blue backpacks that marked them as the whales who purchased the $199 Flog Gnaw package -- barely shrugged or missed a bite of their pizza as the mastermind of the day's events stomped by their feet. In the crowd, a few who knew the times of every scheduled performance would breathlessly run through the set list and could probably tell you what OFWGKTADGAFLLBBLSBFBN means. But, despite their level of dedication to the Odd Future brand and its labyrinth of projects and meanings, the kids were just happy to be there -- to not be alone or marginalized; to be surrounded by like minds and distractions like Whack-A-Mole and spinning rides like the Yo-Yo.
And that's Odd Future's genius. The event made information scarce -- there were no announcements of performances, no host interacting with the audience between sets --and successfully presented itself as spontaneous, which is a rare feat, considering the logistics involved. Tyler knows how his audience thinks, so he knows what they want. He's a n-word that gets it.
Earlier this week, while giving a radio interview,
Tyler referred to Kanye West Kanye referred to Tyler as his "mentor."
Near the end of the night, during Tyler's set, when Kanye emerged onstage, he wasn't viewed as a pop intruder or some old guy that snuck in, but with cheers and applause.
Kanye seemed to know the importance of being let into the Odd Future community. He didn't break into an auto-tuned diatribe; instead performed his track "Late" from 2007's Late Registration and smiled, genuinely and gleefully. Even pop's reigning badass knows he can't outbadass Odd Future.
Personal Bias: I'm too old for this shit.
The Crowd: Kids that are too cool for Tumblr, but too freakish to be cool.
Random Notebook Dump: Is that Taco? No, that's not Taco. Looks like Taco, though... Is that Frank Ocean? No, that's not Frank Ocean. Looks like Frank Ocean, though... Is that... Oh, nevermind.
See also: Mellowhigh on the Odd Future Carnival
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