Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All
September 29, 2011
Better than… L.A.'s other live acts (still).
Strobe lights, blood and bubble guns: Ladies n' gents, Odd Future is back in town. Last night's set at the Palladium was the kind of raucous horrorshow audiences around the world have come to expect from rap's snarling pack of adolescent punks, and L.A. came prepared.
The crowd — under the influence, and disconcertingly young — was already chomping at the bit when DJ Syd Tha Kid took to the turntables to warm up the crowd, just after 9. She spun a quick set of adrenalizing southern rap, much of which was produced by Lex Luger. Moshing and middle fingers abounded, shirts were few and far between, and the Palladium's security earned their paychecks pulling people out of the pit.
But maybe the crowd's anticipation and expectations are also why Tyler, the Creator took a step back from the spotlight
on this first night of their tour. He eschewed his formerly-typical thrashing, ski-masked opening performance (though he did bust out an incredibly fallic bubble-gun) in favor of letting Mellowhype lead the show with “64,” which he's been doing recently.
It wasn't difficult to see why: Since releasing their sophomore album Blackenedwhite on Fat Possum in July, Hodgy Beats and Left Brain have gained the confidence as performers to step out from behind Tyler's shadow. Either Hodgy had a sore throat, or he's all but dropped his formerly smooth, Wiz-esque drawl; instead, there was a new bark and bristle to his delivery that matched his aggressive flow.
Domo Genesis, Odd Future's resident uber-stoner, has had less clout with fans than his MellowHype brethren, but he made strides as an MC with last week's release of his Under The Influence mixtape. Onstage, Domo turned heads with rhymes that felt unexpectedly quick, sharp and precise.
But if this was a night to showcase Odd Future's other members, the newest member of the Wolf pack stole the show. Young Nigga, Tyler's alter-ego-cum-rap-cliche who punked us last week, made a special appearance, introduced by West Coast Sound's resident Random Black Guy Lionel Boyce. YN performed “Come Threw Lookin Clean” in all of his lisping, Jheri-curled glory.
“Yo, I was in the back takin' a shit and I heard Young Nigga came through! I missed it!” Tyler declared, re-appearing moments later, Clark Kent style. “Was he good?”
The set as a whole was flatter and tamer onstage than past Odd Future shows,* with the sound muddy and some of the MCs falling out of tempo. (Tyler forgot the lyrics at one point.) They collectively seemed a little weary, or maybe Tyler was just being careful not to break his foot again.
That said, Syd–who revealed her new subgroup The Internet with Matt Martian this week — gave an especially noteworthy performance. Her well-timed selections were always in sync and in character with the MCs; it was quickly apparent that she helps smooth the onstage chaos, and brings something intangible and important to the proceedings.
But if onstage antics were somewhat tempered last night, the situation on the floor at the Palladium was untamable. The sea of bodies was big enough that were always at least two or three moshpits going at once, and they took no small feat to avoid.
“I wanna see people punch each other! I wanna see blood!” one of the MCs declared before the collective launched into their apocalyptic anthem “Radicals.”
And there would be blood. Ben Westhoff saw a dude puking it, in fact, into the sink of the men's restroom after the show.
I, for the record, got elbowed in the face and knocked to the ground–and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Critical bias: *The last two times I saw Odd Future, they started a riot in Barcelona and Tyler broke his foot onstage. So this show was kind of inevitably going to pale in comparison.
Random notebook dump: Baby-groupies! Some of these girls were so young and scantily-dressed — like, in bras only — it was triggering a vicarious motherly guilt in me.
The crowd: The whole scene was kind of David Lynch-y: violent, sexually nauseating and fever-dream hilarious.
Overheard in the crowd: “I feel sick…let's get t-shirts!”
More photos on the next page: