Last weekend over 40,000 packed into Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for Tyler, The Creator’s two-day music festival and carnival, Camp Flog Gnaw. The robust line-up included expected names such as Odd Future affiliate, The Internet, whose funk-inflected set took flight on the wings of Syd the Kid’s diaphanous vocals. Between sets guests grabbed brews and cocktails from beer gardens, and sobered up on food from Randy’s Donuts, Action Bronson’s “Fuck! That’s Delicious” food truck and more. Braver attendees also split their time between the over a dozen carnival rides capable of unsettling even the strongest of stomachs.
Other highlights included an impromptu EarlWolf reunion from Tyler and Earl Sweatshirt and a timely performance of “FDT” (Fuck Donald Trump) led by surprise guest YG. Lil Wayne and DJ/producer Kaytranada closed out the first night while the second night saw experimental hip-hop group Death Grips, and ScHoolboy Q end the festival on a high note on the Camp and Flog stages respectively. It’s nearly impossible to pick favorites in a situation where offerings run the gamut from Ms. Badu to Death Grips, but nevertheless, here are a few of the sets that seemed to really electrify the audience.
Tyler, The Creator
When you’re performing at your own festival you kind of have to kill it, especially when an automated audio reel of your voice is the first thing that greets guests upon entrance. Outfitted in Golf Wang FW16, Tyler, in his typical self-depreciating manner, proceeded to entertain the shit out of the crowd while reaching back to his early repertoire and also performing more current offerings.
Though the rapper claimed to have no desire to get political, he undeniably hyper-aware of the current climate, inviting guests to put their phones away and truly connect with a rare, carefree moment. Tyler also ended the set by expressing excitement at the number of black youth he saw in the audience before inviting YG to perform “Fuck Donald Trump.” It seemed to be just what people wanted to hear as thousands screamed the hook with the kind of abandon only alcohol, free Ferris Wheel rides and churros can produce.
The perpetually lit sibling duo that is Rae Sremmurd did not disappoint. The two commandeered the stage with the help of the Sremm Life Crew, whipping the crowd into an energetic frenzy with songs like “Black Beatles,” the single that spawned the #MannequinChallenge that has swept through social media faster than the bubonic plague wiped out 60% of Europe’s population. And in these times, the irony of lines like, “up like Trump,” were not lost on the audience, but in the spirit of the turn up, the party didn’t stop.
Chance The Rapper
Not only did Lil Chano from 79th spend most of his set running full throttle from one side of the stage to the other, he also made it a point to dive from his perch directly into the arms of the waiting crowd. Outside of that, Chance also brought a few friends to the stage – namely D.R.A.M. to help out with “Broccoli” and ” Francis and the Lights to for “Summer Friends”. The rapper came into 2016 still on the cusp, but co-signs from heavyweights like Beyonce, Jay-Z and Kanye West, alongside the positive reception to projects like Coloring Book, have certainly secured him as a voice to be reckoned with in 2017.
The turnout for Kaytranada’s set seemed to be comprised primarily of ultra-dedicated fans; that was likely because his time slot overlapped with Lil Wayne. That didn’t stop the Haitian-Canadian DJ from instructing those who came through to, “move mufuckas.” And let’s be honest, if you can’t dance to a Kaytranada set you might not have a soul. Highlights included old favorites like Kay’s version of Janet Jackson’s “If” and Azealia Banks’ Pharrell-featured “ATM Jam,” as well as selects from 99.9% like “Glowed Up,” which features another stellar performer, Anderson. Paak.
Erykah Badu delivered her set in the way only Erykah Badu could. She channeled the feelings of disappointment and fear so many of the young audience expressed into a rather eloquent speech about the drawbacks of media and politics in general. She also looked fly AF with a feather-detailed nose ring and a necklace that was nothing short of epic. Her actually performance was a heartfelt retrospective on years worth of creativity in the music industry. It’s certainly refreshing to see a legendary artist still be so enthusiastic about interfacing with her audience.
“That shit gave me goosebumps” – this is how a friend described Anderson .Paak’s set. Considering this particular friend can be a bit of a snob (no shade) that’s high praise. The California-born r&b crooner opened his Sunday night performance with “Come Down” before calling in the calvary (not that he needed one) in the form of Mac Miller and Domo Genesis, who was also part of Camp Flog Gnaw’s lineup.
.Paak’s music has an emotive quality that bleeds through even when you’re just taking a casual Soundcloud listen, that quality is infinitely more powerful and moving live. Like Tyler and Earl, .Paak seemed to relish the sheer amount of brown faces he saw in the crowd, taking time out of his set to comment on how satisfying it was to know so many POC turned out to support the festival.
Also check out what went down behind the scenes of the festival here.
- Photographer: Bukunmi Grace