Odd Future hates me.
Okay, so not me specifically (at least I don't think), but what I do: write about music. The group's relationship with the media has been complicated. They wound of up on the cover of Billboard, them promptly trashed the magazine at a SxSW showcase gig. Nearly every music publication in the country has written something about the group, but the group has remains antagonistic: Last week, member Left Brain was accused of slapping a female photographer (she's pressed charges).
Where the hype begins and the real animosity begins remains blurry, but here's the fact. When OFWGKTA de facto frontman Tyler, the Creator rapped "Oh, not again!/Another critic writing report/I'm stabbing any blogging faggot hipster with a Pitchfork," in "Yonkers," I was, in fact, scribbling in my notebook for this very blog, drawing curious stares from members of the sold-out crowd.
I've read insightful think pieces about Odd Future all year, some in defense of the group's punk rock theatrics, some blasting the group's lyrics as homophobic, misogynistic, and violent. I have very little to add to that. I've listened to the MellowHype's Blackenedwhite, Tyler's Goblin, and Domo Genesis' Under the Influence mixtape, but what's left to say? Yeah, they can be incredibly offensive and, yeah, they can be incredibly compelling.
This week, our own Chris Piel wrote about the group's fanbase, arguing that as the hype dies down, the group still will boast a dedicated following. If last night is any indication, the hype hasn't died down, or the hardcore are legion. The Marquee Theatre was sold-out. It was the last night of the tour, and the merch table was nearly drained of shirts and albums (the group tossed a considerable number of free shirts from the stage, too). The group seemed exhausted, given to long, inside joke-riddled asides between songs. They shouted "Free Earl," and later, "Fuck Earl, that nigga dead." They called each other queers and losers (at one point, someone said, "Your mom's a faggot"), and, yeah, it felt kind of weird being in a giant room full of people chuckling at the slur.
"Jesus Christ, what the fuck is up, Arizona?" Tyler asked, surveying the crowd.
"There are way more people than I thought in here. Shout to to ASU. Fuck U of A," added Domo Genesis, whom we profiled right as he was leaving ASU. The weirdo-humor points to a bright future for Loiter Squad, the sketch/prank/whatever show the Wolf Gang is developing for Adult Swim.
The performance itself was nearly as loose as the banter. Songs like "Transylvania," "F666 the Police," and "Under the Influence" were heavy, with the members of the group rapping over each other at rapid-fire speed. Syd tha Kid, Odd Future's lone female and resident DJ, showed off her mixing skills throughout the night (even issuing a dubstep-styled drop during her opening set). Being the last night of the tour, there were a few surprises. Tyler did an a cappella take on "Fish," and Mike G did a full-on freestyle.
"Man, there are some weird characters in the crowd at our shows," Domo remarked. He was right; the crowd boasted everything from aggro bros, flashing 20-somethings, misfit goths, hipsters, and Bone Thugs fans (which prompted a hilarious Bone Thugs-style riff from Mike G). Surprisingly, the crowd was pretty well behaved. They tossed some shoes on stage, but mostly danced and rapped along (the pair of 13-year-old white kids screaming "smoke a blunt/fuck a bitch" made me laugh).
For all the aggression and violence in Odd Future's lyrics, it didn't seem as if anyone was there to make trouble or fight. Well, a couple of folks did get tossed out early on, but for the most part, people seemed in the right headspace to get called "cocksuckers" by Odd Future and, well, like it.
"Let me say two things," Tyler concluded at the end of the show. "I'm so fucking happy this tour is fucking over, and I'm also happy that the last show was as awesome as this."
OFWGKTA ended with its anthem, "Kill People Burn Shit Fuck School." The crowd cheered along, repeating every word. Again, it was kind of weird. I could spend all day pondering at what this says about society, about young people, about what we expect from entertainment and what we ask of our artists. But mostly, it just seemed like a bunch of kids having a good time. I'm curious to see how Odd Future develops, and what statements will come from the diverse camp in the future.
For now? Well, I'm glad I didn't get smacked, but I guess it would have made for a better story.
Last Night: Odd Future at Marquee Theatre
The Crowd: Youngins' of all stripes mostly. A lot of high-schoolers.
Overheard in the Bathroom: "You high-schoolers out-rage EVERYONE."
Favorite Moment: I think I like Domo's more laid-back flow best, so I enjoyed hearing "Under the Influence."
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