The 3rd annual Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival took over the LA Coliseum Saturday, and I wish it had lasted more than one day. Packed with carnival rides, a skate park, artisanal (and not so artisanal) foods and designed-to-lose carnival games (with real-life swindling carnies!), you couldn’t hit everything if you tried, to say nothing about the stellar musical lineup, though there were some duds.
Upon entering any Odd Future event, one will notice a few things: if you are 25 you are on the way older end of the demo, there are an innumerable amount of snapbacks and knee high tube socks, and the fashion color schema ranges from blazing pink with purple polka dots to blinding yellow tees. At some point you will have an insatiable craving for donuts.
It is all an indicator of, not only OF’s stellar branding and artistic vision but also, the loyalty and dedication of Odd Future’s fan base. I found myself wondering what Camp Flog Gnaw would be in 10 years. Most pointedly, would theirs be a fan collective a la ICP’s Juggalos? Maybe they’ll be called Oddities, or Futures or Wolves or Golfers. My mind wanders.
As I lost another $5 on carnival games (they make it look so easy!!) Action Bronson reminded me this was a music festival. He played a solid set, which included sampling “Another Day In Paradise” by Phil Collins, throwing out a half pound Ziploc of weed into the crowd (this actually happened) and then leaving 30 minutes before his set was over. When he left, many wondered where he had gone, others decided to finish rolling their joints and figure it out later; collectively we all thought did he go eat?
We may never know. Though, he did take the crowd in the direction of his Fuck, That’s Deliciousville food station. After about 20 minutes, Bronsalino came back on stage to wrap up with “Easy Rider” singing, “ride the Harley into the sunset,” just as the sun was setting.
After his set, I had to check out his FTD food station. So while The Internet played a sexy set of slow jams I popped into Fuck That’s Deliciousville. The special of the day was a Brisket Sandwich. The healthy alternative: “Lettuce Wrapped Lettuce,” which was/is hilarious to me.
Unfortunately, it took somewhere around 40 minutes between ordering said brisket, picking up sandwich bun and then picking up brisket. Long wait aside; the Brisket was fucking amazing. Like, almost-worth-40-minute-wait amazing.
During the long wait I could hear Earl and Vince Staples very agro set. But, the sound pocket of Deliciousville made them sound terrible. When I was freed of my unexpected 40-minute expedition to Deliciousville, Earl and Staples had the crowd losing it. But, in the distance I heard the pummeling of dance music and couldn’t resist.
At the main stage Diplo surprised the crowd with a much-needed dose of EDM. Filling in for Trash Talk, who was a late cancelation, Diplo mixed a solid set of Trap and Dubstep. The best part being when he played Young Thug’s song-of-the-year candidate “Lifestyle” and had Taco come out to sing the gibberish hook. The whole crowd took part. Hearing 5,000 people singing, “ComnacolomnamthisomlyBEGINNNNNNINNNN” was life-affirming.
I was looking forward to seeing what Rick Ross could pull out for his set. I was not impressed. Ross has made his career off of being “The Boss.” But, here he is at a 23 year old’s carnival, in its third year, playing on a smaller-than-main stage, with very little in the way of vision in his stage production. (Having said that, “Hustlin’” is still a total banger.)
Fast-forward to Tyler, the Creator’s set; it was think-piece central. The stage was designed as an enormous bedroom. A gigantic bed in the center with American Flag covers, a huge green chair and a giant dresser. Topped off with a backdrop of a window looking out to a cloudy sky. It instilled the crowd with a sense of intimacy. What could mean more to these Odd Future cultists then to be in the very room of their leader?
It seemed like Tyler’s way to bring them in. As if to say, look what I did in my room, you can do this too! You can create anything from right in your room.
Tyler, The Creator
If the imagery wasn’t clear enough, he spelled out as much during his very YEEZY stream of consciousness monologue. Saying, “This is for all the scared motherfuckers who called me weird. If you fuck with yourself, this is what you can do. Watch me at 25. Watch me at 27! Imagine what I’m gonna do at 30!” It was so fucking rock and Yeezy.
Oh, and they auctioned off a car, which was dope but also completely chaotic.
Looking back, I wish the carnival had ended there. I was stoked to see Pharrell just like everyone else, but his show was a bit awkward. It was so riddled with product placement (Adidas pants, Adidas shirts, Adidas hats on every band member) and a fumbled feminist PR campaign that it was difficult to just enjoy the music.
The feminism push is expected. After last summer’s “Blurred Lines” Pharrell was the scapegoat for ideas of misogyny in the modern Pop landscape. Which was pretty fucked up, since it wasn’t even his song! Robin Thicke really dodged a bullet, not that it helped him at all. So it makes sense that Pharrell is beginning a campaign to redress that issue.
Unfortunately, he went about it in a strange way. A few songs into his set, he addressed the crowd, “If you don’t stand up for feminism you are a goddamn moron! Let’s let the girls take over! Give it up for The Baes!” At which point he left the stage and the all-girl dance crew that was backing him up [The Baes] came out for a break dance exhibition. Which was awesome, and it’s great that he is trying to empower women. But, when he came back on stage he introduced the women in the crew, and forgot their names!
It was brutal. But, It only made me hate Robin “Beetlejuice” Thicke even more, because Pharrell shouldn’t have to prove anything to his audience outside of his music. Or, at least, he didn’t until now.
Not that any of the women in the audience seemed to care what the pundits had to say. At one point he invited dozens of female fans on stage to dance. He definitely made their snapchat.
And, since Flog Gnaw is a very punk sort of gathering, it was the perfect occasion to reunite N.E.R.D. The crowd totally lost it when Chad Hugo and Shae Haley came out to perform hard hitters “Rockstar,” “Lapdance,” “She Wants To Move” and other classics. It probably meant a lot to Tyler, since In Search Of… is one of his favorite records.
So Camp Flog Gnaw remains a chaotic, organic and thriving artistic showcase. Wonderfully experimental, it is glorious in its failures as much as in its successes. A signifier of the limitless vision and integrity that Odd Future strives toward: Unafraid to try new tricks, unapologetically DIY and unabashedly swag as fuck.
Check out the photos below from Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival 3!
Words: Ziv Biton
Photography: Monique Hernandez
Tyler, The Creator
Want more photos of the bands and fans? Check out the photo gallery below!