With the sprawling LA hip-hop collective having recently released its third record as a group, and the internet hype machine buzzing over it, it goes without saying there was a lot of excitement in the room prior to Odd Future arriving on stage. From the moment the members that had bothered to turn up ambled on stage, however, it was clear that this was not going to be one of their classic shows. The boys’ (Syd tha Kyd was notably absent) reputation for on-stage madness and exuberance seemed, on the evidence of this performance, to be on the wane.
Throughout the set the crew mainly ambled about the stage, with Taco the only animated performer, dancing madly before and during the performance. That he was on stage at all, however, is testament to the shoddy preparation that Odd Future had put in to their performance. Rather than the usually highly polished DJ performance that Syd tha Kyd contributes, Taco merely played the actual, non-instrumental versions of the tracks from his laptop. The sound quality was atrocious, with it frequently being unclear which song it was; even ‘Yonkers’ took a while to register with the crowd, such was the lack of clarity. Tyler, The Creator did not even appear to be particularly interested in performing his biggest hit, which might have been understandable if the whole of the rest of his performance hadn’t been blighted by the same seeming lack of care. Even when Left Brain leaped into the crowd – only to have his necklace, t-shirt and shoes ripped from his body – he seemed the only member showing any genuine enthusiasm.
There was also no sign of Earl Sweatshirt, the group’s prodigal son and perhaps its most naturally gifted lyricist. He had been present at the first couple of dates of the tour in the USA, having recently returned from his stay at a Samoan boarding school on his mother’s orders. It was particularly disappointing for him not to have been there, and the discontent was tangible in the room. This was made even more annoying – and farcical – when Tyler, The Creator performed ‘Orange Juice’ alone, just letting the track play for Earl’s vocals. This showed a level of contempt for their fans that I really wasn’t expecting from Odd Future, and surprised and disappointed me in equal measure.
Despite the obvious shortfalls of the set, the crowd was alive with excitement from the moment people began to enter the venue. This might, however, have had something to do with the fact that the average age of attendees was at most sixteen. There was a sea of Golf Wang t-shirts and Supreme caps, with all the children worshipping at the altar of OF like some kind of bizarre hipster cult. Even for a very liberal-minded chap as myself, it was strange to see a twelve-year-old boy moshing hard, with a bleeding nose and shouting about rape and arson.
Let’s hope that this was just an early-tour blip from rap’s brightest young stars, and that they’re back to their best before too long. They owe it to themselves – and their fans – to be better than this.