The Earl Sweatshirt Christmas Show
In the past month, 19 year old LA/Odd Future rapper Earl Sweatshirt has been adorned with end of year acclaim befitting of a Jay-Z or Nas. His album Doris is on virtually every major outlet's end of year “best of” list, from Pitchfork to Spin. Doris is a triumph of insular, brooding rap and is being praised exactly for that. But, the vibe of Odd Future performances and their last Christmas show offer a contrast.
“That song's not fun,” Earl joked while performing the particularly personal “Chum” Friday night. The song was the only real “Doris” moment of his Christmas show over the weekend. For the most part, Earl and his Odd Future cohorts were all about seeing how much of their own fun they could have on stage – as always.
Earl performed several songs from his critically acclaimed debut, such as “Sunday,” “Hive,” “Centurion,” and “Whoa,” but the whole affair was less like the experience of listening to Doris, and more like just watching him and others from OF just perform music to enjoy themselves. Earl's recorded work is the sound of a young, incredibly talented emcee doing whatever he feels sounds the best, regardless of whatever is happening in music outside of his own realm, and his live show reflects that.
At a time when stadium rappers like Jay-Z, Kanye, and Drake will lead pre-planned productions that feel like a Super Bowl half time performance, Earl and the OF crew produce shows that feel like just a few rappers performing to entertain themselves and their audience. It's something that's surprisingly almost innovative and fresh, despite that fact it's the type of small-venue happening that makes the most sense.
At the end of the show, the Odd Future crew performed several “renditions” of other artists, from R. Kelly to Drake to Juvenile, all of who they billed as the actual artists. Whereas many would try and run a victory lap at the end or throw that “game-winning shot” in the form of a fan favorite, Earl concluded his show by trolling and joking about a bunch of guest stars. It's the exact opposite of what you'd expect from such a heavily lauded and loved rapper, but it's exactly one of the few things you could “expect” from Odd Future. At the end of the day, we all listen to music to enjoy ourselves anyways, so why shouldn't the artists performing it share that same feeling.
Random Notebook Dump: During the “Kanye West” cameo, one fan legitimately mistook an OF affiliate for Kanye West and for about a couple minutes went crazy believing Kanye was actually on stage.
The Crowd: An older woman outside remarked about the vast majority of the crowd being under 21. We'd vouch for a vast majority of the crowd being under 18.
Critic's Bias: Odd Future always put on the most entertaining shows, and the fact that they can rap really well doesn't hurt either.