Like Classic Hip-Hop, Camp Flog Gnaw Only Gets Better With Time

Camp Flog Gnaw
Exposition Park
October 28-29, 2017

If you’re ever feeling old and out of touch, Camp Flog Gnaw is perhaps the one place where even the most elderly white folks can immerse themselves in the lives of the 25-and-under crowd. While other local hip-hop festivals like Day N Night and Summertime in the LBC strive to match the annual carnival’s musical lineup, there’s not another experience around that can touch Tyler, the Creator’s event in capturing the culture that goes along with the latest generation of rap fans.

From the decorations and merch to the carnival games and vendors (food or otherwise), Flog Gnaw spares no expense in transforming the typically bleak Coliseum parking lots into an immersive experience for thousands upon thousands of Odd Future fans. But even more than the cartoonish artwork and bright colors, it’s the music that shines on its own and makes Flog Gnaw one of the best festivals in Southern California.

With afternoon performances by everyone from OFWGKTA members like Domo Genesis, Mike G and Left Brain to rock bands like FIDLAR and the Garden (and everything in between) Flog Gnaw proved to be one of the few festivals worth arriving with enough time to wind through the impossibly long entrance path before the performers began. Beyond the daytime performers, the weekend’s diversity continued with a wide variety of hip-hop and R&B acts as well as more electronic-based performers like Alison Wonderland and Justice.

Throughout both evenings, well-known artists both young and old took to the stages for the thousands of rowdy fans (although the Kid Cudi-headlined Sunday was notably calmer than Saturday) as vocalists like Kelis, 6lack, Solange, and Syd showed that a powerful voice can transcend genres and generations. Speaking of Syd, the Internet had arguably the best weekend of anyone outside of their Odd Future brethren with excellent solo sets from both the lead singer and guitarist/producer Steve Lacy aside from the full group show on Sunday evening.

In addition to the performances themselves, the friendly atmosphere among the artists at Flog Gnaw brought about some of the most memorable onstage antics of the year. From the wisecracking Vince Staples saying he wanted to go home to watch the new season of Stranger Things and then dedicating “Norf Norf” to the sacred vows of Offset and Cardi B right before the Migos’ set to an injured 2 Chainz rapping from his pimped out wheelchair with the help of a sexy nurse and the Trap Choir, the banter between songs was often as much fun to listen to as the tracks themselves. Of course, that chatter got turned up a notch further when ASAP Rocky brought out Tyler, Playboi Carti, and a few others before having his party of a set crashed by Lil Yachty (who’d just finished performing on the other stage for a significantly smaller crowd) and the entire show got mildly derailed so everyone could crack jokes and compliment each other.

Perhaps the only two mysteries of the weekend were the decisions to book Lana Del Rey as Saturday’s headliner and Mac DeMarco as the unannounced special guest. Much like last year when Schoolboy Q performed in the main slot after Tyler and Earl Sweatshirt (who thankfully had a full set this year) reunited EarlWolf on Sunday night, a large portion of the crowd emptied out after the host’s electrifying set on Saturday evening, leaving Lana Del Rey crooning to a significantly emptier festival. As for DeMarco, there was a pretty serious exodus from the main stage when his name appeared on the screens following Brockhampton’s performance on Saturday evening as many hip-hop fans decided to go catch the end of 6lack or wait for Denzel Curry before returning an hour later for Syd’s set.

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