At Odd Future’s Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival, held yesterday outside Los Angeles' Club Nokia, the notoriously mischievous kids were the ones who felt at risk: Tyler, the Creator wandered around the grounds with a bodyguard hilariously in tow. As threatening as the Los Angeles rap collective can seem to outsiders, to their fans Odd Future are viewed as goofy boys publicly airing exaggerated private jokes and conversations. Their funhouse take on rap is one reason why their decision to host a carnival isn’t far-fetched.
Carnivals have a lurking sense of danger, as if the rickety, temporary rides could break down at any moment and seedy carnies are looking to roll away with your money. For the mostly teen crowd at Camp Flog Gnaw, you get a sense that it's more about community and (naturally) music, bound together by Odd Future’s pink donut insignia, which could be seen across the fronts and backs of shirts, sweatshirts, and racerback tanks; cat-print button-downs and eyeless cat t-shirts; “GOLF WANG” embroidered lids; Earl Sweatshirt hoodies; dolphin pins; and hiked up striped tube socks stitched with the group’s name. Some attendees arrived with emblems -- in line, I waited alongside a couple donning his and hers raglan tees with screen-printed dolphins. If you didn't have OF gear, there were plenty of opportunities to win stuff at game booths such as “Whac-a-Mole,” “Tubs of Fun,” basketball, darts, “Roll-a-Ball,” a dunk tank, and “Cat Grab,” where contestants tried to collect as many cat-shaped dollars as possible as money spiraled around them in a glass box. (As wholesome and innocent as that sounds, OF still found a way to shock and offend: The Whac-a-Mole game and dunk tank signs invited participants to “Hit That Ni**a!” or “Dunk This Ni**a!”) Those unlucky with the games could purchase gear from the merch stand, which sold more exotic OF-stamped items such as creamsicle-colored swim trunks.
The dining options were fatty and non-healthy, much like a teenage boy’s dream diet and Odd Future's culinary delights included a range of local options that catered to the junk-food, stoner crowd. Corn dogs came bacon-wrapped, Oreos were deep-fried, caramel apples were marshmallow-speckled. There were authentic taco stands and a food truck that served mashed potato and tomato flautas and a generous serving of crispy nutella quesadilla, which might be the easiest DIY stoner snack since microwave nachos. Most striking of all was the whopping Action Bronson burger, designed by the chef-turned-MC, who also performed during the day. If you’ve ever listened his bone marrow-filled verses, you might not be surprised to learn that it was a towering heap of deep fried chicken cutlets, cookbook-thick bacon, grilled red onions, pickles, dill ranch, and a charred quarter-pound patty with a juicy core spilling off a brioche bun. It’s impossible to wrap your mouth around and difficult to finish, though it was unreasonably delicious. If you try it, beware of Action Bronson acid reflux.
Along with Action Bronson, other performers included RiFF RAFF, the Internet, Syd the Kid, Taco, and Casey Veggies, all fitting monikers for a carnival side-stage. But their performances only provided a backdrop of music for the gathering. The carnival stage was never fully packed and when it came time for OF and Trash Talk to play, the crowd -- including Lil Wayne, who guested with OF -- reconvened across the street in the Nokia Theater, where the show would continue. The preamble to the Nokia was less about music and more a celebration of community, a chance for hometown Odd Future fans to feel like part of a special, insular club. (Just to be sure no rubberneckers attended, tickets started at a hefty $49.50, with a pair of three-figure deluxe package options.) Before sundown, a polka dot-clad Tyler wandered around the grounds with a polaroid camera slung around his neck, posing for pictures with a few guys decked out in OFWGKTA gear and any pretty girl he came across. And even at his own event, he was brutally honest-- after going down the “Super Slide” (with his bodyguard) he joked to the gathering crowd, “that shit burns.”
After nightfall, attendees crossed the street to the neon-lit block of Club Nokia which was being patrolled by security guards and a few policemen -- a reminder that there's a less innocent side to Odd Furure's music. Between the carnival and concert, the crowd changed from slushy-drinking teens to adults eager to get to the bar. They first had to pass through six metal detectors, a sign that the real dangers here are indoors, away from the bright lights, gluttonous atmosphere and care-free rides that Flog Gnaw possessed.
Check out photos from the Odd Future Carnival below: