Camp Flog Gnaw 2017 Recap: Tyler, the Creator's Festival Brings Lana Del Rey, Migos and More to L.A.
Around 6 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, I sat just outside of L.A. Memorial Stadium, where Camp Flog Gnaw, now in its sixth year, is hosting thousands for a weekend of music and carnival festivities. I was eating pad thai when a light mob of teens and 20-somethings nearly overtook me. The festival’s founder, singer-songwriter Tyler, the Creator was likely just trying to get from point A to B and walking across festival grounds to get there. But fans caught wind and, like glue, each eye that caught him passing became a body trying to stick and stay by forging their way towards Tyler—angling for a smartphone video or an unfortunate selfie.
Later that night, Tyler would be performing, along with several of his peers. The rapper, director, and producer handpicked a collection of artists like Lana Del Rey, the Migos, Solange, and more to hit the stage. Fans flocked to either of the stages their favorite act was rocking on. Read below to find out who some of the standout artists were on both days of Camp Flog Gnaw 2017. And above, check out our gallery.
Sunday night's A$AP Rocky set was the Harlem rhymer's lone solo performance of 2017. He's recently been on the Too Cozy Tour with his Mob brothers. But he certainly wasn't alone at Flog Gnaw; just minutes into his set, a shirtless Tyler, the Creator joined him. Later, Lil Yachty cruised on to perform their track from this year's Cozy Tapes 2 project. The highlight of Rocky's time, though, was when he dedicated "L.S.D." to his trippy fans, singing the cut from his last album to the audience--many of which proudly admitted to trying 'shrooms and LSD. Trippy times, for sure.
Soul star Solange brought the heavy favorites from her '16 album A Seat at the Table and the lighthearted jams from her True EP to the man stage on Sunday, along with dramatic choreography. It was essentially the same show as the one she's been lightly touring throughout the year, but still packs a wallop. As someone who just saw her weeks ago, I know. Still, watching a rerun of Solange's show is just as fun when you know what's coming.
Geezer vibes are what Mac DeMarco gave off during his early evening set. With his shirt tucked in and nearly comical performance style (he’d often drop his microphone gently into the palm of his empty hand as if the trick it was a thrilling as a James Brown split), the singer seemed less like the 27-year-old he is and more like a mellow veteran who was rustled from sleep to shuffle and sing on FG’s main stage. That said, DeMarco showed me (it was my first time seeing him live) why he’s one of Tyler’s favorite artists. His indie rock with hints of soul, along with his charming voice, made him one of Saturday’s best offerings.
About halfway through Mac Miller’s set, about a third of his audience headed towards the Flog stage. With the incredible year Atlanta rap trio Migos is having, it’s a wonder why event-runners even chose to have two marquee hip-hop acts perform at roughly the same time. Miller had a live band and a solid catalog of quality songs.
But the Migos have bangers (hello, “Bad & Boujee”!). The trip across festival grounds was well worth it. Qauvo, Offset, and Takeoff sprinted through just about all of their jams, while also teasing the release of their forthcoming Culture 2 album, the sequel to their January ’17 set. “Who’s ready for that Culture 2?” one of the guys often asked. Cheers from the crowd confirmed that we all are looking forward to Migos’ next collection of southern slappers.
Lana Del Rey
“They want to do ‘West Coast,’” Saturday night closer Lana Del Rey told her band about 25 minutes into her set. It’s unclear if she ever intended to perform the cut from her 2014 album Ultraviolence at all or if she was flipping the setlist a bit on the fly. But whoever those fans were in the front row that asked her to play it as fast as possible had their night’s made.
Del Rey, with her sultry delivery and candid lyrics of the peaks and depths love tugs us through, cooed just about all of her audience’s favorite tracks—from “Born to Die” to her cuts from this year’s Lust For Life album. For someone who’s known for music that’s drenched in sorrow, she appeared to be performing with a good amount of joy. “It took us a while to get here,” Lana said, admitting that Camp Flog Gnaw is actually her “favorite” festival. “I’m so happy that Tyler asked me to perform.”
Women in R&B are having an incredible 2017. There are so many varied voices with unique stories and looks. Syd, who came out of the Odd Future group that birthed Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator is one of the leaders in the field. Her thoughtful production and slick lyricism matched with her no-frills performance encourage her audience to lock in on her music. She admitted to being a bit nervous during her set but shook off her worries to turn in a solid hour on stage.
Tyler, the Creator
It’s likely much easier to admit worry and fear existed within one’s being after the event that caused them to experience those feelings has wrapped and clear-cut victory has been achieved. So everything Tyler, the Creator wrote in a since-deleted Twitter barrage of happiness around 1 a.m. Sunday morning essentially was, even more, confirmation of how proud he was of his Flog Gnaw performance. Over the course of about three tweets, Tyler gushed about how happy he is that he doesn’t have to perform “Yonkers,” his first major single anymore.
Subtracting the song from the setlist is a bold move, a signifier that he now has a collection of cuts that don’t necessitate that one be played nightly. He also tweeted about technical aspects of his live showing. The audience could hear all of his words clearly. That’s attributed to good sound engineering, but also that he’s no longer a hyperactive, out-of-breath performer.
After a problem-free hour on stage where he rapped, sang and bopped around to tracks from his new album Flower Boy in that way most of us only can when we’re alone at home using a toothbrush or remote control as a microphone, Tyler sauntered off stage. “I killed that shit,” he said as he disappeared.
Maybe when Tyler woke up this morning from his performance high, he thought it would be best to return to a more humble place. Maybe he decided to chill on the “I’m so proud of myself”-like talk. So he wiped much of the dialogue with his 5.5 million followers off. However, he did leave one post-show tweet up: “Wow, that was fire. o.m.g.” I agree, Tyler. I agree. It was.
Written by Brad Wete
Photos by Charde Kelly