The Frenetic Passion of Odd Future
Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA), an L.A.-based hip-hop collective, is a group that ignites debate whenever they are brought up. Many criticize their graphic descriptions of rape and murder, while others think they are revolutionizing the world of hip-hop. The group has enjoyed a meteoric rise to popularity, as well as a deluge of critical accolades. It can be hard to form an opinion on a collective that is so new and so often talked about, due in part to their prolific pre-frame release, and in part to the effort it takes to ignore the fierce debate surrounding their work.
However, on the evening of October 21, the leader of the group, Tyler, the Creator, gave the sold-out crowd in the Royale in Boston no time to think about whether or not they approved of Odd Future. After the group’s DJ and only female member Syd tha Kid entertained the crowd with a set for about 20 minutes, the show really began with Tyler sprinting from offstage and diving straight into the audience without any warning or introduction. The fans, who had spent the past hour eagerly waiting and chanting “Wolf Gang” over and over again, exploded into a frenzy as they fought to support Tyler—both literally and figuratively—in his crowdsurfing endeavor.
Tyler’s headfirst introduction was an explosion of energy that never really diminished for the entirety of the 90-minute performance. The crowd never needed any encouragement; they started shoving and jumping with all the intensity of an angry mob as soon as Tyler took the stage, but instead of anger it was pure energy that seemed to surge through the audience. It is difficult to overemphasize the ferocity with which people struggled to get even an inch or two closer to the stage, and the frequency with which people crowdsurfed forwards on the hands and heads of the crowd.
The frenetic energy of the audience was matched by the aggression and force of the performance. Hodgy Beats and Left Brain, two other members of Odd Future who also comprise a duo known as MellowHype, took to the stage to trade verses with Tyler. Domo Genesis rapped on the song “Rolling Papers” alongside Tyler. Yet despite the other performers’ remarkable talent, Tyler was without question the center of the show. While he was rapping, it was as if he emanated an uncontainable energy and all hands were either in the air or being used for moshing. While the other members performed admirably by normal standards, they never exhibited the same commanding presence as Tyler. This was unfortunate for the other members of Odd Future, as Tyler, the Creator is so full of kinetic energy and charisma that he often incidentally relegates the other members to the background.
Even outside of the collective’s wild performance, the show would have been animated to the point of being slightly terrifying, as audience members’ glasses and shoes were knocked off and everyone had to fight to simply stay on two feet. People snuck up the side of the stage, only to get a running start to dive off. Throughout the night, the crowd shouted along with the members of Odd Future and chanted their names in awe. The energy peaked during the group’s better-known singles, which incidentally are principally Tyler, the Creator songs. People jumped up in the air and on top of each other during “French!” During the song “Radicals” the crowd passionately shouted, “Kill people, burn shit, fuck school,” as they struck out and shoved each other violently.
The ending of the show felt like the end of a battle. Everyone was drenched in sweat, sore, and tired, but unlike in war, everyone was grinning ear to ear. People limped away from the club, but they laughed and sang out their favorite lines from Odd Future songs as they did.