When P. Diddy came out at the beginning of Lil B's headlining set at the Fader Fort, most people in the audience assumed he only stopped in to give a shout-out and leave (he was scheduled to perform at the Perez Hilton party later in the evening). Little did we know we were in for much more.
Embarrassingly, a good portion of the crowd cleared out of the Fort during Lil B's set, mostly due to a lack of real interaction with the room and rapidly falling energy. By about six songs in the back half of the area in front of the stage was empty, with most party stragglers lingering toward the back of the compound. As Lil B was saying his goodbyes and throwing CDs and a book he was promoting out into the crowd, Diddy reappeared on stage -- and almost instantly, every single person left in the venue went flooding back to the performance tent, camera phones held high.
Diddy started out by giving everyone a mini monologue that seemed like some kind of acceptance speech, telling everyone how great he thinks Lil B is and how pumped he was to be in Austin. "This is my first time at SXSW," he explained, then looked out into the crowd and said "You guys are the future" -- some brilliant fucking foreshadowing if you ask me.
Then Diddy launched into a quick version of his remix of Waka Flocka Flame's "O Let's Do It," which brought any remaining lingerers rushing up front as everyone looked at one another in disbelief. But the song was over fast, and before we knew it Diddy was gone. With the crowd whipped into an absolute frenzy, he wasn't going to get away that easily.
He re-emerged, peeling off his "Cocaine and Caviar" t-shirt to get down to a black tank top, and cued up the intro to "It's All About the Benjamins." Before Diddy even started rapping, the whole crowd started chanting the words, and even when he raised his mic to his mouth it was hard to hear him over the people screaming along to every word. He quickly followed up with "Victory," then threatened to leave the stage once again.
When the audience protested, Diddy brought out Odd Future, who he proclaimed to be the future of hip hop, and let the crew take over with their hit "Sandwitches."
The crowd was even more amped for Odd Future than they were during Diddy's set, and within the first couple verses of the song an overexcited crowd member wound up and threw a water bottle on stage, hitting Tyler the Creator squarely in the eye.
Tyler bounded to the edge of the stage and hovered over the photo pit, glaring out into the crowd. "Who did that? Man the fuck up!" he yelled over and over again. A few minutes later, I ran into a couple who was standing next to the perpetrator, and they said that everyone around him immediately started pointing him out to the band and edging him up to the stage, but eventually Tyler lost interest in fighting and turned his attention back to the song, tears streaming out of his right eye as it swelled up from the impact.
The rest of the crew spent the song bounding around the stage and jumping off the stage, crowd-surfing over a willing sea of arms as everyone cheered. I had the chance to see two different one-song performances by Odd Future this week, and their energy is incomparable -- I've never seen a group of rappers look so pissed off and elated simultaneously. Their middle fingers may be in the air, but they look like they're having a blast, and it's a vibe that radiates throughout every venue they play.
All told, it was a shot of adrenaline at the end of a night at the Fort that already included a reunion set by DeYarmond Edison, and a great way to finish out this insane week.