Odd Future at First Avenue, 10/12/11

Categories: Last Night
Photos by Erik Hess
Odd Future
October 12, 2011
First Avenue, Minneapolis

As I figured, waiting in line I noticed a young crowd for Odd Future (the show was all ages, and was finished by the time most of-age shows even have doors); some from slightly out of the city limits, some with their mothers, and many excited. 

From humble beginnings drinking blended drugs on YouTube to Tyler, The Creator (the de facto leader of the Wolf Gang) winning the VMA for Best New Artist, this West Coast rap collective are now famous among teens who use the internet. While absent member Frank Ocean -- whose R&B record, nostalgia,ULTRA., is the best album of the year -- has the most widespread potential of the group, Tyler is the most visible at the moment in the rap world. Already living dreams of sold-out shows, TV appearances and guest spots with his heroes the Neptunes, his visibility has risen in part by songs that unequivocally glorify rape.

Tyler reminds me of Brandon McCarthy from Welcome to the Dollhouse: A troubled kid whose muddied distortions of love for and hatred of women express themselves most tellingly when he calls ahead with a time and place for the young Dawn Weiner's impending rape. Though Tyler's sophomore release Goblin has a range of topics and even a few rare tender moments -- such as "Analog" -- rape and violence against women are still predominant themes. 

Arguments about the overall quality of the music's beats and rhyme patterns are true, which make it easy for some to justify the hype that caused a capacity First Ave Mainroom to scream nearly every lyric to every song. Even the group onstage acted like the response side of call-and-response, occasionally rapping over their prerecorded vocals and screaming much of the lines as a full collective. It's some of the most aggressive rap music, period, and its sound will have a lasting impact. 

Mike G proved to be the best MC in overall technical terms as his fluid and funky consistency on a beat ultimately overtook Tyler's hoarse energy, Domo Genesis' pot-soaked swag, or Hodgy Beat's biting-off-more-than-he-could-chew on some faster songs. Stage-diving, shouting, and in-jokes kept the group of entertainers at a peaked energy level throughout their impressively long set. Sheer aggression from the young, passionate, angry people cemented the fans' and my attention. Mosh pits came and went, as did patrons, the first person being tossed out hardly a half hour into 7 p.m. Domo cracked jokes on the quality of Minneapolis weed, refusing a bag thrown on stage as inferior. Left Brain contorted his body and eye sockets to match his crazed tone. Earl Sweatshirt, though physically not a presence, remained a part of the crew with bookends "Drop" and "EARL." Tyler performed his breakout hit "Yonkers" on a stool under red lights, slipping into mania at appropriate moments ("...stab Bruno Mars in his god damn esophagus and won't stop until the cops come in"). It was a consistently engaging show that lived up to the group's ballooning hype.

Photos by Erik Hess
​But what is done with all this energy? Where does this pent up rage that birthed Tyler's emo-rap torture porn blueprint take us? The suicidal mindset and abandonment issues that birthed Tyler's bitter hostility points it square at women, whose irreparable pain and mental anguish is used to, as Domo Genesis puts it, "redefine cool." As Chris Brown uses talent to shroud his disturbing violent behavior, Odd Future are using violence to inform their talent, and ultimately their stardom. As a fan of aggressive music generally, there's an obvious appeal for me and many others, but I have a hard time reconciling where that aggression is going to ultimately be applied. With rape, domestic violence, and bullying-related suicide still very real problems, it's unnerving to see tales of victimizing met with such a fervor.  

I was more than excited about Odd Future at various points along their rise (the Jimmy Fallon appearance, videos for "Yonkers" and "64," and Frank Ocean's continually engaging approach to modern R&B songwriting) and was curious to see their performance. Angst and rage at religion, authority and an oppressive society expressed through a filter of ambition and self-aggrandizing energy is powerful stuff, but my mind keeps turning to why this power is used against the already oppressed. Stabbing a cop with a hunting knife has the appeal of taking vengeance against authority, but the popularity of rabidly anti-woman lines in a similar vein shed light on a hatred and distrust bubbling in the zeitgeist. Hype doesn't create itself -- this stuff got popular because it represents amplified versions of the status quo's view of women and other marginalized group. But that can't excuse it. Bottom line: I listen to the music, but I refuse to simply gloss over the root problems at the core of the lyrics. I enjoyed the show but I refuse to let that enjoyment justify a tolerance for misogynist violence in any form. 

Photos by Erik Hess

Set list:

64 (MellowHype)
Transylvania (Tyler)
Rolling Papers (Domo + Tyler)
Made It Look Good (Mike G)
I Got A Gun (MellowHype)
Tron Cat (Tyler)
TangGolf (Domo + Hodgy)
Everything That's Yours (Mike G)
Splatter (Tyler)
Orange Juice (EarlWolf)
Turnt Down (Hodgy)
Domier (Domo)
Timeless (Mike G)
French! (Tyler + Hodgy)
Yonkers (Tyler)
Under The Influence (Domo)
Loaded (MellowHype + Mike G)
Whole City Behind Us (Domo + Tyler)
Burger (Tyler + Hodgy)
Up (Domo + Hodgy)
Sandwitches (Tyler + Hodgy)
Fuck The Police (MellowHype + Tyler)
Bitch Suck Dick (Tyler + Jasper)
Cool (Earl + Mike G)
Steam Roller (Domo)
Radicals (Tyler)

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Love Odd Future. Great show.


I would also like to add, that your review was a great review of their music, and objective as can be expected, however, I don't think it spoke of how good the show was, beside "it lived up to the hype" For me, it surpassed it. Also noted, is that like you stated, Mike G is by far the best rapper in the group, and Tyler is quite a ways behind, something I would have never known had I not seen them live. Overall Good article. 


         Way to put yourself out on the limb there (sarcasm), As said before me, I don't know if you are a fan, or if you are just extremely disappointed Frank Ocean wasn't there. I have been a hip-hop fan primarily since the 90's, as most true ones have, and have went to many shows. Truth is, Odd Future killed it last night- no more, no less. Their energy, and obvious charisma have not rubbed off, or matriculated into rapping about their newly found fame, and if it takes listening to some shock value lines every now and then, I can  take that. They don't take themselves too seriously, if their fans do, that is on them. 

Jack Swanson
Jack Swanson

From what I've heard this concert really blew all because of the venue, First Avenue, hosting it. Like you said they kicked out the first person before the concert even started. How do you determine which mosher is out doing the other? Did they have some preconceived notion of how many they should kick out just to build up the hype of the whole event...a bunch of dickheads that ruined the whole concert for a someone that loved the group...that really sucks in my book.


A fair review that straddles an uncomfortable line: addressing the obvious problems in the music while allowing that there are reasons to enjoy or admire it. Discusses the music's cultural standing as well as the events of the actual concert. For a review of such a controversial group that inspires passion from all sides, this was excellent. One of the most interesting and balanced CP concert reviews I can remember.


Easily one of the better write ups I've seen trying to explain the ability to like their music while still condemning their message (admitted most of these think pieces are awful so it's not a high bar). The one thing I'd add is that back when they had no power themselves (before they were famous) the blatant misogyny seemed more like a reaction to their own insecurity than anything. While it seems like this still comes through sometimes (Her, She, Analog), now that they're famous it just sounds like bullying.


Well I don't know about aggressive....I mean if that's aggressive our world must be the end of it all...Nice write up.


Nate Brennan
Nate Brennan

I guess you've protected yourself enough so that no one can hate you for liking or disliking their music. Phew! That was a close one.


My issue with your final point "they don't take themselves too seriously, if their fans do it, that is on them" is that hip-hop is heavily reliant on lyrics. It's essentially people talking to a rhythm (though this is not a slight to the genre, and not an all-encompassing generalization), so the content of the lyrics is important. Despite how you interpret the lyrics, they still exist and are still consumed by your mind. You can't just dismiss criticism of the lyrics as "taking it too seriously." Fans chant those lyrics back, meaning they memorized and idolized them in some way. Now whether this is violence-mongering by OFWGKTA, or just a symptom/reflection of our own emotionally repressed society, is not worth arguing here. But you have to take what people say seriously, because if you don't feel uncomfortable with graphic depictions of violence and rape, and actually get pleasure from it, then you might just be a sociopath.

Jack Swanson
Jack Swanson

I don't think you have to condemn their message....if you get the group, you know that their message is not to go out and rape and kill people.....it's to shock the shit out of the establishment...make them sit and take notice of something besides their own petty little corporate wars or office wars or status quo wars or whatever...it's today's protest songs and this is what it has evolved into...from Elvis faking the sex act to actually describing every detail in graphic clarity. 


there is a difference between describing a sex act in detail, and describing a sexual assault in detail jack


There's a difference between describing a sexual assault in detail and sexually assaulting someone, sc.

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