Odd Future at the Ventura Theater
Stifling heat and absence of key members didn’t hinder fans
Cesar Augusto Rodriguez
Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA, aka Odd Future) has maintained a steadfast presence since they started showing up on blogs around 2010. With a steady supply of disruptive, chaotic and violent lyrics layered over bass-heavy beats, it is not surprising that a multitude of today’s hip-hop-consuming youth identifies with Odd Future. Structure the lyrics around nihilism, throw in some twisted videos, and you have captured the attention of many apathetic teenagers in need of something fresh and something to call their own. This is what has made the Camp Flog Gnaw tour a success, with many of the cities selling out.
The crowd was ready even before the doors opened at the Ventura Theater. Passersby on their Saturday night Ventura outing wondered what all the excitement was about. Chestnut Street was brewing in anticipation of Odd Future’s performance. With the line already buzzing, any glimpse of the crew from the adjacent tour bus would stir up the crowd even more. An army of smartphones snapped video and photos of any member they saw. Taco Bennett (Odd Future DJ) ran back and forth from the bus to the security booth a couple of times, gathering a few last-minute items just before the doors opened. When that time came, people ran to the front to claim their space. I joined the rush and claimed a spot up front. A crew of about five guys from Fresno stood to my left. They made the drive since it was the nearest show that had not sold out. The group on my right were football players from an Oxnard high school. They looked over at me as they said, “It’s gonna get crazy up here.” They were right.
The crowd packed in fast and tight. It was on the verge of becoming a mosh pit without music but immediately changed as soon as Taco threw down the first beats. The pushing turned to bouncing and head bobbing while security pulled a few fans from the front for safety’s sake. Taco played some heavy hitters like Juicy J’s “Bandz a Make Her Dance” and Lil Jon's “Get Low.” The crowd knew all the words to his song selections and were well warmed-up for the rest of the crew when they hit the stage right after a little crowd surfing by Taco. The Wolf Gang came out strong and Mike G.’s stage presence matched, if not surpassed, Tyler, the Creator’s at times. As for Left Brain, Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis and Jasper Dolphin, they kept the energy going and fed off each other even though Tyler disappeared multiple times during the show. Most of their tracks were from the 2012 album, The OF Tape Vol. 2 but Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean were not in attendance. They also threw in at least one new track that fans are calling “Wolf Gang.”
Although the group’s start was strong, and mid-set included some balcony climbing by Left Brain, the energy seemed to have drained about an hour and a half into the show. It must have been the heat since Tyler mentioned it a few times, and the upstairs mirrors of the theater were fogging up as if it were a steam room. Toward the end of the show, Tyler also confessed that they did not have a set list and seemed unsure of what to do next. Maybe that’s why he started taking money out of his pocket and throwing it into the crowd. Just when the energy got a bit weird, they started singing a cappella to K-Ci & JoJo‘s “All My Life.” The crowd loved it and sang along. The beats came back and Mike G. kept the last part of the show going, but it was apparent that this was the end. The fans did not seem to care about the awkward finale. They came to see the Wolf Gang dominate through vulgar poetry and have their ears blasted through body-shaking frequencies. That’s exactly what they got. Another session of indoctrination into the laws of Camp Flog Gnaw was complete.