Buying a ticket to an Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All show is like paying seventy dollars to join a gang of the most fun bullies in the city. If you are anything like me, the price of that ticket is closer to one-hundred and fifty dollars – ninety for the ticket I haggle online to the sold out show, and sixty for the Acela Express into Boston, which is the only train running after the commuter rail I miss. The price, though abnormally steep for a typical rap show, is not a deterrent from seeing the show. I know that hyperbolic appraisals of the show will inundate my Twitter feed the next day, and I want to witness the event the group’s de facto leader, Tyler, the Creator, is publicizing online. It is precisely because of the rap group Odd Future’s online presence that their shows are shrouded in such infamy – the group successfully brands their shows as once-in-a-lifetime, joyfully dystopian events not worth missing. Attendees of their shows are filled with preconceptions, few of which go unfulfilled.
When I entered the venue, a woman handing out cardboard masks of Tyler’s face greets me, shooting me a menacing glance when I do not immediately put it on. Upon entrance to the theater, the propagation of the cultish image of the group continues; not only does the mask deify its leader, it also makes attendees feel as if they are being ushered into the fold. However, there is a strange irony in seeing a group like Odd Future, who advertises itself as a group of LA street punks, at a venue like The Royale in Boston. The concert hall is adorned with velvet curtains, crystal chandeliers, and gold molding, which feel palpably incongruous with the projected identity of the performers, rife with images of skateboards, street stunts, and fast food.
Another aspect of what I have identified as the abstract, makeshift “crew” (consisting of both Odd Future and the audience) is the racial contrast between the crowd and the performers. Odd Future, comprised of all Black members, stands in almost direct opposition with the racial makeup of the attendees, which I would estimate is between eighty and ninety percent Caucasian. The audience is also remarkably male (probably seventy percent), with a noticeable spatial gradient within the concert hall; the majority of concertgoers at the front of the venue are men, while there is a greater female representation at the back. Most people attending the concert are between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five, generally wearing some sort of variation of the same casual outfit – loose t-shirts and jeans for men, and fitted t-shirts and jeans or shorts for women. To reduce the audience to an archetype, it resembles a crowd of partygoers at a typical college fraternity house, a characterization that is admittedly simplistic, but bolstered by the aesthetics and ages of the attendees as well as the ubiquity of beer, marijuana, and sweat in the concert hall.
The performance is highly participatory, with a relatively homogenized dance style and emphatic recitation of lyrics. The majority of the audience dances usually with an arm in the air and hard, downward-bend motions on the one and three beats. This dance is performed throughout the entirety of the show, and it is successfully in that it intensely incorporates the body in the music and that it is heavy and somewhat sluggish, easily accomplished under alcohol- and marijuana-induced intoxication. The more active form of participation in the concert is the rapping of songs along with Odd Future, as well as some moments of call and response. The performance has an intensely group-based dynamic, with the various members of the group often shouting into the microphones, a sound that invites members of the audience to easily sing along and generates a sense of closeness with Odd Future itself, the voices of the attendees converging with the distorted drone of ten people screaming into microphones. Again, it feels as if watching the show implies a welcoming into the constantly changing crew.
The performance itself is also heavily collective, with Tyler, the Creator at the forefront. The poster child of the group has a late, dramatic entrance encouraged by audience chanting in which he crashes onstage, rowdily kicks over stage props, and makes an immediate stage dive. Additionally, many of the songs in the set list are taken from Tyler’s solo albums Goblin and Bastard, though the solo albums of the other Odd Future members do not receive such representation. The most notable element of the performance is that of bullying that pervades the show, at times brotherly, other times irate. Odd Future members act in the same manner that Tyler does in his entrance, punching each other, throwing objects into the audience, maniacally jumping around the stage, and frequently diving into the arms of the audience. The crowd responds and imitates this behavior, moshing throughout the concert. However, their behavior, though seemingly aggressive, does not always feel malicious; instead, it appears to be somewhat demonic child’s play characterized by rambunctiousness.
The only member of Odd Future who is conspicuously stoic is the lone female, DJ Syd tha Kyd. She remains unanimated throughout the show, limited mainly to her DJ stand at the back of the stage. Interestingly, Syd is an open homosexual, and with her short hair and traditionally masculine aesthetic, she is almost indistinguishable from the group of boys. She is truly brought into focus only when Tyler starts an audience chant of “The b***h is a stripper” directed at her, to which she responds with a faint smile. The separation of Syd from the rest of the group is indicative of the dynamic within the larger venue, where, as described, the men aggressively populate the front of the room and the women generally congregate toward the back, as well as the lyrical content of the songs, which has blatant misogynist overtones. All of these elements combine to create a space within The Royale that feels like a club for boys and men – a place where males can recklessly express their masculine abandon.
Leaving the theater marks the end of an immersive experience of collective recklessness and gleeful rage. As I board the train home, it is impossible not to question the implications of my participation in the Odd Future show, particularly regarding my whiteness and upper-middle class background, as opposed to that of the group. The concert feels like a dystopian celebration whose underlying motives remain notably vague. For most of the attendees, exiting The Royale likely means leaving behind the world that was established in those two hours. However, the creation of that world highlights the true power of Odd Future – their ability to incite rebellion in social groups that do not usually express it.
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 October 21, 2001, Twitter – @f**ktyler: LAST BOSTON SHOW, A COP WAS INJURED AND SOME 13 YEAR OLD GIRL WAS ARRESTED...AFTER THE RIOT AT THAT COMIC STORE. F**KING BOSTON N****R!!!!
 I deduce these forms of intoxication based on the visible presence of beer and in observations of my peers (I notice many bleary eyes, and at point I hear someone behind me yell to his friend, “I’m blazing bro!”)