After a brief hiatus due to COVID, Camp Flog Gnaw returned to Dodger Stadium for the first time since 2019. Curated by Tyler, The Creator, the carnival-festival hybrid was a music lovers’ paradise. From the various merch pop ups – including a Randy’s Doughnuts style Odd Future merch stand – to the carnival rides that were decked out with iconic patterns from GOLF WANG; Tyler and his team had created the ultimate festival experience for people with good taste in music. Across three different stages (CAMP, FLOG and GNAW), they had a stellar lineup of artists that reflected Tyler’s music taste allowing audiences to see an abundance of talent, all in the space of two days.
Here are A Few Highlights Over The Two Days:
Seeing Liv.e live is always a treat, her music is excitingly experimental so the range in genre during her performance really set the tone for the rest of the day. The crowd were delighted to hear jazz-tinged ‘Learn From My Mistakes…but I Lost Your Number’ from her 2020 record, ‘Couldn’t Wait to Tell You’. Her vocals on ‘Find Out’ were nothing short of spellbinding, when she sings “I guess we’ll find out, find out baby” her tone became delicate before she switches back to rich, soulful vocals for the rest of the lyrics. ‘Wild Animals’ was definitely the most popular with the crowd, her vocals stood out on this one as they tenderly soared through her mic.
As scenes from her cinematic music videos flash behind her and her band brings tracks off of her latest album ‘Through and Through’ to life, Baby Rose’s voice is an immediate standout. Her deep tone fills the festival air with warmth from the moment she touches the mic. The crowd start moving and shaking when the funky guitar of uptempo ‘I Won’t Tell’ sounds through the speakers, they sing along to the chorus as the bass in Baby Rose’s vocals proves to be the perfect navigator.
Fana Hues gave us a show, from the impeccable vocal range to the alluring choreo. Her honeyed vocals knew no bounds, oscillating from sultry to songbird-like. Her euphonious vocalisations left the crowd in awe, as did her dance moves – both her and her two dancers had the crowd cheering as they dropped it low. She performed her part of ‘SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE’ acapella which really allowed the crowd to take in her vocals – and of course the crowd joined in.
Louie Pastel and Felix make up the rock-rap duo that is PARIS TEXAS who gave the GNAW stage some of the festival’s best mosh pits, especially during the booming ‘girls like drugs’. Their vocal chemistry was undefeated, the way they adlib-ed each other’s verses gave the listening experience more texture. They had the crowd shouting ‘Shoot em up!’ repeatedly during ‘BULLET MAN’. Both of them had energetic stage presence, as they spit their lyrics they’d jump and stagger across the stage as if each bar moved through them.
Teezo Touchdown’s How Do You Sleep At Night? is two out of many things: a serious contender for album of the year and magnificent live. A unique talent and a sound you’ll never be able to find elsewhere, Teezo’s blend of contemporary R&B and pop rock brought together a huge crowd and they loved every second. He held a sparkly mic stand which was seemingly covered in tinsel and a bouquet of flowers. On ‘Too Easy’ he had the crowd chanting the lyrics, with the melody being reminiscent of 70’s rock before the pace picked up and he was singing the lyrics at the speed of light. ‘Sweet’ slowed things down for a moment as his melodious vocals stood out here and filled the festival with warmth, it’s the kind of song that makes you want to fall in love. He got everyone to put their hand on their heart, “You feel that? Is it beating?….That means all of your dreams, all of your goals, all of your wishes are possible!” before launching into ‘Impossible’, motivating the crowd to chase their dreams.
Ravyn Lenae’s vocals are both powerful and gentle at the same time when she performs live, they soar through the sound system but are still soft and ethereal to the ear. Her vocalisations on ‘Venom’ blew the crowd away, giving the crowd goosebumps over Kaytranada production. The emotion of ‘Skin Tight’ washes over the crowd with its bittersweet yet harmonious essence. Her progression as a vocalist has been wonderful to witness, and the crowd is reminded of her Neo-soul influenced era with classic ‘Sticky’.
After unveiling a gorgeous set with steps to a higher platform that housed a white sofa and plants, Kali Uchis kicked things off with Dembow track ‘Muñekita’. Dipping further into Latin genres, she performed bolero-fused ‘Te Mata’, her latest single. Later in her set she kept the fiesta vibes going with unreleased tracks from her upcoming Spanish album ‘Orquídeas’ called ‘Dame Beso’ and ‘Muévete’. She also performed Por Vida hits like ‘Speed’ and ‘Loner’, both stunning displays of her angelic yet opera-like vocals. The sequencing in this set was perfect, the journey of healing that she took us on through ‘Moral Conscience’, ‘Hasta Cuando’, ‘I Wish You Roses’ and ‘After The Storm’ felt really cohesive in telling the story of someone no longer being in your life anymore. Finishing her beautiful set with ‘telepatia’, she mentioned how she wrote it about loving someone who was far away.
Off the back of four Grammy nominations, Ice Spice took to the FLOG stage for a glorious yet concise set of her hits that ruled the internet and streaming platforms – it’s truly been her year. Her producer and DJ riot got the crowd warmed up before she entered the stage to ‘Princess Diana’ in a white tennis skirt and furry boots as she recited her affirming lyrics, getting the crowd hype and shaking her ass with her two dancers. The crowd would cheer even louder whenever she was shaking it as she performed hits like ‘In Ha Mood’ and ‘Munch’ aswell as tracks off her EP ‘Like..?’ including ‘Actin’ a Smoochie’ and ‘Gangsta Boo’. The combination of jersey and drill in the production boomed through the speakers and had the crowd jumping and shaking ass right along with her. She finished with ‘Deli’, shaking it “like jelly” and “showin’ her panty” to the crowd as their faces lit up with enthusiasm. Ice Spice can’t lose, she’s already chose.
TYLER THE CREATOR
Had to give it up for the man himself, Tyler’s set from start to finish was full to the brim of moments that had the crowd ecstatic. A giant crane lifted up a car onto the stage which was full of cars, emulating a junkyard before Tyler emerged on the top as the beats of ‘LEMONHEAD’ sounded through the speakers, building suspense before the crowd went wild as he started rapping. He would run through a few more tracks off of his last album and Scum F**k Flower Boy, before getting into a medley of some throwbacks. Smoothly transitioning from ‘She’ into ‘Yonkers’ and then getting the crowd jumping with ‘Tamale’ before finishing the section of classics with ‘IFHY’. He did a little dancey dance to the intro of ‘See You Again’ and finished it off by singing the chorus acapella. He also did the second verse of ‘WHAT A DAY’ completely acapella, making it sound like spoken word. He gave a motivational speech that he labelled as a “TED Talk” where he spoke about how people think he has a big ego, but he did everything he wanted to do it and encouraged the crowd to not care what people think if they have dreams of their own they wanna achieve. Then he launched into his favourite song he’s ever made, ‘NEW MAGIC WAND’ where he literally lit the stage up by bringing out a flame thrower, leaving fans in awe.
Brothers No Malice and Pusha T make up the legendary duo that is Clipse, OGs in the game that had fans of old-school hip hop enjoying a heavy dose of nostalgia. Seeing the pair reunite on stage was an experience no one would’ve expected in 2023 considering their disbandment but the pair have been revisiting their classics at festivals throughout the year. Tyler was even watching them from the pit and vibing like the rest of us. Their set design resembled a plane crash as the visuals behind them read “Virginia Beach”, an ode to their hometown. The set made me realise how immaculate their beat selection was, working with The Neptunes allowed them to create generation defining hip hop. They finished their set with classics ‘Mr. Me Too’ and ‘Grindin”.
Cousins Kendrick Lamar and Baby Keem form the dynamic duo that is The Hillbillies and headlined the main stage. Their set began with cinematic visuals of them backstage in black and white while the ‘Saviour (Interlude)’ played before launching into ‘family ties’ as the crowd started moshing to the unmistakable horns in the intro. We’d then get the perfect ratio of Kendrick Lamar to Baby Keem. Between Kendrick tracks like ‘N95’, ‘ADHD’ and ‘ELEMENT.’ and Baby Keem hits like ‘lost souls’, ‘trademark usa’ and ‘hooligan’, the balance was perfect. Kendrick would run through multiple tracks off of good kid, m.A.A.d city, weaving in the likes of ‘Backstreet Freestyle’ and ‘m.A.A.d city’ inbetween Baby Keem’s popular songs like ‘ORANGE SODA’. They’d finish the set with ‘The Hillbillies’ as the moshpits peaked before Day 1 was complete.
Khamari’s performance was nothing short of mesmerising, giving the festival-goers a slice of R&B to start their day right. You could really hear the richness in his vocals as he pours his heart out on tracks like ‘Right My Wrongs’ and ‘Wax Poetic’. He introduces ‘These Four Walls’ as a song made during COVID, about the feeling of wanting to “get out and see the world” which contextualised the song for the audience before laying down the smoothest vocals you’ll ever hear live.
Maxo Kream’s tight, Southern flow heated things up at the GNAW stage under the LA sun, performing hits like ‘Drizzy Draco’ and ‘Brothers’ with KCG Josh. Maxo Kream’s entire fit came from Corteiz, a cornerstone of UK streetwear. He also performed ‘Big Worm’ which samples the iconic ‘Morgue’ by Wiley, his spin on the iconic Grime instrumental got the crowd hype as he laid down his bars.
Nineteen year-old redveil performed to his biggest crowd yet in a pair of white dungarees handprinted in the Palestine flag colours, with a sea of happy campers that stretched from the barricade to the food stands. Hailing from Prince George’s County in Maryland he mentions how far he is from home before shouting out a girl in the crowd with a ‘PG Baby’ sign who was from the same town. Before getting into ‘pg baby’ he exclaimed “I made a song so people could know where the f**k I’m from!” and gets the crowd to repeat “I can tell you ain’t about to win!” using back and fourth crowd participation before dropping that iconic abstract soul-sampled production. Towards the end of ‘black enough’ behind him, the visuals read “LIBERATION IS A GLOBAL STRUGGLE” before switching to the names of people killed in Gaza since October 7th, redveil would then reveal that none of those people made it to the age of four before encouraging the audience to call their reps and ask for a ceasefire via ceasefiretoday.com. He then got the crowd to shout “Free Palestine” before leaving the stage.
Domo Genesis made a bold statement early on in his set: “I’m ’bout to say fire ass raps over fire ass beats…” and that’s exactly what he did. Domo had the crowd waving their hands as he rapped over Graymatter’s artistically mellow production on ‘Plank Walk’ and ‘Details’. Continuing with hits from his latest record ‘What You Don’t Get?!’ he cut the beat on ‘Half Price’ and started spitting acapella which really allowed the crowd to take in his pensive bars and polished flow. Bringing out Remy Banks was a display of brotherly love and allowed his stellar verse to shine through on ‘This 2 Shall Pass’. The crowd went up when Domo did his ‘RUSTY’ verse and he also paid tribute to Mac Miller on ‘Coming Back’, encouraging the crowd to put up two fingers up for his dear friend. Domo also gets the crowd shouting ‘Hot soup in my motherf***in’ bowl!’ after a member of the audience starts singing the lyrics to ‘Hot Soup’, leaving smiles in the crowd all round.
AG Club’s set was epic, they absolutely demolished their performance. Hitting the ground running as they ran around the stage to their hard-hitting opener ‘Mr Put It On’, they had the crowd jumping under the flurry of flashing lights. High-octane spirit ran through the veins of the set; their fiery stage presence never wavered and the crowd didn’t stop moshing. To the crowd’s excitement, they also brought out OhGeesy for ‘Bands’ and ‘GEEKALEEK’. Their setup had an elevated platform and the vertebrae of some kind of vehicle allowing them to get up on them and take their performance to new heights.
Syd’s gentle, sultry vocals felt like sitting down a velvet sofa – soft and calming. She didn’t need fancy set design, her voice did all the talking. ‘CYBAH’ from the first segment of her set was definitely the standout, before the screen behind her rotated as she began Act 2. This was dedicated to classics from The Internet like ‘Special Affair’, ‘Girl’ and ‘Hold On’ before she revealed that The Internet would be in the studio the following week and that new music is coming. Shouting out Kaytranada – who produced ‘Girl’, she then launched into bouncy crowd favourite, ‘YOU’RE THE ONE’. The final moments of her set saw her sat at a piano, unveiled by the rotating screen as she performed songs she’d produced like ‘Smile More’ from her debut album, Fin.
Eighteen-year-old d4vd provided us with one of the most heartwarming moments at Camp Flog Gnaw amidst the more rock-fused songs in his set. He told the crowd how he made all the songs he’d just performed in his six year old sister’s closet before bringing her out, getting everyone to say “Hello Emily!” and then getting everyone to turn the person next to them to say “Thank you for being here with me,” before the drifting guitar flooded through the speakers. His smooth vocals singing those heartfelt lyrics have been stuck in my head ever since, the belting on the chorus is sure to tug at anyone’s heartstrings.
Earl Sweatshirt’s set at Camp Flog Gnaw was highly anticipated as another seasoned vet of the festival graced the stage. He headlined the FLOG stage with producer/DJ Black Noi$e behind the decks. His bars bellowed through the mic across abstract production. That legendary intro off of ‘E. Coli’ had the crowd cheering as Earl brought out The Alchemist, one of the best producers in hip hop and a frequent collaborator of Earl’s. He also performed ‘Mac Skully’ off of coveted collab album VOIR DIRE. Domo Genesis made another appearance for ’20 Wave Caps’, the contrast between Domo’s high energy and Earl’s melancholic cadence came like yin and yang for the Odd Future members, balancing each other out. Zelooperz pops out for ‘Vision’, his playful cadence taking the crowd by storm as Earl takes a leaf out of his book and starts having more fun with his flow. His set was an abstract hip hop lover’s dream.
SZA went through her heartfelt catalogue with the perfect amount of hits from both SOS and Ctrl to put us in our feels with tracks like ‘Broken Clocks’, ‘Garden (Say It Like Dat)’, ‘F2F’ and ‘Ghost in the Machine’. She had similar set design to her SOS tour, like the waves of water and a lighthouse for the earlier tracks in her setlist, and a giant anchor underwater for ‘Kiss Me More’ and ‘Snooze’. She was swinging on a giant wrecking ball during ‘The Weekend’ as the crowd sang along. Her vibrant vocals throughout were full of emotion as she took us on the journey through her discography. She ran over curfew so unfortunately her mic was cut during ‘Good Days’ – but that didn’t stop the crowd singing as it was time to leave the festival.
Camp Flog Gnaw is undoubtedly the best festival I’ve ever been to in my life and considering I’ve been dreaming of attending since I was in my teens, it more than lived up to my expectations. I know I’m not the only person from the UK who’s been longing to attend, so I encourage anyone reading to go. It’s worth every penny and curated with fans in mind. I truly understand what Tyler means now when he says ‘Take me back to November’, because Camp Flog Gnaw is my November and I’m sure it’ll be yours too.
PHOTOGRAPHY: KAT FRIAR
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