I was trying to explain to a fellow “old person” just what it is about ODD FUTURE, aka OFWGKTA, the sprawling collective of ADHD-generation horror-core/skateboard rappers that's making “the kids” around the world lose their collective pubescent shit before their show last night at the Paradise. No, no, you don't get it, I said. They're legitimately crazy.
What, they stage dive a lot?
Well, OK, when you put it that way, that doesn't sound like such a big deal. But they, like, shout lyrics like “Kill people burn shit fuck school” and “Fuck the police” while they're blunted out of their minds, and yell really loud on stage and wave towels around.
In other words it's Insane Clown Posse for teenagers who pretend like they're going to fight people on their skateboard instead of the ones who cry in the mirror about their budding man boobs.
OK, but why is this group such a total thing again? As the Phoenix's Chris Faraone pointed out in his great piece on the group's rise to fame, everyone is on their dicks, from the New York Times to Pitchfork to, well, us. Just ask the group if you don't take my word for it. They've got tons of songs about their dicks, like the appropriately titled “Bitch Suck Dick,” which, if you've never seen a room full of 500 teenagers with awful b.o. shouting the same, you haven't lived. “By the way, we do punch bitches,” goes one line.
After seeing their show last night, or rather, having it happen to me, and considering the near riot the group's front man Tyler, the Creator caused at a record signing for his just dropped Goblin earlier in the day, on which he unrolls lines like “I'm not a fucking role model, I'm a 19 year old fucking emotional coaster with pipe dreams.” and “I'm not homophobic, faggot” it's clear that they're the most thrilling act in the business right now.
The fact that someone like me is skeptical about whether or not this is a group worth rioting over is precisely the point though. When you've got 30-somethings like myself and Phoenix music editor Michael Marotta vaguely nervous about checking out a show because we have no idea whether or not the club is going to go down in flames, you know you're doing something right.
“When was the last time you can even remember a show where you just needed to be there because you didn't know what was going to happen?” was a common question amongst our friends in attendance.
Mission accomplished for the overly-hyped crew then, who destroyed the room in a sweaty, smoky, hoarse-throated mess of an hour plus set. The way the kids were wilding out in the crowd it was like some Justin Bieber shit for future oxycontin addicts who hate their mothers.
Live hip hop always blows though, no matter how good the stuff sounds on record. There's no denying that Odd Future has got some truly captivating recorded stuff. Not much yet, mind you, but enough to keep you trolling through You Tube for a half hour, particularly the gritty, horrifying, and just maybe brilliant “Yonkers” from Tyler, the quintessential example of the type of song music blogs blog about other music blogs blogging about.
“There are a lot of OG Odd Future fans that hate this song since it got us new fans,” Tyler said on stage Thursday, which is strange to consider that a song that's barely existed a year on the national conscience, if that, is already old enough to be considered the anthem of the sell out fans. This music cycle is getting too sped up to understand anymore. Still, it was the loudest crowd sing along I've ever seen in the Paradise. “I'm a fucking paradox. No I'm not.”
Clever turns of phrase like that, and playing the line between insanity and knowing that you're too smart to actually be insane is a big part of their appeal. For all their misogyny, homophobia and violence, Odd Future are most certainly not dumb. They know exactly what they're doing. It's dangerous, and that's entirely the point. Or at least it seems so, all jokes aside. Although our man Evan Kenney of Bodega Girls had a few too many good one-liners to ignore over the course of the night.
“Odd Future, making skateboarders like hip hop since last Wednesday.”
“Odd Future, making homophobia cool again.”
Boston's Bad Rabbits were in the crowd as well, and tweeted: Yo this @ofwgkta @fucktyler show is like Bane meets Mobb Deep meets Blood for Blood meets Boston College.
Mikey Lee, boston DJ and producer Coralcola took it further:
@coralcola "This crowd is mobb deep meets blood for blood meets jersey shore"
I tweeted myself last night @lukeoneil47: "#swag #ofwgkta if I make it out of here without fighting a dude born in the 2000s ill be surprised."
"I just got in a fight with a dude who doesn't know who Bill Clinton is," Kenney responded.
Earlier on while waiting outside, Marotta tweeted: It's official, I'm finally afraid of white teenage boys.
Over all I just sort of thought it was like watching Wu Tang if they could all still jump really high. But this music isn't made for me, now is it? It's made for children seething with post-millennial anger. For people who aren't afraid to break their ankles on a skateboard, or play video games for 14 hours a day and jerk off a half dozen times before noon, or climb on top of a speaker cab on the Paradise stage when the entire crowd rushed it toward the end and wobble it around like they're ready to smash a dozen people below in a bloody mess.
It's been a while since the kids have had a band that generally makes old heads feel like they're out of the loop, and that's fucking awesome.
Is it great music? No, not really. But who needs to play songs when you're already playing upon the emotional confusion and outrage of disaffected suburban youth like a fucking instrument. Let them do their thing, there's plenty of time to be jaded about it later.