The rap group Odd Future — well, technically, Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, or OFWGKTA — played its first-ever New York show last night at the Studio at Webster Hall. More to the point: The rap group Odd Future played its first-ever New York show last night at the Studio at Webster Hall since getting Internet famous.
The L.A. collective — made up of a bunch of skate kids in their teens or early 20s and led by the producer/rapper/former film student Tyler, the Creator — dropped a barrage of material this summer. Most of it was explicit and contrarian and confusingly packaged and way harder than any teenagers have the right to be; all of it was released for free on their Tumblr. In its wake came a trail of breathless blog posts attempting to capture the singular appeal. Fader: “If the rappers in Odd Future were indicative of California’s social climate, the West Coast would be currently experiencing a miniature apocalypse, complete with grocery store looting and armed survivalist militias, plus tons of drugs and skateboarding.” Pitchfork: “Talented, hilarious, villainous, immature, precocious, and viral — they are at the vanguard of modern hip-hop.” L.A. Weekly: “Larry Clark just jizzed his pants.”
So, yeah: Last night — an opportunity for Odd Future to prove they can do their thing IRL — was a bit of a big deal for the kind of people who obsessively follow Internet micro-trends. Odd Future did not disappoint.
It didn't hurt that the crowd was wired, game to chant back “Wolf Gang” or “Fuck the police” or “Tina, burn your fucking weave” or “Swag” or whatever else was being called out by the rotating cast of shouty youths, half of them in “Fuck OFWGKTA” T-shirts (you want one yet?). Tyler did his track “Seven,” about how he really hates his dad, and half the crowd was yelling the words back at him. Then he jumped from an ominous whisper to a full boom, all while doing that thing where your eyes roll into the back of your head, and everyone really freaked out. Later, he'd barrel roll into the audience. At one point, Vulture was bumped from behind and turned around to see an unidentified member of the Odd Future team, who'd run around the back of the crowd, rapping and shoving his way back onto the stage. Mos Def, in what may have been a Hamid Karzai–style Karakul hat, was tucked away on the side, smiling and bopping his head in approval.
Wrapping things up, Tyler went after a few of his regular targets (the rap blogs 2DopeBoyz and NahRight, the rapper Kid Cudi) to loud approval, and boosted by the response, declared, “Fuck it, we'll do another song. And if the venue got a problem with us going over 30 minutes, suck my sick.” Also: “We'll do only one more 'cause my asthma is flaring up.” On the way out, Vulture tried to corner Mos Def, to see if maybe he could explain OFWGKTA. He only had one thing to say: “Swag!”