Camp Flog Gnaw Redefines the Music Festival

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With the successful closeout of its fourth year, Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival continues to prove how well suited Tyler, the Creator is to his arrogant moniker. For one day, the L.A. Coliseum became the rapper-­turned-­mogul’s playground, complete with carnival rides, games, and a jam-packed hip-­hop line up.

With the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Syria heavy on my heart and mind, the festival felt surreal at first. As we wound through the entrance, we were greeted with blinking lights and bright, cartoonish art. Young women trotted by in crop tops and high­-waisted cut­offs, casually puffing on vape blunts while explicit rap music wafted across the festival grounds. I began to recognize Camp Flog Gnaw for what it truly was: an unapologetic celebration of youth, expression, and freedom.

 

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Photo by Mark Pangilinan

 

The festival boasted a lineup that was equal parts contemporary, experimental, and classic, with hip-­hop icons like Living Legends, Atmosphere, and Snoop Dogg trading online the stage with rising newcomers like The Internet, Mr. Carmack, and TOKiMONSTA. I’d say they were passing the torch, but the veterans made it clear that they have no intention of retiring any time soon. By far my favorite performance of the night was Atmosphere, who had the entire lawn reciting lyrics for songs that will soon be celebrating their sweet sixteen.

Tyler’s was another memorable performance, and although his aggressive style of rap would seem to contradict Snoop’s laid back flow, he proved to be the perfect opener, successfully coaxing the majority of the sold out venue to the lawn. It was my third time seeing Snoop Dogg live, and I’d just as soon see him again; the rapper’s arsenal of hits proves to be endless.

 

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Photo by Noel Batiste

 

As we made our way to the exit, Snoop Dogg closed his set with his 2011 shared single “Young, Wild, and Free.” We linked arms and belted out, “So what we get drunk,” just as belligerently as you’d expect. Arriving at the song’s closing verse, the lyrics felt more like a promise, and our collective voices trailed off rebelliously into the night: “That’s how it’s supposed to be; living young and wild and free…”

Tyler and his band of carnies have a full year to plan something epic for their fifth installment of Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival, but in the meantime he’s shown us the true spirit of DIY, and given us hope for an odd future where our voices can be heard.

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