Tatum Van Dam
Camp Flog Gnaw: 100 to 0, Real Quick
Last weekend marked Tyler, the Creator’s annual carnival, Camp Flog Gnaw: a weekend of hip-hop music, Fairfax avenue fashion, ring tosses and rides alike, and now, collectively boo-ing one of the largest acts in the music industry off the main stage. What is usually regarded as a weekend getaway for the misfits has revealed itself as something much larger and problematic to some. On Sunday, November 11, Camp Flog Gnaw deemed itself the festival of false expectations and poor planning.
Over the years, Camp Flog Gnaw has gained itself some clout, making the move from Exposition Park to Dodger Stadium. Some legendary acts have graced its stages, and last year was no exception. Ms. Lauryn Hill performed her award winning album, Kids See Ghost’s did their first and only live performance, and the list goes on: SZA, Billie Eilish, Kali Uchis, Rex Orange County. I nearly had a heart attack when the lineup dropped. With such an incredible curation of talent, I was curious to see how this year could top it.
(Nothing. Nothing could possibly top it.) While this year’s lineup, albeit fantastic, was not up to par with last year’s, there was one act whose name sparked curiosity amongst the crowd, “???." Yes, question mark, question mark, question mark.
Festivals are known for bringing out surprise guests -- most notably, when that guest has a featured verse on a specific artist’s song. In this case, rather than having a mystery guest feature, there was a mystery headliner. Given the fact that last year’s headliners were SZA and Kids See Ghost, who were not revealed as surprises, expectations for this year were high. Speculations were made, and fans, including myself, decided that Frank Ocean was the mystery guest.
Every year, if Camp Flog Gnaw has a surprise guest, festival goers assume that it is going to be Frank Ocean. While years in the past have deemed the assumptions as incorrect, this year was different; unlike past years, Frank Ocean has been dropping singles and merchandise, presumably in anticipation of an album. With Frank Ocean’s recent activity in music, it just made sense for him to headline the festival.
As day two of the festival creeped around, Triple Question Mark remained lingering until their set time of 9:55PM. At approximately 10:01PM, Tyler walked out on stage and asked if he could “bring out a few friends” to “just have a good time for the next hour.” The first friend: A$AP Rocky. The second friend: Lil Uzi Vert. After Lil Uzi Vert left the stage, Tyler asked, “can I bring out another friend?” The third friend: Drake?
I did not realize Tyler and Drake were friends. I mean, I know celebrities are interconnected in weird ways, but Tyler and Drake is a friendship that I could not have called. See, A$AP Rocky and Lil Uzi Vert are understandable -- I plead guilty to watching a ten minute YouTube video of A$AP and Tyler bantering with one another. But Drake? I haven’t thought of him since Lauryn Hill threw shade at him for sampling “Ex Factor” on “Nice For What”.
Drake took the main stage and proclaimed that he was going to play two songs. After the two, he asked if he could play a few more songs. And after that, he asked to play some more songs to which a confused, angry, and upset crowd denied his permission. They wanted Frank.
Shortly after Drake was booed off the stage, memes and remarks circulated the internet, firing shots at the attendees who heckled one of the biggest names in the music industry off of the main stage.
I understand boo-ing someone off stage is rude. I did not boo Drake; however, I understand why it happened.
This issue could have been mitigated had Drake been revealed as a guest prior to his performance. Fans could have decided whether or not they wanted to stay and see his set, or escape the carnival early to avoid the traffic. Drake’s performance was disorganized and did not frame him as the closer for the festival. He began his set giving the notion he was “just another friend of Tyler’s performing two songs” just as Rocky and Uzi, and gave the impression that someone would go on after him.
It is not that the headliner had to be Frank Ocean, but knowing the crowd of Camp Flog Gnaw, it should not have been Drake -- that clearly wasn’t what the audience wanted. The artists in Camp Flog Gnaw’s lineup fit perfectly into a playlist -- Dominic Fike, Clairo, BROCKHAMPTON, Blood Orange. Add Drake to the mix and you’ve got yourself a confused listener and a “skip track”. The headliner could have been anyone who fits the vibe of the festival -- Kali Uchis, Rex Orange County, Steve Lacy.
The audience is not entirely at fault. I have developed a conspiracy that Drake was not the intended headliner for the festival. Goldenvoice and Tyler secured a certain artist, which fell through weeks before the festival, and they locked in Drake at the last minute and used A$AP and Uzi to cushion the blow.
Surely this has been a learning lesson to festival curators and Frank Ocean fans. It is important to be transparent with your audience and set realistic expectations.
Yet again, Frank Ocean stays winning the game by doing absolutely nothing.