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Festival Highlight: Tyler Hits a Home Run for Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival 2023

Updated: Mar 2

An aura of jubilation grew off the pavement as if a groupthink awareness knew the weekend was set to be incredible. Fans and artists alike gravitated towards the entrance with the knowledge that we're all in for something beyond special. The Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival had come back from its three-year hiatus with a bang, well before it had even begun. For a third time, the location would be at Dodger Stadium. Tyler, the Creator has taken the idea far from a block party held on Fairfax Avenue.

Sun bakes the asphalt as thousands of vehicles cram into the designated parking, looking like a drive-in cinema with no screen. The real show lies behind the entry, a full-blown carnival - not just some posh photo shoot bull shit yet rides on rides, game booths, and two Ferris wheels.

Fest Recap

My cousin and I had found our morning busy with rolling pre-rolls, packing ourselves ready for a wholesome day starting at eleven and ending twelve hours later. Entering on the hilly road into Dodger Stadium parking, we begin to see how massive the fest is bout to be.

Seeing Left Brain of Odd Future started the day off with a bang. Energetic as ever and got the crowd hyped. A throwback to the rowdy days of Odd Future.

At that point, we hopped over to catch Beabadoobee glowing on the sunny Camp Stage. Classic Y2K vibes cheerfully rocked the crowd, and admiring from afar was truly blissful. While we heard the set from afar, it was brutal missing Paris Texas.

An extremely interesting performance by Teezo Touchdown ensued. The recent opener for Travis Scott’s tour brought some serious energy in his colorful performance, a highlight was hearing ‘RUN IT UP’ off of Call Me If You're Get Lost. Dude’s presence was seriously unmatched.

Photo by @buxxbandocoot
Camp Flog Gnaw (Night View)

We morph over to Turnstile, the hardest band on the lineup by a long shot. They absolutely shredded their show, made way for a massive moshpit, and clearly had a blast doing it. Couldn’t begin to explain how badass hearing ‘Blackout’ is, a real facemelter.

My cousin and I found ourselves curious about the Ferris wheel, caught a lift, and scoped Kali Uchi from some high seats. The whole backdrop and essence of her show was euphoric and undeniably sexy. Grateful to have witnessed the scene from a ways away. Ice Spice thumped from the further away Flog Stage. With some time to spare before Tyler’s set, we landed by the Gnaw Stage to see the jazz legends Badbadnotgood.

Nearly shed a tear hearing their MF Doom tribute and mastery of their crafts. Great music to roast a joint to.

Before we knew it the mastermind behind Flog Gnaw was about to go on for his set, the Fairfax legend Tyler, the Creator. His attitude in being able to organize such a feat was humble. Bro had all these mangled and crushed cars on stage and a gigantic toy-grabber claw was poised behind him. You could tell man had fun with it. Surreal moment when he said ‘IFHY’ was his favorite track he’s made.

Pusha T
Pusha T(Live at Camp Flog Gnaw)

Holding ourselves together after the mayhem that followed, we march to see Clipse - Pusha T and No Malice (brothers if ya ain’t know!). The set design may have been the nuttiest of all weekend. A split-in-two Colombian plane lay on stage, amongst palm trees and smoke. A more fitting setting could not have been conceived. The set backdrop was done by photo-designer Sweet Cian.

Panning the camera that was filming the performers, Tyler was front and center spitting verses word for word. Mad special when you see two artists who genuinely appreciate each other’s talents. 

Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar (Live at Camp Flog Gnaw)

And the party is only getting started. As Clipse wraps up their set, we meander to the dense crowd gathering for Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar also known as The Hillbillies. In a first-time performance, the duo put together an all-star set. Kendrick bodying some newer tracks off of Mr. Moral and the Big Steppers. while Keem did some tracks off of The Melodic Blue.

Then forces collide and the crowd rages to ‘family ties,’ with Kendrick unveiling an Excalibur moment by unleashing ‘A.D.H.D.’ Vibes on vibes persisted, they bust out ‘The Hillbillies’ with Tyler hopping on stage with them. I’ll never forget hearing Kendrick say right before starting a track, “Shall we continue the festivities?”

In disbelief, the show ends somewhat abruptly with the hard curfew of 11pm. They had Tyler projected on the screens on stage with mic in hand, but they cut the audio and the crowd dispersed. We maneuver our way out of the stadium parking, and recount the unreal magic Flog Gnaw came back with.

Tyler the Creator
Tyler the Creator (Camp Flog Gnaw 2023)

Day two, I awoke with anticipation and more excitement than the first. More familiar with what we were in for, I knew this day had greatness ahead. With the quickness, we roll backwoods and take rips before mobbing on our way back to the fest.

Getting to Dodger Stadium just as Maxo Kream is making his way to the stage, I see an artist I have appreciated since 2016. Maxo doesn’t hold back, rocking old joints like ‘Brothers’, ‘Grannies’ and ‘Fetti.’ I’d say Maxo is rolling with more steam than he had back in the day and certainly gets the crowd geeked.

While doing merch runs, it was another goofy moment missing Mike G, Daisy World, and redveil. Blew my mind hearing redveil’s life changed from hearing Tyler, the Creator’s work at 11 years old, and Tyler actually attended his set. Our asses end up making it to Domo Genesis, another OG Odd Future-era rapper. The rhymesmith crushed his set, and I found out later he had his younger brother on stage with him. It’s subtle yet heartwarming to see the family connections visible throughout the weekend. 

We make our way over to Willow, whose uplifting presence is contagious. While we didn’t see it, Jaden Smith comes on stage to support and other overall energy is simply electric. Significantly different sound than what I expected, with almost alternative psych tones from some songs. We hop to the other side of the grounds and catch AG Club. The younger rappers came with hype and played an interesting dusk set.

Syd Live
Syd (Live @ Camp Flog Gnaw 2023)

A treat of treats, Syd is on next. Course I go to pull out a prerolled backwood, and to my obliviousness, they've been crushed and crumbled by the activities of the day. A joint will suffice, I tell myself. Syd’s beyond-euphoric RnB show almost felt like a sound bath. Her sincerity in delivery and voice overall just lifts the troubles from the mind. Potentially the calmest crowd we’d seen through the weekend. 

At that point, we head over to the bar by the Flog Stage and await Lil Yachty’s set. Little did we know, Yachty would come out swinging. Performing a-then-unreleased track ‘Gimmie Da Lite’ produced by Southside, the energy is like a lightning strike over a festering volcano. Yachty goes through the motions doing tracks such as ‘Strike’ and ‘Poland.’ Likely the most hype guest appearance all weekend, bringing out Offset of Migos to shake shit up. While a few hiccups paused the set a couple of times, this was one of those sets for the books. I get why bro is on the Coachella lineup for sure.

Briefly catching the flamethrower that is Dominic Fike, dude came out guns blazing and with no time to waste. Fike rocks and rocks hard but in this kind of jubilant, lighthearted way. Seriously fun tunes to dance or mosh too.

Toro Y Moi
Toro Y Moi (Live @ Camp Flog Gnaw 2023)

We dip a tad early to get over to Toro Y Moi’s stage. I take a deep breath because this man, this character is my hero. I can’t stop listening to Toro if I wanted to, and the show was breathtaking. A massive apple adorns the stage alongside the band, with a worn coming through one side. Heavily playing tracks from Outer Peace, which just turned 5 years old recently, I couldn’t believe how smooth the transitions were or how tight the band was. A bad note simply could not be played.

My obliterated dome takes a moment after the set to register what I just witnessed. Potentially the greatest show I’ve ever witnessed? Hard to say. But a favorite? For gotdamn sure. 

We collect ourselves and tread over to see Cuco, a band I’m truly unfamiliar with. The laidback rock band slowly grooves along before the headlining set and takes their time to show appreciation for such a crowd before them. Before we know it, we're on our way to see the final set of Sunday at Camp Flog Gnaw; SZA.

We get about halfway through the packed crowd and settle down, eyeing that we’ve got good ground. It's like we're at the bottom of an hourglass, seems as though people just keep filling in. A moment passes, my cousin and I look at each other not knowing what we're in for. And a bell rings.

SZA (Live@ Camp Flog Gnaw 2023)

Blue lights shimmer from the top of the stage, and blue waters fade onto the projecting screens on stage. The bell ringing almost sounds distant, like a lighthouse or boat. Strings of violins and other classical instruments hit the ear. A piano melody takes shape, and SZA’s soothing voice strikes the crowd. As we watch holding our breath, she plays a good amount of tracks off of S.O.S., and a highlight was hearing “All The Stars.”

While Sunday would reach the same fate as the night before - a swift cut off at 11, the crowd sees SZA performing her last track without the mic on, the crowd joining in and singing with her. 

It should be noted that many of the acts we witnessed are going to be lighting up Coachella, most notably friggin’ Tyler the Creator being Saturday’s headliner. Can’t forget Lil Yachty too. Keeping it short, all I can say is ripples undoubtedly make waves.


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