“Man, WHEN did I get so old?”
Is the question I spent all night asking myself. Well, actually, I soon realised that it wasn’t age, it was the scene. I’ve never been a ‘cool’ kid, so being back in a situation where all the gig-goers were somewhere between 15 and 18, made me feel right back like I was at school again.
Zach (my companion for the night, a tall, lanky, olive skinned History-student slash social philosopher) and I tried to guess the kind of people we’d see at this gig before we got there. We got it pretty much bang-on. Late teenage, snapback wearing boys. A couple of them with a token girl or girlfriend. So me and Zach were in the minority, as we stood by the edge of Academy 2 at our Students Union in Manchester.
First on was Bishop Nehru, who Zach had assured me was worth seeing. For a seventeen-year-old high school student, this kid is exceptional. He wore an anorak with his hood up over his cap the whole gig long, which, quite frankly, judging by the heat in that room, makes him better than I could have been. He won the audience over with a really impressive stage presence, as he, between every song, chanted “one, two, three” and the rest of the crowd would respond with “Nehru!”. To be honest, this is the way I remember his name. He was a really funny guy, getting each side of the audience to shout “fuck the other side” in some sort of strange and (a little bit pathetic) standoff.
Huge tracks of his were Dilla produced SweetLips and Disclosure produced You Stressin’. It’s a mellow hip hop, from the sounds of his soundcloud, but there was definite energy in that room. He’s confident. His music is really warm sounding, undoubtedly coming somewhere from his clear 90s hip hop influences (Zach noted).
I was really impressed.
Next up, though, was the main event.
Two years after he came back from a juvenile correctional school in Samoa (his mother thought that he was going off the rails, what with being friends with Tyler the Creator, and writing lyrics about murder, rape and littered with homophobic slurs) Earl has some really loyal fans. He’s also hilarious.
Molasses from his album out last summer, Doris, was a huge one, as the crowd almost spat out the lyrics ‘I’m gonna fuck the freckles off your face bitch’, the line usually squared by RZA.
The highlight of the show, though, was definitely my favourite work of Sweatshirt’s, Burgundy. I like the tenderness so evident in it. Actually, I like everything about the track.
When the show ended. Earl laughed and told us all to go home because we had school the next day.
“Are y’all proud of yourselves”
“N’aaaw I’m proud of you too. I feel like your Dad, and like your Dad I have some bad news. This is the last song”.
The ‘Dad thing’ wasn’t new. Throughout the show, when Earl got sick of hecklers he refused to perform unless they heeded to his ‘time out’ and turned around to face the back of the room. In fact, at one point, he got the whole crowd to shout “get the fuck out” to one annoying kid. I like Earl. He’s got a sense of humour.
Lucas, his friend, DJ and fellow OFWGKTA member was a bit of a joker too. He dances a lot when DJing. And has really long hair. One of the girls next to me shouted ‘omg he’s so beautiful, I can’t believe it’s him, he’s so dfhjkshfksdfjk….’.
The gig was great. I loved it.
Earl, if you ever want to grab a pint and make me laugh, be my guest.