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Review: The Camp Flog Gnaw experience from a VIP ticket holder

Tyler%2C+The+Creator+has+been+hosting+Camp+Flog+Gnaw+since+2012.
Taylor Kellams/The Collegian
Tyler, The Creator has been hosting Camp Flog Gnaw since 2012.

Hip-hop fans everywhere have been anticipating the return of the Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival since its success in 2019. When Tyler, The Creator announced the dates for his festival in May, fans everywhere, including myself, rushed to get presale codes.

Palms were sweating on June 2 at noon as eager fans refreshed their computers to be the select few to get tickets before they were available to the general public. A wave of relief and excitement was met with the “Tickets Confirmed” notification. On Nov. 11-12, I experienced the Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival with my partner at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, paying $639.50 each for VIP tickets.

Arriving at the festival was long awaited. I had been anticipating and counting down to this date for months, and it was finally here. Seeing the stages from the entrance lines outside only made the anticipation grow stronger.

As I looked around, I saw thousands of people who shared the same excitement as me, dressed their best to see their favorite artists. I planned my concert experience around the schedule so I knew the exact times to see different sets.

The carnival was set up perfectly, with plenty of stages, games, rides and merch stores, including a venue map of where everything was. On the left there was the “Flog Stage,” the medium-sized stage with one large VIP section. On the right there was the “Gnaw Stage,” the smallest stage with no VIP section. In the middle there was the main and the biggest stage, the “Camp Stage,” with the largest VIP section, this is where headliners and larger artists would be performing.

Day One

Getting to the festival was surprisingly easy. I took the metro to Union Station and caught the Dodger Express bus to the stadium. The line for the Dodger Express was wrapped around the whole station, however the line went fast and I waited there no longer than 15 minutes.

I walked up a long, steep hill to reach the entrance of the stadium and passed crowds of people painting the sidewalks. When reaching the entrance to the festival, there was a separate VIP entrance, which bypassed the mile-long line stretching further than we could see.

While inside, I bought a 25-ticket wristband to play the carnival games for $30, then ended up adding $10 more dollars for 10 more tickets to win two Golf Wang Cherry Bomb Dolls.

I sat in the VIP section at the Flog Stage and ate while watching Maxo from a distance.

After finishing our lunch, we stayed in the VIP area at the “Flog Stage” for Fana Hues at 2:30 p.m. I had never listened to Fana before this, but her music moved the entire crowd and was the perfect artist to see first. The stage and the performance was extremely small and intimate, with all of her music being played on an Apple computer right behind her.

After Fana Hues, I headed over to the other side of the festival to the “Gnaw Stage” to watch Left Brain at 3 p.m. They had no issue getting the crowd hyped up, even for it being at the very beginning of the festival.

Walking up and to the right, Beabadobee was playing at 3:30 p.m. at the main “Camp Stage.” I dodged around the crowd and tried to get as close as possible to catch a glimpse of her. She switched guitars three different times and played slow, love songs to upbeat, rock songs.

Ending at 4:20 p.m., I rushed over to the “Flog Stage” to see Teezo Touchdown at 4:35 p.m. His entrance was long awaited and he came out in head to toe black football gear, with gloves, shoulder pads, knee pads and one of his tour shirts draped over his whole outfit.

Along with him, he brought out a mic stand covered in rainbow iridescent tassels and what looked to be a bouquet of carnations, in the middle of the bouquet was his microphone.

Smoke filled the stage and covered the audience like a wave. Fans screamed and horror music echoed throughout the crowd. A video of a person dancing in a horror mask was displayed as Kevin Abstract emerged from the side of the stage, screaming. The lights flickered red and white, and Abstract began playing his best, most upbeat songs. People all around me were forming mosh pits.

“Coming to Flog Gnaw, I was excited for the environment, being with people who respect you and are a part of the same community,” said Arman Abonitalla, a Tyler, The Creator fan since his “Goblin” album. Abonitalla came from out-of-state for the carnival.

Abstract’s performance ended at 6:10 p.m., leaving just enough time for me to run over to the main “Camp Stage” to see Kali Uchis. I ran through crowds of people to reach the VIP section to try and get as close as possible to the stage.

Covered in sequins and feathers, she emerged and opened with the song “Muñekita,” getting the crowd hyped up and jumping.
“I wish she got off the couch, she was tucked so far back in the stage that I only got to see her on the big screen. When she brought out Omar [Apollo] everyone around me was screaming. It’s really cool to see so many Latina singers here this year,” said Isabella Morales, a newer Kali Uchis fan since the release of her most recent album, “Red Moon in Venus.”

I was determined to get a good view of Tyler, The Creator. I waited for an hour between Kali and Tyler. After an hour of waiting and being shoved by fans desperate to get to the front, Tyler came on 15 minutes late, which is very on brand for him.

Tyler, stood on top of a car crash with a giant metal crane hanging overhead.
“This started off in a parking lot with 100 people,”Tyler said, as he stared down at fans from the stage. “To know that you guys care enough to come to this sh– is f—ing insane, thank you.”

He urged everyone to take 10 steps back because he knew how crazy it was going to be. Opening with “See You Again,” the crowd went wild, while pushing each other to get a better view, and to have enough space to dance.

My favorite song, “New Magic Wand,” which is also Tyler’s favorite, was the most insane experience I have ever had at a concert. He started off with a long intro, anticipating the beginning, “Sometimes you gotta close the door to open the window.” Then the song began.

Everyone rushed to the front, forming mosh pits all around me while I held on to my partner so we didn’t get separated by all of the people.

Tyler’s set was the best concert I have ever been to, singing songs from his oldest album, “Goblin” all the way to his newest album “Call Me If You Get Lost: The Estate Sale.”

“Tyler brings a different type of energy to his crowds, it’s really unique to see and be a part of it,” Xandria Cortez said after being a part of the audience during his performance. This was her second time seeing Tyler live.

After the magic that was Tyler, The Creator’s set, we ran over to the “Flog Stage” at 9:05 p.m. to catch the last few songs of the band Fuerza Regida that started at 8:55 p.m.

Only catching four songs from Fuerza Regada, we ran back over to the main “Camp Stage” to watch The Hillbillies, a duo composed of cousins Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar.

Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar only have one song together, so the audience was intrigued to see what else they were going to sing as they closed the festival. Their set turned out to be two concerts in one, hearing songs from Kendrick’s studio album, “Section.80,” and some of his most popular. Baby Keem also didn’t disappoint, playing some of his most known songs like “Orange Soda” and “16.”

Day one of Camp Flog Gnaw was more than I could’ve ever expected. Carnival rides stretched across the whole festival with carnival games having merch as prizes, fair food and vendor food, and crowds of people dressed to the nines to see their favorite artists.

Fans recreate outfits based on Tyler, The Creator’s iconic persona behind the “Igor” album. (Taylor Kellams/The Collegian)

Day Two

I left my Airbnb to walk to the metro station at 10:30 a.m., arriving at Union Station at 11:47 a.m. to take the Dodger Express buses to the festival.

Unlike day one, I was not met with a line stretching across the entire station, instead we walked right up to the bus and got on immediately.

As the day went on, getting hotter by the minute, I decided to try out an ice cream vendor. I decided to try Van Leeuwen Ice Cream and got a double scoop of honeycomb and brown sugar cookie dough ice cream for $14.24, and not only was it delicious, it also kept me cool.

After finishing the ice cream, I went back to the VIP section at the “Flog Stage” and sat in the shade to watch Khamari serenade the crowd with love songs.

We decided to stay at the “Flog Stage” after Khamari’s set was over at 1:55 p.m. to see DJ Spinall at 2:20 p.m.

As someone who loves going to raves, I was so excited to see the turntable on the stage. He remixed some of his own songs, while also remixing other DJ’s songs. He played songs from all over the world, and emphasized that he is the first Jamaican that has ever been on that stage.

After Spinall’s set was finished, I remained at the “Flog Stage” to watch Daisy World at 3:20 p.m.

As someone who doesn’t listen to Daisy World, her set was intimate and engaging. She had a great stage presence and showed off her personality with her mentioning making her own set props and bedazzled pants.

Having a barricade view for Daisy World, I decided to wait it out to watch Domo Genesis at 4:20 p.m. As the crowd flooded with more people, we clung onto the barricade.

Domo came on the smoke filled stage and the crowd screamed and started jumping. After his opening song, he was extremely engaged with the crowd, letting the crowd pick the songs he sang and repeatedly saying “I got y’all, I got yalls back.”

I ran up to the stage as AG Club was opening. Lights flashed red and they emerged in skeleton vests. Staying near the back because I was not familiar with all of their songs, it was still fun jumping and moshing with their biggest fans as they jumped into the crowd to join.

“When Jody jumped in to mosh with us it was f—ing sick,” said Evan Briggs, a AG Club fan since their first album, “Halfway Off The Porch.” “People were trying to grab his chains and earrings, it was stupid, it’s why it’s so rare to have artists interact that much with their fans.”

Leaving AG Club’s set 10 minutes early, I walked to the “Camp Stage” at 5:20 p.m. to watch Syd.

I sat in the grass and watched Syd’s first couple of songs from a distance, after finishing my food and hearing the beginning of “Girl,” I ran to the crowd. Syd sang some of her solo songs, some of her songs with Kaytranada and some of her songs from The Internet catalog. She also announced that there will be new music for The Internet coming soon and that they are meeting in the studio to record, in which the crowd went crazy.

Leaving Syd’s set 10 minutes early, we ran over to the “Flog Stage” to see Lil Yachty at 6:30 p.m. The crowd was covering the entire lot, with people shoulder to shoulder trying to get a good view.

Mosh pits were formed within the first song, as he played a bunch of his new stuff. Towards the middle of the set, Offset came on stage singing “Bad and Boujee,” and “Peek a Boo.”

A few times in Lil Yachty’s set, his mic was having problems so he had to pause for a couple minutes, which took one song off his setlist and the whole crowd started booing.

After Lil Yachty’s set ended, we walked across the festival to the “Gnaw Stage,” catching a quick show at the “Camp Stage” for Dominic Fike.

At the “Gnaw Stage,” Toro y Moi came on at 7:25 p.m. This was one of my favorite sets from the whole weekend, the crowd gave everyone room to dance without pushing and the stage was colorful and hypnotizing. Everyone was just there to vibe.

I am a more recent fan of his. He captivated me with his electronic, alternative style, but even without knowing some of the songs he played, you could still dance to them.

After Toro y Moi, we walked just next door to the main “Camp Stage” to watch Rex Orange County at 8:10 p.m. Despite only knowing his mainstream songs, I still planted our seeds in the crowd because we knew SZA was next.

Rex played for an hour, his set ranging from electric guitars and screaming, to slow love songs.

My back and feet were hurting, by this time I had been jumping from stage to stage for the past 10 hours, with only one sit down break.

After Rex’s set was finished, some of the crowd left, so that was my time to get as close as possible for SZA’s set at 9:55 p.m.

I managed to get to the center of the crowd, only being able to see when I peeked my head through the gaps people left between them.

SZA came out two minutes late and opened with “Seek and Destroy,” while the stage behind her looked like an ocean.

She sang some of her most popular songs, from “Ctrl,” “SOS” and even the song “Rich Baby Daddy” from Drake’s newest album, “For All The Dogs.”

Her set was constantly changing scenery with each new song she sang, and she danced the entire time with her backup dancers, “I’m gonna shake some ass,” she said, as she sang “Rich Baby Daddy.”

SZA’s set was the one I was most excited to see, besides Tyler’s, as I wasn’t able to get tickets to her “SOS” tour.

Curfew was at 11 p.m., “They made me cut two songs y’all,” SZA said. The time was 11:51 p.m.

Wanting to end on a high note, she started playing “Good Days,” this being one of my favorite SZA songs, I was screaming so loud. She sang the first two notes, but then her mic cut out. She was motioning to her ear asking if we could still hear her, but we couldn’t. She remained singing even though we couldn’t hear her, and the entire crowd joined in.

At this time, the crowd was screaming the lyrics while she was smiling and waving goodbye.

“I was definitely most excited to see SZA,” said Kaya Meadows. “She’s my favorite artist and being so close to her was awesome. She gets the crowd so hype. This was my favorite artist I’ve seen this weekend.”

Meadows camped out all day at the “Camp Stage” to be as close as possible to her favorite artist.

Overall, for my first festival experience, Camp Flog Gnaw did not disappoint. The community was amazing, and throughout the two days, multiple people asked me if I was okay or if I needed anything.

The music had such variety and richness that anyone could enjoy it. Being surrounded by so many people who enjoy and appreciate the same culture and art as you is unbeatable. That being said, the VIP tickets, despite being $200 more, were absolutely worth it.

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