Photos and review by Sam Glaser
Were you at the Concord on March 29th for Earl Sweatshirt? When did you show up? I rolled up late to the party that night – I went across the city and back that day, which pushed my entry time back some. At 7, entering the venue, security stopped me for a bag search and pat down. Concord’s on point with that stuff. Courtesy of the bouncers, I found out that, APPARENTLY, flasks aren’t allowed in there, even if they’re empty… which they were. I walked back to my car, deposited the contraband into my passenger seat, and walked back. Who did I see when I tried to get in afterwards? My new favorite security team! Second pat down, second bag search, everything goes fine. I walked up the stairs oozing trepidation (did I mention it’s my first time shooting photos at a gig?) and located the entrance to the photo pit, stage left. I stood in a herd of photographers, each of us getting let in for a song or so until security motioned us to return to the crowd. I hopped into the little chute, sidestepped through the tight spots, and got to shooting. Fucking rush, kids, I’ll tell ya.
Earl Sweatshirt, son of a poet, truly enjoys his scene. Vince Staples warmed the crowd up well, pulling covers and throwbacks. Sweatshirt arrived unannounced at the end of Vince’s set to perform “Hive” off Earl’s debut album, Doris. Disclaimer–I’m not an Earl superfan. I jumped on the OF bandwagon when Volume 2 came out, and followed separate parts of the Odd Future family while they expanded their market share in the music industry. I like Earl’s older stuff more than the new, but seeing his performance was a hell of a lot of fun. Earl was working the crowd, pointing out people in the audience and talking to them directly. At one point, the hecklers were having a bit of fun and Earl straight up copped a pose and said, “I’m just not gonna do anything ’til n****s stop saying stupid shit.” A hush. A smile. Hand motions from Earl and the next song begins. No animosity from the stage or the crowd; simply ejaculating extra energy in the heat of the moment. He clowned onstage, trading Vince’s ad-lib “bounce” for mock-joyful cheers, calling out to the crowd, grinning as he hammed it up, exaggerating his cheerful exclamations.
Relaxed enjoyment pervaded the Concord; there was no false posing onstage or in the crowd. Everyone was there exclusively to have a good time and listen to some syrup-slow rhythms topped by Earl’s spit. Towards the end of Sweat’s set, I approached a crowdsurfer I’d noticed earlier; wildly waving a crutch, he had risen and sank while he floated across the top of the crowd. The crutch was now tucked under his arm, and his face, lit up while he had been flying across the sea of rap aficionados, was now set into a scowl. Turns out someone in the crowd had snatched his wallet while he was riding the wave of human arms. I dapped him up for being a good sport about it. As the dude walked/crutched out, Earl started the old shit. The good shit. THE MUSIC I KNEW WORDS TO!
“Orange Juice”! Yes! I could almost see the clown face leering at me from the EP. Earl played this one through his verse and let it get a couple bars into Tyler’s verse before chuckling and signaling Stony to cut the song. “Drop”…bitch. Earl ended on a good note and left the stage. Some newbs ducked out, looking to beat the crush, but I knew better. Another OF gem surfaced as the encore: “Earl”. You know it. You love it. It was REALLY good. He closed with a song called “Hell”, which features the A$AP beat from “Brand New Guys”. Good beat to end on.
Love the young man or not, Earl belongs on a stage. In moments between songs he’d sometimes half-jog back to his DJ, talking to Stony about something, both of them smirking and shaking their heads before fist bumping and jumping into the next track. There’s love on that stage, for comrades and their music.
I took some photos, hope some of ’em came out. Check my work below.