Earl Sweatshirt at the Academy, Dublin, 26th March 2014
Earl Sweatshirt has had a strange few years. From vanishing without a trace after his first mixtape was released to being found in boarding school in Samoa. He then released one of the best rap albums of the last decade; things haven’t exactly been run of the mill for the LA based rapper. Having played a support role in Slane last year Irish fans have been desperate to get him back on our shores.
With the crowd growing, a giant inflatable Earl head rises at the side of the stage as the chants for the rapper grow louder. This turns to a deafening level when Earl’s DJ, Lucas Vercetti, struts on stage acting as a DJ/hype man for a longer-than-necessary fifteen minutes. With the crowd ready to explode the American rapper finally makes his way onto the stage.
What is obvious from very early on, apart from the perfect delivery of lyrics and the flawless mixing by Vercetti, is that this is no ordinary crowd. The level of aggression is shocking and is thankfully not something Irish crowds are known for. Anyone familiar with Odd Future/Earl Sweatshirt and Co will know what to expect but witnessing it live doesn’t make it any easier.
Seeing ‘circle pits’ forming with over excited teenagers entering elbows and feet first with the intent to hurt each other really sets the tone for the night. This makes it very hard to relax enough to enjoy the blatantly obvious talent on show.20 Wave Caps and Molasses occupy the crowd long enough to eliminate the majority of the aggression . Sadly the feeling that something is about to go wrong in the crowd lingers in the air throughout the night.
When the set list rolls around to Chum Earl really shows off the talent that has made him one of the most exciting young rappers of the last few years. Towards the end of the song Vercetti cuts the music and allows Earl to rap the final few bars acapella with part of the crowd matching him word for word.
During Woah the crowd once again causes problems. When a fight breaks out a large number of concert-goers flock to the relative safety of the sidelines. Oblivious to this Earl delivers the highlight of the night and one of the stand-out tracks from his début album ‘Doris’.
Dipping into his back catalogue, Orange Juice and Earl are welcome additions to a set list impressive for someone still so young. As the concert draws to a close Earl demands that the crowd remain still and that those on the balcony “loose their shit”. Like a drill sergeant giving his soldiers an order both sets of fans duly oblige.
Drop brings an end to the evening and before leaving both Earl and Lucas show their appreciation to the fans by giving out as many high-fives as physically possibly to the thronged crowd.
Earl Sweatshirt looks destined to be one of the most successful rappers in years to come. The only issue he faces is the crowd problems that seem to regularly arise for both him and Odd Future. In previous years they have courted controversy by reportedly inciting riots at concerts.
In more recent times this has resulted in the Odd Future collective being banned from entering countries for concerts. It is a problem that they have created themselves but is further exasperated by a section of the fans that attend their concerts.
What should have been one of the stand out rap performances of the year will instead be remembered as uncomfortable. The demand for hip hop artists like this in Ireland is huge but venues may become reluctant to book when they see the problems they can cause.
Earl Sweatshirt Photo Gallery
Photos: Sean Conroy