OFWGKTA at The Olympia Theatre on April 2nd 2012

Review: James Hendicott
Photos: Sean Conroy

Pete Doherty. OK Go. Peter Andre, Slipknot, The Ordinary Fear Of God and, dare we say it, Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All. The LA rap collective’s reputation places them amongst a choice selection of acts: artists known more prominently, to various extents, for something other than their music. In the case of OFWGKTA, that thing is a pointedly offensive, homophobic and misogynist outlook; the latest musical incarnation of the devil (according to some), and a big, bold target for outraged outsiders. Frontman Tyler, as far as we can work out, doesn’t actually like very much.

So what of it? Even if Odd Future are tongue in cheek – and it’s a difficult one to argue, even allowing for the ‘but our band member’s a lesbian’ argument that sound suspiciously like ‘I’m not racist, I have lots of black friends’ – they have certainly attracted anger and a lot of adoration. If you need proof of the perceived risk, it comes in the searches on the way into The Olympia tonight (a real rarity), the increasingly angsty vibe down the front and the heavy involvement from security throughout.

You could argue – especially in cases like this – that a musician gets the audience they deserve. For all the miscreant anger on show here, from both band and the audience, what goes on stage side has actually calmed since we last saw them. The sound set up allows Syd Da Kid’s beats to dominate tonight, with many of the lines lost in the mix. While the crowd are boisterous to the point of hero worship, there’s no doubting that the energy level from the rappers – even compared to Oxegen, where Tyler had a broken foot and still managed to leap like a lunatic – are markedly down.

Hodgy is a clear stand out. Bringing with him the witty, more refined prose that helps shovel along his impressive side project ‘Mellowhype’, not least a stunning rendition of 64. He effortlessly steals the limelight from the lippy Tyler The Creator, despite being stood back right of the stage for large chunks. On tonight’s evidence, Hodgy’s freestyle outtakes are the smoothest, his flow the most natural and his content at least edging towards intelligent.

Elsewhere, NY (Ned Flander) and the irrepressible Yonkers are the high points, in part because of the insanely intense crowd reaction, while Mike G and Tyler work things from the front row, bouncing from leg to leg and staying just far enough from the crowd to avoid being sucked into the furore. With the ‘bitch’ count muted somewhat by the less than crisp sound, the two hour, 25 song set drags at times, with the highs emphatic in their energy and the lows abusive and irritating. The “smoke weed, fuck school” refrain from Sandwitches pretty much sums things up: infectious, deliberately provocative, and above all – unlike RATM’s similar but more politically minded “fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” – essentially a rallying call to failure.

Above all, though, tonight’s show is more notable for the energy and agro from the crowd than for Odd Future themselves, and that’s what will live longest in memory. See them as an inspiration, or – the way we lean on most tracks – an act intent on using the most offensive language they can manage in the attempt to keep hold of a devilishly insulting reputation, it seems the bandwagon rolls on. Largely, at least live, it’s not technically brilliant rap, but that’s beside the point. OFWGKTA are proving one show and one article at a time that the maths is simple: do something offensive enough, consistently enough, and the fact that there are much better people out there won’t stop the headlines.