Santos Party House
Tuesday, February 15
Better than: Being wherever Earl is right now.
Well, that was hostile. You will all have your own highlights from this, the second live NYC appearance from everyone’s favorite stupendously inappropriate underage L.A. rap collective, but as for me and my house, we’ll stick with the latest chapter in mastermind Tyler the Creator’s ongoing compendium of asthma humor. “Who the fuck got asthma here?” he demands, toward the end of this bruising, seething, intermittently thrilling hour-long affair, when we’re all indeed out of breath, emotionally if not physically. He holds up an inhaler and starts howling like a baby: “SWAAAAAAAG! SWAAAAAAAAG!” We laugh. We are grateful for the chance. These guys are not funny in the traditional sense. Seconds earlier, Tyler had introduced a new song with “I plan on getting on Bill O’Reilly and having a bunch of white parents hate me for this motherfucker”; seconds later, he notes, “I just wanna slap the fuck out of all parents, and bloggers, and fuckin’ ugly people.” The guy knows his demo.
Quoting these guys swearing a lot is basically my role here. This show is in all likelihood less absurd and more logically structured than OF’s first local gig, at Webster Hall’s Studio in November, but that’s relative; the personnel tonight is whittled down to Domo Genesis (disarmingly cheerful), Hodgy Beats (pint-size, hilariously combative, openly contemptuous of “the old people in the back”), Left Brain (no impression), and your DJ, Syd, who looks, like, 12. Oh, and Tyler, of course, towering over everyone. He takes the stage in a hoodie with “Fuck the Greater Good” emblazoned on the back, screams “Who the fuck invited Mr. I Don’t Give a Fuck?”, stops the song, kicks all the photographers offstage, disappears, waits until the song restarts, and then bursts out to scream, “Who the fuck invited Mr. I Don’t Give a Fuck?” again. He does not comport himself like a guy on Vampire Weekend’s label. He’s wearing knee-high striped socks. His voice is a bloody, serrated rasp. His frequent, ferocious stage dives are expressly designed to encourage lawsuits. It’s great.
He cedes the spotlight often, though, mostly to Hodgy and Left Brain, whose Mellowhype stuff strains to exude that same charisma, though when Hodgy gets warmed up he’s a trip, ripping his shirt off and tearing into “Fuck the Police” with enraged gusto. (His best performance tonight is definitely his anti-people-in-the-back rant, however. “Fuck your job! How many kids you got, bitch?”) And everyone helps out on the night’s best moment, a nearly entirely a capella version of Tyler’s “Seven,” a sort of primal-scream-therapy manifesto: “Black Nazis don’t copy/We perfect, you sloppy,” “I’m not no fuckin’ Kid Cudi,” “Motherfuckers want to be Odd but you can’t be,” “Suck my dick in Spanish.”
The songs themselves are as you know and love them from the Internet. Tyler’s new “Yonkers” is clearly the jam, the best draft yet of their stabbing synth/ominous bassline blueprint; he does other new songs that fit right in. (The one that includes the line “I wanna be the reason why all lesbians hate dick” is, uh, the catchiest.) And the crowd is right there through all of it, screaming WOLF GANG!! and FUCK STEVE HARVEY!! and all the words to “Earl,” of course. We climax and conclude with a new track built around the chorus “Kill people/Burn shit/Fuck school,” which is awfully fun to shout in public, or have shouted at you. “I’m a fuckin’ radical!” Tyler insists, repeatedly, before slamming the mic down and stalking offstage, only to return a few minutes later, sincerely thank us for coming, and insist that “You can be anyone you wanna be/Fuck everybody else.” Baby, you’re a firework. See you in a few hours on national television.
Critical Bias: Walked up to the club with Taylor Swift’s “Enchanted” on repeat.
Random Notebook Dump: A few inter-crowd brawls at this thing, apparently. “That’s the kinda shit I like to see,” Tyler announces giddily after one. “Nigga got socked in his fuckin’ face.”
Overheard: No white people saying “Swag,” mercifully.