Camp Flog Gnaw returns to Exposition Park

Tyler, The Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival celebrated its sixth year on Oct. 28 and 29. Photo by Dillon Matthew | Daily Trojan

Artists such as Lana Del Rey, Solange, Kid Cudi, A$AP Rocky and Tyler, The Creator performed to sold-out crowds in Exposition Park this weekend for the sixth annual Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival.

Exposition Park is no stranger to Los Angeles festival-goers. FYF Fest inhabits the grounds during the summer months for three days to sold-out crowds and enthusiastic fans. And with Camp Flog Gnaw’s ever-growing popularity, Exposition Park may be giving the Empire Polo Club, which hosts the Stagecoach and Coachella Valley Music and Arts festivals (respectively), a run for its money. Those who attended FYF Fest surely got a taste of déjà vu upon entering the festival grounds. The setup, from the entrance line to the food vendors, was essentially identical. The entrance queue moved at a brisk pace, and not many had to wait too long to settle into the festival. However, people shouldn’t let the general similarities lull them into thinking that both festivals are the same. The greatest difference between FYF and CFG was the presence of carnival rides. In addition to the multiple Ferris wheels across the park, there were six other rides festival-goers could occupy while waiting for their favorite artists, including a giant swinging ship and a zero-gravity spinner.

The other greatest difference was the weather. Many substituted crop tops and bandeaus for sweaters and bombers. Furthermore, nostalgia was the primary theme at Camp Flog Gnaw. Many were dressed in classic ’80s and ’90s garb, such as neon windbreakers, fanny packs, Tretorns and New Balances. It was also no surprise to see many dressed in Halloween costumes, given that many had to sacrifice their weekend party plans to attend the festival. Overall, there was a playfulness, akin to childlike amusement, to Camp Flog Gnaw noticeably missing at other festivals.

But of course, the reason people showed up and endured the crowds was for the music. Highlights from Day 1 included Mac Miller, Kelela and Tyler, The Creator. The biggest jaw-dropper, however, came from Mac Demarco, who was billed as  a “Special Guest” during the 6:15-6:45 p.m. timeslot. Though there was chatter that the guest would be Frank Ocean, the indie rocker still received an enthusiastic response as he performed songs like “Passing Out Pieces” and “One More Love Song.”

Tyler, The Creator also delivered a memorable set, as many Saturday guests seemed most ecstatic to see the festival’s mastermind. His set seemed easily the most packed, as he performed songs such as “Where This Flower Blooms” from his latest album, Flower Boy.

Closing out the first day was singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey. On the heels of her latest album release, Lust For Life, she began her set with “13 Beaches,” but didn’t shy away from her classics, such as “Video Games” and “Born to Die.” Clad in a classic little black dress and matching choker, Del Rey’s aesthetic has evolved over the years, yet she remains true to her sad-girl Americana persona. The crowd emptied a bit at the Camp Stage following Tyler, the Creator’s performance, leaving Del Rey’s superfans to engage in a more intimate experience with the New York-born chanteuse.

Day 2 began a bit more slowly than the first, though there was no shortage of stamina from many festival-goers. The weather was considerably less sunny than the day before, and Angelenos got their first real taste of autumnal cloudiness for the season. The crowds seemed to arrive in masses as the day went on, waiting for artists such as A$AP Rocky, Solange, 2 Chainz and Kid Cudi.

During his set, A$AP Rocky brought out Tyler, The Creator and Playboi Carti (who also performed Sunday) for “Telephone Calls,” which received an obvious ovation from the crowd. Solange delivered the most well-executed and meticulous performance of the festival. The Houston-born artist has been making rounds in both solo and festival gigs.

In fact, she’s already performed twice in Los Angeles in the last three months: once at FYF and again at the Hollywood Bowl (alongside Blood Orange and Kelela). Her highly-acclaimed album A Seat at the Table has also been well-received by the public, evident by the crowd’s reactions as she began her set with “Rise.”

Closing out the festival was Kid Cudi, who just last month began a new tour after releasing Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’ last year. Sunday’s attendees chose to attend the late-night set (which began at 11:15 p.m. and ended well after midnight) to experience what could be the most exciting and enthralling performance of the entire festival. Cudi began with “Baptized in Fire” to deafening screams from fans, and transitioned to other songs from previous albums like “REVOFEV” from Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager. He became emotional later in the evening as he addressed the crowd and thanked them for their support over the years.

“This sh-t has been overwhelming since I’ve stepped on this stage, [but] you’ve been there with me this whole time, and I love you for that,” Cudi said to the audience. “Thank you so much.”

As Camp Flog Gnaw continues its progressive climb on the concert radar, those who frequent the festival scene should keep an eye out for next year’s carnival.