From Nov. 10 to 11, Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Tyler, the Creator and nearly 40 other artists performed at Dodger Stadium for the seventh edition of Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival. Since its inception in 2012, the music festival has expanded to two days, enlisted more acts and, in its most recent iteration, moved to a larger venue. The carnival has sold out every year, and 2018 was no different.
Camp Flog Gnaw, however, is no ordinary music festival. The “Gnawville” thoroughfare featured carnival rides and games, extensive dining options and merchandise booths, offering patrons an opportunity to experience a music festival in a whimsical carnival setting. Unfortunately the lack of cell phone service hampered the new Postmates ordering system meant to help patrons skip the line at select food trucks.
On Saturday, indie band Slow Hollows opened the festival with additional performances from R&B artist Raphael Saadiq and Odd Future member Mike G. Later. Later in the day, Louis Vuitton menswear director Virgil Abloh performed a DJ set mixing hit songs from artists like Sheck Wes, Drake and Kanye West.
As the sun began to set, Atlanta rapper Playboi Carti delivered one of the most energetic performances of the festival, constantly commanding the crowd to open up a mosh pit. However, it was disappointing for fans to see his act cut short during “Magnolia” because of scheduling.
Rapper A$AP Rocky took the stage next, opting to stick to songs from his new album “Testing.” The rapper previewed a new song featuring Tame Impala, but poor sound quality overshadowed his performance.
After Rocky, rapper Tyler, the Creator performed a spectacular set flanked by large trees and a cabin to align with the festival’s camp theme. He also expressed his gratitude by thanking the crowd for the opportunity to organize the festival.
“I think it’s beautiful that I created something where all you weird motherfuckers can come and be safe,” Tyler told the crowd.
Rapper Pusha T finished with an electrifying performance, despite drawing controversy for displaying the words “Fuck Drake” on the screen behind him.
Despite a lack of energy from many crowds throughout the early half of day two, everything changed once hip-hop group Flatbush Zombies came out; people crammed into the railings and sang along passionately to a majority of the songs.
Eventually, rapper Jaden Smith came out performing his hit song “Icon” twice, calling Tyler, the Creator, his “fucking boyfriend,” and inviting the fire marshal threatening to shut down the event to his birthday party.
Twenty years after of the release of her transformative album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” singer Lauryn Hill arrived 20 minutes late to her set, performing a few songs like “Ex-Factor” and “Doo Wop (That Thing)” before being awkwardly cut off to keep the remainder of the festival on schedule.
Afterward, rapper Post Malone took the stage for a calm and collected performance. He ran through his wheelhouse of hit songs like “Psycho,” “White Iverson” and “Congratulations” before thanking fans for their continued support over the years.
Then came the weekend’s main attraction: Kids See Ghosts, a superduo comprising rappers Kanye West and Kid Cudi. Despite an obvious lack of preparation, the duo managed to deliver an incredible performance. West and Cudi emerged from a large, rectangular acrylic box hanging above the stage and there were no lulls in between songs over their 45 minutes on stage. The set’s tone shifted from hypnotizing to surreal through the last four songs, with West performing both “Welcome to Heartbreak” and “Paranoid,” for the first time since 2015. Kid Cudi also performed “Pursuit of Happiness” to the delight of cheering fans, before the two artists abruptly exited the stage.
Musical legends, rising stars, and current icons rounded out the festival’s large and diverse lineup spanning numerous genres, rounding off a “crazy week” — as Kanye West put it during his performance — across the United States.
The festival’s move to the grounds of Dodger Stadium also signifies its search for independence and stature within the Los Angeles festival scene, particularly with FYF Fest shutting down operation earlier this year. Poor cell service and long lines were problematic, but with more efficiency and a more diversity of performers, Camp Flog Gnaw has cemented itself as a giant of Los Angeles music festivals.