by Shelly Bell
n an early scene in the movie remake of 90s Fox TV drama 21 Jump Street, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill joke about the groups of students outside of the high school in which they are attending as undercover cops. Observing the August 4th line at Washington, DC’s U Street Music Hall for The Internet (Syd tha Kid and Matt Martians of Odd Future) I could hear them in my head saying “those are goths, those are the nerds, I don’t know what they are, what the fuck are those things, I’m so confused right now!”
“Odd Future” is the perfect name for the rising change in thought on it’s way down the music pike. The concept of uniqueness is now the driving force behind new group thought. The Internet perpetuate the notion that turning “the weird” into “the cool” somehow makes you an individual and IT WORKS! Prior to the concert I read several reviews online that painted Syd Tha Kid as a misogynistic female due to a scene in the video for The Internet’s “Cocaine” single where she throws a girl out of her truck after she passes out from sniffing cocaine. How can you be a misogynistic female? I guess this is the same as being racist against black people and being black? Not sure if this makes sense, but things don’t have to make traditional sense anymore. That’s the MO of Odd Future, adults from the age of Soul Train and tape players had better take heed.
The show opened with an artist in training Kilo Kish. The thought of Kilo Kish being developed by her also still developing friends like the Odd Future collective was instantaneously humorous. As a spoken-word poet myself, her act reeked of a teenager being at an open mic for the very first time. Foremost, she does not know how to properly use the microphone to project her voice. This may possibly be because she barely has a voice at all! She giggled and wiggled her slanky long limbs on stage like the crowd was a boy she was flirting with. For an hour I had to remind myself that I was at a concert and not at a high school talent show. The crowd found her mildly entertaining. They seemed to be responding out of loyalty rather than actually being entertained. The following point warrants being made, and is likely the centerpiece of all that is to follow. The weird are dedicated to letting other weird folks know that being weird is cool, that they are right there for you. The good news is complex.com reported that she doesn’t really consider herself a rapper. Whew! Thank God! This provides me an extra level of patience with her development, however, being developed by the underdeveloped is the blind leading the blind.
By the end of Kilo Kish’s performance I was a bit irritated by trying to force this experience into a box I had been in before. After a few deep breaths I learned to tolerate the level of perceived unprofessional actions and just become consigned to this being a weird experience. Prior to the show I had listened to The Internet’s debut album Purple Naked Ladies several times. Though many of the tracks sound alike, the mixing and mastering is haphazard and the electronic elements smack of mediocrity, I LIKED IT! There’s a special star quality in the Odd Future touring DJ and producer’s voice and presence on the album that is positively delightful and noteworthy.
I anticipated seeing Syd in person especially after Kilo Kish had been less than remarkable. As soon as the crowd got a glimpse of Syd they went crazy. It appeared that the audience had grown from between 200-250 people to a raging 350. “I love you Syd” echoed through the crowd. A huge fan/twitter follower @RaynaRobinson brought Twizzlers for Syd because they’re her favorite. They showered her with gifts of buttons, beanies, and more. She smiled, laughed, and expressed her appreciation over the mic. Their performance was more professional than I expected. In the midst of a groove that was rooted in fun they maintained performance time and kept the show moving. As they glided from song to song from their album the audience glided along with them in a cosmic, out-of-this-world soul experience. Matt Martians showed himself to be a mediocre keyboard player that considers punching a few electronic keys a creative process. However, I realize that amongst the weird you are awarded just for trying really hard. Therefore, I have to respect his level of talent as indicative of the future excellence that is soon to grace stages and mics all across the country.
Post-performance, the audience stuck around grabbing for any ounce of the Syd’s air that they could. They wanted pictures, autographs, handshakes, hugs, and any other attention they could get from her. Matt had packed up and walked off stage without anybody noticing. Syd tha Kid is indeed the star of Odd Future’s The Internet. In a super group of “the weird” I wonder how long they will be able to maintain being weird before it is affected by becoming cool. As trends in pop culture have it when something becomes cool it is subject to creating negative headstrong egos and separation. I am hoping that The Internet can show us different.