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Earl Sweatshirt Plays to Sold Out Bodega

Earl Sweatshirt Plays to Sold Out Bodega

By Francis Cook

The hyped sell-out crowd had already packed themselves as close as they could get to the stage before Earl came on. The smell of weed, sweat and beer filled Bodega – more debauched sauna than bar by this point. When he arrived on stage the screaming started, which then broke into yelling as they rapped along to “Pre” with Earl.

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Earl’s live performance is representative of his music. Only 21, he seems both laid back and slightly insecure. As the gig went on, he relaxed into the show. Buoyed by the crowds’ enthusiasm, he became more expressive and loud. His loyal fans, who yelled every lyric, were as much part of the show as Earl. They provided a huge amount of energy and joy to the show which was evidently not lost on Earl.

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Earl Sweatshirt’s career trajectory has been more than unusual. His first mixtape, Earl, was met with high praise and controversy in equal measure. Lyrics about raping and murdering women (something he no longer raps about) threw Earl and Odd Future into a furious online debate.

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Worried about his behaviour, his mother sent him to boarding school in Samoa. At the time, his disappearance caused mystery, spurred on by Tyler the Creator’s constant refrain “Free Earl.”

His albums Doris (2013) and I don’t like shit, I don’t go outside (2015) have been met with universal acclaim. (I don’t like shit is on my list of best of 2015 so far) Moving away from the shock fantasy, they showed a more self-reflective, intelligent, and dark side to the rapper. His lyrics are incredibly witty and subversive, backed up by a deep voice and tight flow.

Earl doesn’t grab attention on stage. He doesn’t put on a big performance. He’s just up there being himself, and it’s great. And the crowd loves it.

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Photos from Wellington show 23/07


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