Camp Flog Gnaw: Day 1 old guy review

This is the youngest music event I have been to since I was young. I saw no one my age all day. I must be unusual, because I expected to see other parents there with teens, but I guess most people won’t pay this kind of a ticket price to take their kid to see music that is not made for our generation. In fact, the oldest guy I saw was Michael McDonald, who joined Thundercat for a few songs, including a really strong rendition of “I Keep Forgetting,” which if memory serves, came out in 1982.

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That was the only song I knew all day. There were a few Tyler songs I recognized from my son, and a Choker song that was familiar because my son plays it at open mic at Starving Artists Cafe in Fresno. Choker talked on stage about making his first album in his mom’s basement to keep his sanity when he had no job or anything going on. He talked about dreaming about performing at this festival, and being blown away that he was actually there. He told the crowd, “Whatever you want to do, you can do that shit.” I liked that message, and he gave a really charismatic performance.

I have seen a lot of live music of a wide variety. I saw Public Enemy with Anthrax back in the day. I have seen Santana, BB King, Iron Maiden, the Allman Brothers, Alice in Chains, the Meat Puppets, Against Me!, Van Halen, Simon & Garfunkel, Depeche Mode, Oingo Boingo, Cracker, Danzig, Corrosion of Conformity, and many others (just trying to give a feel for the range of what I have seen). I think I am pretty qualified to evaluate live performance. We got there at about 1 pm, and were there until after 10. We saw Choker, Thundercat, Mike G, Daniel Caesar, The Internet, and Tyler, the Creator. I enjoyed them all, and they were all pretty different. This is music that is not targeted to me at all, but I really liked it.

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I probably liked Daniel Caesar the least, because it was fairly generic pop music. Thundercat was probably closest to my own tastes (although Mike G was close), and Tyler was absolutely a next level performer. He was in total control in every moment that he was on stage, and had the crowd eating out of his hand. Fan or no, he is an artist you should definitely see live. He is an incredible talent, and a polished and skilled live performer. I am glad I saw it.

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The environment of the festival was really nice. People were very friendly, and they had it set up well. Plenty of restrooms, and I appreciated the water refill stations so I only had to buy one expensive bottle of water. They had free carnival rides, and games you could buy tickets for. We rode the ferris wheel, and the view of Los Angeles from high above Chavez Ravine was spectacular.

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There was an incredibly wide variety of food options, both stands and food trucks. I liked that they limited alcohol consumption to a cordoned-off beer garden. It was not a drunk crowd, and I saw no fights. I think quite a few people were on molly, but such folks tend to be friendly and prone to hugging strangers, which I don’t mind. There was a lot of weed in the air, which is to be expected, and again, those folks tend not to cause trouble. We sat at a picnic table for dinner by a couple that was having trouble staying awake, but that will happen, kids.

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The only negatives I have are that there was not enough seating and a lot of people were sitting on the ground in common areas of the festival. Some benches on the perimeter would have really helped, as well as some more picnic tables in the food areas. By the time it got dark, it was way too crowded for my taste, but it is a music festival so that is my problem not theirs. Toby would not have enjoyed that.

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It has been a really good experience to share with my son. With both of my boys, the teen years have been the hardest part of parenting. They warn you about infants and toddlers, but that was nothing compared to the challenge of teenagers. He wanted to leave after Tyler because he loved it so much he wanted to close the day with it. He left me and went into the crowd to get as close as he could, and he told me that he didn’t think he had ever been happier than he was during that show. He came away from it more committed than ever to his own musical dreams. That, my Oppo friends, was worth the money I spent, my aching feet and back, and a day spent as the oldest dude around. Happy kid makes a happy dad.

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He is really excited to see Earl Sweatshirt today, who is one of his favorites. I hope we go 2 for 2 on happy days for him. Spend time with your kids doing what THEY love. It is worth it.

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