by Daniel Hill
Last night, Odd Future's premiere wordsmith Earl Sweatshirt finally made an appearance in St. Louis. The rapper came through the Pageant alongside Mac Miller, Vince Staples, Chance the Rapper and the Internet, as part of Miller's Space Migration Tour.
Early rumors swirled that Sweatshirt had cancelled this tour due to illness -- a nasty bout of pneumonia, in fact -- but those rumors proved false, caused by an error on the part of his management. St. Louis fans would be forgiven for thinking the cancellation would affect his appearance here. After all, it wouldn't be the first time.
Sweatshirt took the stage around 9:30 p.m. to the song "Kill" from 2010's Earl. Clad in a yellow T-shirt and a hoody, he seemed comfortable onstage despite his relative inexperience performing live. He explained to the capacity crowd at the Pageant that this would be his last night on the tour. (Action Bronson will be taking his place for the remainder, starting Wednesday in Denver.) In keeping, he wanted the crowd to sing along. Little clues like this helped expose a palpable sense of excitement from the young rapper -- one could easily see that he was happy to be onstage.
Earl went on to play a couple of new songs from his much-anticipated upcoming album Doris. The production on these songs was spacey and ethereal, while the lyricism was jam-packed with the wordplay we've come to expect from the young star. Seated near me, another attendee was heard to remark "Man, I wish I still smoked weed!" as these songs played on.
A few times throughout the night, Sweatshirt made reference to the heat onstage and the powerful house lights. "Hey, light guy, can we get something less oppressive up here? Something like a...like a blue. Yeah, that's good." Another remark came with a nod at St. Louis rapper Nelly: "Man, you guys just don't understand. It is just so damn hot up here. So hot..." As he was speaking, the DJ suddenly broke into the first bars of "Hot In Herre" -- the section from the 15-second to the 30-second mark -- as Mac Miller danced out onto the stage.
St. Louis being St. Louis, as soon as the "Oh!" that marks the start of the song came on, fans leaped up out of their seats and began dancing as well. Miller and Sweatshirt then launched into "Guild," also from the upcoming Doris album, on which Miller is a guest. Following the song, both rappers continued to have fun with the Nelly sample -- any reference either made about it being "hot" would be immediately followed by its easily-recognizable bars. Earl even proved himself perfectly capable of emulating the aforementioned "Oh!" after it was played several times in a row.
Continue to page two for more of our review. "Hive," from the upcoming Doris.
The song always ended before Nelly would have started the verse. Miller and Sweatshirt both seemed genuinely surprised the last time it was put it on -- all the way up to the first words -- when the crowd started reciting the verse in unison. I don't think the duo was expecting that, but they probably should have been. After all, this is Nellyville.
Miller danced back out the way he came in, hamming it up with several distracting runs back and forth from the sides of the stage. Sweatshirt returned to his set, playing fan favorites "Orange Juice," "Earl" and even "Pigions." "I never do that one," he said. "That's just because this is my last night."
"I could just go waaaay over," he continued, "Since this is the last night of tour." The fact that he was not ready to leave the stage served further to indicate just how much he was enjoying himself. This was not a road-weary seasoned veteran; it was an eager young kid excited to be doing what he loved.
Sweatshirt closed out the night with "Drop," a fan favorite from Radical, and then new single "Hive" which prominently features Vince Staples. Staples, who had been serving as hypeman for the whole set, stepped to the front at the end of the song to deliver the final sixteen bars. Earl then left the stage, to thunderous applause from the crowd. If his time hadn't been finite, we'd bet he would have lingered and excitedly performed all night long.
Continue to page three for video clips of the new Doris songs.
"Whoa" live at the Pageant
"Hive" live at the Pageant
"Molasses" live at the Pageant (Earl made everyone learn the chorus to this one before he broke into it -- "Imma fuck the freckles off your face, bitch.")