Earl Sweatshirt causes chaos in Chicago debut

    Fans began pouring into The Metro at 6 Tuesday evening, eagerly anticipating the first Chicago performance of Earl Sweatshirt, Odd Future's idiosyncratic, fast-growing star. The venue nearly full by 6:30, and the energy inside was palpable. But the die-hard fans anxiously peered for any sign of change, in frustration before at 8:15, cheers filled the air and hands flew up.

    Taco, Odd Future's resident DJ, burst onto stage. Clad in a Chicago Blackhawks jersey with his name printed on the back, the DJ immediately started blasting Kanye West's "Blood On The Leaves," playing a guaranteed crowd pleaser as if to apologize for the delay.

    Finally, by 8:30, the man the crowd came to see emerged, a sight for sore eyes to his weary fans. Flanked by OF counterpart Vince Staples, Earl launched into his opening number sending the crowd consisting mainly of high school students into mayhem.

    For the next hour, the 19-year-old had the crowd at attention. The scent of body odor mixed with marijuana smoke hung in the air, as Earl launched into tracks from his first full-length album, Doris. Tracks like "Pre" and "Burgundy" resonated forcefully in the venue, with the bass rattling through one's bones as Earl spit dense rhymes with precision.

    Eventually, it seemed as if the group wanted nothing more than to screw with the audience that had patiently awaited their arrival. When Earl encouraged fans to throw their shoes onstage, and several took him up on this offer, he did nothing but mock them, at one point describing a Merrill shoe thrown at him as "something that sounds like a small woodland creature." At other points, the group would stop performing if they were displeased with the energy level in the room, only performing again if they were pleased with the response.

    Despite the hiccups, the show still delivered on the promise of Earl's brief but thrilling discography. Dropping singles "Chum" and "Woah" back-to-back near the end of the set, Earl brought The Metro to a frenzy, leaving overzealous moshers bruised and battered in his wake.

    The set was also punctuated by the realization that Chance the Rapper, Chicago's own up-and-coming hip-hop phenom, was in attendance. At one point, Earl noticed his contemporary in the crowd, declaring, "Boy, he really does look different, doesn't he?"

    After an hour-long set, exhausted fans poured out of the venue into the confines of Wrigleyville. Frustrated by the long delay and the antagonistic attitude of the performers, fans nevertheless had a lot of satisfying moments to hold onto. With one album under his belt and countless tours ahead of him, Chicago should look forward to years of excitement from Odd Future's brightest rising star.


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